Lately, I've had the opportunity to share my journey into my work through The Cannabis Doula across various platforms and podcasts. It has been such an honor and privilege sharing my story. I started consuming cannabis as an undergrad in college, ten years ago! When I first found out the true medicinal benefits of cannabis, I began using cannabis more intentionally despite the negative reactions and opinions of some associates and family. Growing up in Chicago, I experienced a lot of violence, despair, and lost too many friends due to various injustices that affect the lives of Black people, many of these can be treated with cannabis. I found smoking cannabis as an effective and natural way to alleviate many of the symptoms I experienced related to anxiety, depression, and PTSD, while at the same time allowing me to build stronger relationships with others who also used cannabis regularly and with intent. Not only that, it helped me to focus and excel in academics and as a leader on campus and in my community. I also found that many of the families that I was supported, whether it was teens I encountered or their parents---we were all discretely consuming cannabis. Cannabis is often a closeted-culture for most people, especially women in communities that have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs and cannabis prohibition.
Families who have traditionally used cannabis do not have access to quality cannabis, nor do they have access to the education, support, and care that they deserve in order to safely consume cannabis as medicine. This must change in order for justice and equity in the cannabis industry to actually exist. Black families are still being criminalized and stigmatized for their marijuana consumption, many people with petty drug charges are still in jail and or labeled as felons, while people in affluent communities are cashing in on the CBD trend. I see this disparity especially in reference to birthing families, whereas some families are receiving support, safe access, and education on cannabis, others are being shamed and given fear-based speeches on illicit drug use, and having their children taken away.
Women are so often shamed for our cannabis consumption that we are forced to consume in secret, or at the expense and distribution of men. Educating women on safe cannabis use is important, not only because childbearing women influence the majority of health-care decisions for their entire family, but because cannabis is so often used for recreational purposes, it is increasingly necessary for women to know how and when to safely consume and choose quality cannabis. I may not be the only one who has heard stories of women, or have experienced first-hand, becoming too intoxicated after smoking cannabis or consuming an edible at a party, and not recalling being raped or pressured or led into a dangerous situation. For these reasons alone, culturally-competent cannabis education especially centering women and families is crucial, and it's our mission.
I was called to doula work after becoming pregnant while working at a licensed medical cannabis cultivation center in 2015. Facing stigma and discrimination, I began empowering and educating women and families who consume cannabis, especially during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. In 2016, I started my journey as an independent birth doula and childbirth educator, training with DONA and Lamaze International, and certifying as a Hypnobabies® Hypno-Doula, a comprehensive childbirth education and medical-grade hypnosis program that supports families in having a pain-less, joyful birthing experience. As a doula, I've studied traditional and holistic birth practices, certifying in Natural Holistic Remedies and Herbs and Nutrition in the Southern Tradition for Pregnancy and Postpartum.
With a Bachelor of Science in Family and Child Studies and an emphasis in Family Social Services from Northern Illinois University, I've had the pleasure of serving and educating families in a variety of capacities over the years, culminating into me starting my own business Happy Brown Baby LLC, where I offer family support services, doula services, and a variety of family-centered educational support, centering Black women and families.
I am committed to learning and educating our communities about holistic cannabis consumption and reclaiming traditional birth practices (that can safely include cannabis) through The Cannabis Doula courses, workshops, and events. I am a Certified Professional Interpener, studying the art and science of cannabis, a certified cannabis consultant and educator, with several certifications from leading cannabis education platforms such as Green Flower, Cannabis Training University, and Trichome Institute.
I'm a full-time mama of two happy, healthy toddlers and a registered medical cannabis patient in Maryland, combining my love and knowledge of cannabis with my drive to support and advocate for the health and wellness of women and families! When I'm not studying birth, or cannabis, you'll probably find me at the library with the boys or scavenging for books at a bookstore. I love books, birth, babies and cannabis! I'm currently quarantined with some of the most amazing library books...so much to read and all the time in the world. I hope you and your family are doing just as well!
Join me in reclaiming cannabis and Shatter the Stigma associated with your cannabis use. Schedule a consultation now to begin using cannabis holistically. Learn more about harm reduction and managing risks associated with your individual use, plus tips for talking to your doctors about cannabis. www.thecannabisdoula.org
Melanie Julion, HCHD
Choosing Cannabis is a Health-Care Decision and a birth choice. Holistic support for women, birthing people, and families who choose cannabis | @TheCannabisDoula
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We are wrapping up week 4 of the Holistic Cannabis Consumption: Pregnancy, Childbirth, & Postpartum Online course. This has been my favorite week so far, like the icing on the cake for a holistic, painless, blissful birth. There are many methods and frameworks for childbirth education, and beliefs on pregnancy vary based on the culture, society, and even families we are born into. Our childbirth education courses are holistic, meaning they center the mind-body-spirit of the birthing person, as well as taking into account other bioecological systems and how they impact cannabis choosing parents, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx parents, LGBTQ parents, teen parents, millennial parents and their babies.
In weeks 3 and 4, we talked about cannabis in supporting the mind-body-spirit during pregnancy and childbirth, but we also focused on incorporating methods of harm reduction and other traditional and ancient methods of supporting pregnancy and childbirth and minimizing risks. Many of these practices can be incorporated throughout pregnancy to prepare for a natural childbirth, with/without the aid of cannabis. These practices also boost our body's natural hormones and neurotransmitters that naturally support the stages and phases of childbirth. A healthy flow of these chemicals are vital to having a painless, blissful birth, providing harmony to the birthing person and homeostasis to both mom and baby. These natural pain relieving, and bliss properties are what we call The Big Three of Holistic Birthing.
Learn specific ways to increase the natural production of these chemicals throughout the stages and phases of birth, as well as other holistic, and traditional approaches to preparing for childbirth in the Holistic Cannabis Consumption: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Postpartum online course.
Next month, we are introducing a new course focused on holistic and traditional comfort measures for natural birthing, emphasizing The Big Three of Holistic Birthing.
Comfort Measures for Holistic Birthing
Learn more at www.thecannabisdoula.org.
Harm reduction, as defined by the Harm Reduction Coalition, is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use, or specific activity. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use alternative substances.
The Cannabis Doula uses harm reduction to incorporate a spectrum of strategies, from our S.A.F.E. strategies for cannabis consumption and tracking and managing use, to examining cannabis quality and cessation to meet cannabis moms, or cannabis choosing families where they are, addressing the conditions of and for their cannabis use along with the cannabis itself.
The Cannabis Doula considers the following Principles of Harm Reduction central in supporting women and families who choose cannabis:
• The Cannabis Doula accepts that licit and illicit cannabis consumption is part of our world, our society, and our culture and therefore chooses to work to minimize any potential harmful effects or misinformation rather than ignore or condemn it’s use.
• The Cannabis Doula understands that cannabis is a complex and multi-faceted plant and it’s use encompasses a continuum of behaviors from abuse or misuse to total abstinence, and acknowledges that some methods of consuming cannabis may be safer than others.
• The Cannabis Doula establishes that the well-being and quality of the individual, family, and community life is the criteria for successful interventions and policies, not necessarily cessation of cannabis use.
• The Cannabis Doula calls for the non-judgmental, non-coercive provision of birth and family support services and resources to families of color who use cannabis and the communities in which they live in order to assist them inbecoming informed cannabis consumers.
• The Cannabis Doula urges communities to work together to Shatter The Stigma associated with cannabis use during pregnancy and any policies that may have resulted from the stigma and led to discriminatory practices such as nonconsensual drug testing of women and babies at childbirth.
• The Cannabis Doula moves to ensures that women and birthing families who use cannabis, and have traditionally and historically consumed cannabis, routinely have a real voice in the creation of programs and policies designed to serve them.
• The Cannabis Doula affirms that birthing people themselves are the primary agents in reducing the harms of their cannabis consumption, and seeks to empower women to share information and support each other in strategies which meet the conditions of their cannabis use.
• The Cannabis Doula recognizes that the realities of racism, class, poverty, social stigma and isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination and other social inequalities—including the War on Drugs, cannabis propaganda and misinformation-- affect both people’s vulnerability to and capacity for effectively seeking cannabis education and care to reduce harm.
• The Cannabis Doula does not attempt to minimize or ignore the real and tragic harm and danger caused by the War on Drugs and cannabis prohibition to Black and Latino women, men, children, and families.
The Cannabis Doula believes that women who use cannabis during pregnancy deserve evidence based information, support, and care in their consumption and all women should have the option of choosing medical cannabis to support them during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
We work from a psychoeducational intervention model and harm reduction framework to assist families in making informed decisions on cannabis.
To book a workshop at your birth center, hospital, or dispensary contact Melanie firstname.lastname@example.org.