Today we’d like to introduce you to Darshal Smith.
Hi Darshal, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m originally from Mississippi and have lived in the DMV for 28 years. I have a beautiful, blossoming teenage daughter named Gabby, who keeps me on my toes and serves as my why! She is the true meaning of unconditional love. My journey into motherhood and the knowledge and empowerment gained through childbirth has led me to become a Doula. I am passionate about helping women achieve a positive and satisfying childbirth experience. Despite the challenge of having multiple miscarriages, my spirit remained strong. The birth of my daughter brought an incredible feeling of joy that strengthened that spirit. I often call it my spiritual awakening. I was truly blessed. My family and friends provided a great support system. I want to offer that same love and support to other women like me.
I realized the profound impact birth has on a woman’s psyche and self-esteem. I felt and still feel empowered, capable, and in control of who I am and what I can do. A positive, successful journey into motherhood has been a significant influence on this. I believe every woman, regardless of age, race, culture, or circumstance, has the right to achieve the liberating, empowering, and self-affirming experience childbirth can be. By making their birth better, the outcomes for babies are better too.
My birth work is much attributed to my Grandmother, Eunice Ann Walker Redick, a nurse for over 40 years. She would routinely take me on a tour of the nursery, pretending to have patients on the entire floor. She played a pivotal role in shaping my interest, and over the years, I found myself immersed in all things maternal and women’s wellness. My ultimate goal was to become an OB/GYN. However, life had its plans. I’m a fighter; aside from my responsibilities as Owner of Dee The Doula, I am a 2-time Breast Cancer Survivor, and I understand firsthand what it is like to live a demanding and challenging life. All my life lessons and challenges shaped me into the woman I am today – especially in the world of birth work.
Moreover, my village is made of the most unique and vital people. My mom – has an unapologetic strength that I can only one day hope to attain. One thing for certain, two things for sure: I will figure it out through her and get it done! My Grandma Shirley – this woman played a pivotal role in my spiritual growth and development. They say grandma’s prayers are why many of us are still here! I truly believe that! My sisters Shekita and Amari! Thanks for always being my best friend. My partner, Howie – Thanks for always being my cheerleader and further pushing me to go harder! Shout out to a host of aunts, friends, acquaintances, etc.; all of you are my village!
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
They say nothing worth having comes easy – this has not been a smooth road. I will say it’s been a bittersweet journey, one I would not trade for the world. To start, taking that first step in launching a business at the onset of a worldwide pandemic! If bat “crap” crazy was a person (hey girl, hey! Lol)! I always say to know me; you would know I am one to push the envelope, challenge myself, and take the risk. I had people I thought were friends calling me crazy and all the above. Managing (then) two full-time jobs while balancing family and other activities was a lot. Thankfully, my instructor/mentor, Tracie Collins™, Founder and Owner of the National Black Doulas Association®, provided the necessary skillsets and knowledge while preparing me for business and personal balance as a Doula.
The next was taking that step into the public eye and gaining the trust of families looking for doula support. Birth work is a sacred and vulnerable space, especially for African American women and women of color. We have the highest statistics in maternal mortality and morbidity. As women or whomever you self-identify, we face birth rights injustices, healthcare inequity, and the list goes on! While doulas are not bodyguards, you have to come armored with thick skin, standing firm in the beliefs of your practice while providing your clients the evidence-based information to make informed decisions surrounding their birth decisions. Another obstacle has been some of the areas and abroad hospitals and birthing centers attempting to turn me away in the effort to support my client simply because I wasn’t a member or affiliate of their “preferred doula network.” My response was – “Who are you to decide the comfort level and a sense of security of a patient who felt the need to have additional support while birthing in your facility?” As allied and healthcare providers, we are responsible for providing safe and equitable outcomes for all.
All in all – every day is a lesson learned, and I want nothing more than to forever be a student of life and experiences. I stand firm in the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly. That’s what makes you stronger!
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Dee The Doula was created with mothers’ health, well-being, and empowerment at its heart. My services and products are cultivated from a deep and passionate understanding that CHILDBIRTH MATTERS, and we all share the same goal: To provide our mothers and their babies with a quality of care and product that leaves them feeling healthy, happy, and beautifully looked after during fertility, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and even end of life. My goal as a doula is to help educate, advocate, and offer support and comfort for all birthing persons during their fertility, pregnancy, labor, and grief, ultimately leading to a positive experience. I’m most proud of being able to tap into my local community and being of service in an area I am deeply passionate about – women’s health and wellness. Having my rainbow baby, being a 2x cancer survivor, and being philanthropic as myself and Dee The Doula means the world to me. Being able to show up and say hey, I know what it’s like having multiple miscarriages, fighting for your life, struggling with fertility – I can relate. While not everyone will have their desired outcome for their birth story, having someone to lean on who’s been through hell and back could be that small piece of comfort. I’m that mother, sister, friend, cousin, and soror who wants to be there for whoever needs support, whatever it looks like for them. I’m all about good vibes, energy, and just having fun, even when it’s rough! What sets me apart from others is that I’m me – I’m all for creating safe and sacred spaces for all to have the freedom to be themselves in their unique way—creating opportunities for everyone to have a platform. There’s room for everyone, and to be honest, we need more birth workers – whether you’re an aspiring Doula, Midwife, Physician of Maternal-Fetal Health, or monitrice – we need you! We should all share the same end goal – building villages and support groups to eliminate the challenges in our reproductive and birth rights!
We offer an array of services, including:
– Birth, postpartum, and bereavement doula services
– Placenta encapsulation services
– Yoni and Holistic wellness
– Belly casting
– Bengkung Belly Binding
– Referral services and more!
How can people work with you, collaborate with you, or support you?
Our community can tap in by visiting the website at www.deethedoula.com! Let’s meet for a venti americano and do the work! I am open to speaking engagements, vendor opportunities, and more! Please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a call! My ultimate goal is to open a space for my clients to meet, have their sessions, and provide a community.
- Website: www.deethedoula.com
- Instagram: @deethedoula_
- Facebook: @DeeTheDoula1
- Twitter: @DeeTheDoula1
Featured photo: Keon Green of Keon Green Multimedia