Community, Nourishing Food, & Support For New Moms With Jacquelyn Clemmons
Get ready to be inspired as I take you on a journey through Jacquelyn Clemmons' remarkable story. With her roles as a devoted mother, compassionate postpartum doula, and tireless advocate for breastfeeding support, Jacquelyn's journey has led her to establish Okionu—a transformative birth foundation that provides indispensable aid to the BIPOC community throughout the postpartum phase. Together, let's explore the wealth of valuable insights discussed during our conversation, that will leave you feeling inspired and empowered. So, join me as we uncover the transformative wisdom shared by Jacquelyn Clemmons.
Jacquelyn's journey into birth work and becoming a doula unfolded naturally. It all began when she observed how her pregnant childhood friend was being overshadowed during her pregnancy. Determined to offer genuine support, Jacquelyn started accompanying her friend to doctor's appointments and pampering her with nail sessions. Witnessing her friend's traumatic birth experience, where breastfeeding was challenging due to medication, ignited a fire within Jacquelyn. She began attending births within her friend group, using her knowledge of aromatherapy, massage, and advocacy to empower vulnerable individuals during their birthing journeys. This defining moment sparked a lifelong dedication to advocating for birthing individuals.
During the interview, Jacquelyn and I discussed the significance of having advocates and support systems during the transformative process of becoming a mother. Without a strong support network, women can easily feel overwhelmed and voiceless within the system. Jacquelyn's own experience with postpartum depression after her second pregnancy emphasized the need for comprehensive support during this crucial phase. Despite finding solace in her creative outlets, such as art and music, she recognized the profound impact that community, nutritious food, and compassionate companionship can have on the healing process. Acknowledging the power of these elements, she became passionate about educating others on their significance during the postpartum period.
As an artist, Jacquelyn found solace in songwriting and performance during her battle with postpartum depression. Through introspection, an elimination diet, and studying neuroscience, she rediscovered the importance of community, nutrition, and self-advocacy in the healing journey. Her powerful song, "Glass Ceilings," emerged from this period, reflecting the haunting and raw emotions she experienced. Today, she continues to cherish the art she created during that time and plans to share more of her work with the world.
Jacquelyn is a birth and traditional postpartum doula and the founder of the Okionu Birth Foundation.
This non-profit organization provides support to BIPOC families up to one year postpartum through meal support and group therapy. They offer nourishing food, a community of support, and a curated curriculum to help moms debrief their birth experiences. To cater to those with more severe symptoms or deeper needs, they have partnered with local therapists in Colorado, Maryland, and Texas to ensure access to professional therapy. Jacquelyn is also an author and has written about topics such as epigenetics, childbirth, and the importance of doulas. She has an upcoming book with Jessica Kingsley publishers that focuses on supporting all women as doulas.
Emphasizing the importance of food during the postpartum period, particularly from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, Jacquelyn highlights the need for warm and hot foods to restore balance and homeostasis after childbirth. Her recommendations include hot teas, bone broth, soups, stews, root vegetables, and warming herbs and spices like ginger, black pepper, cayenne, garlic, and onion. By nourishing the body's cells and facilitating healing through warm foods, she advocates against consuming cold foods like smoothies and salads immediately postpartum, as they can shock the body and hinder healing.
In our conversation, I expressed my appreciation for Jacquelyn's work and the support she provides to mothers. We discussed the importance of comfort foods and feeling cozy and nourished during the healing process. Jacquelyn shared a simple and cost-effective recipe for a coconut curry soup using chickpeas as a base, which she described as soothing and comforting to the postpartum body.
The conversation then shifted to herbs, with Jacquelyn mentioning red raspberry leaf as her favorite nutritive herb for the postpartum phase.
She emphasized its tonifying and healthy benefits for the uterus and its usefulness throughout the fertility cycle. Additionally, she suggested herbs like rose, chamomile, and lavender for calming anxiety. While cautioning against herbs that may have specific effects or allergies, such as mint reducing lactation in some women, she emphasized that red raspberry leaf remains her top choice for its taste and medicinal properties. Jacquelyn also shared a story about her daughter sharing red raspberry leaves with her college friends to help with their menstrual cycles.
We briefly discussed Jacquelyn's lineage and her grandmother's influence in introducing her to the world of herbal medicine. We touched on the importance of passing down wisdom and knowledge from generation to generation.
Jacquelyn shared her personal experience with her mother, who is a physician, and how they initially had different views on natural healing. However, her mother's discovery of a prescribed medication's contraindications during Jacquelyn's pregnancy led her to encourage natural remedies. Over time, her mother transitioned to incorporating nutrition, supplements, and herbs into her medical practice. Jacquelyn also mentioned her grandmother's knowledge of herbs, passed down through generations of midwifery and women's healing.
We discussed the integration of Western medicine with diet, herbs, and lifestyle approaches.
I emphasized the importance of addressing multiple aspects of health, such as diet and stress levels, rather than relying solely on herbs or instant fixes. We highlighted the need for personal commitment and internal shifts to achieve better health outcomes.
Jacquelyn reflected on her mother's journey and how witnessing consistent positive results convinced her to embrace natural remedies. She shared examples of how her family now incorporates herbs and natural solutions into their lives, such as using local honey for allergies. Jacquelyn believes that anyone can discover and learn to heal their bodies through a commitment to a certain path and belief.
We discussed the challenge of persuading others to adopt holistic healthcare practices and agreed that forcing someone to change is not effective. Instead, we promote embodying the principles of holistic health and offering support to those who are open to it. I shared my personal experience of offering support to my family without imposing my beliefs on them.
I greatly admire the work Jacquelyn is doing and the integration of mind, body, and spirit in her approach.
We delved into the concept of True Wisdom Circles, which focus on community support and nourishment for postpartum families. These circles involve therapeutic guidance, addressing physical healing like diastasis recti, and providing nourishing meals. The aim is to create a space where individuals feel seen, heard, and supported in their postpartum journey.
Jacquelyn mentioned that True Wisdom Circles are currently being offered virtually, with plans to expand nationally. They are seeking partnerships with therapists and food providers to enhance their services and support. The Okionu Birth Foundation website serves as a platform for communication, donations, and potential collaborations. We also emphasized the importance of spreading the word and donating to support the foundation's mission.
I'm absolutely thrilled about the expansion of this virtual platform and the opportunity it brings to connect with True Wisdom Circles. As someone who understands the challenges of being postpartum, I truly appreciate the convenience of an online space that allows families to participate without the extra logistical hurdles. Jacquelyn's mission and the work she does are truly inspiring, and I couldn't be happier to support her. It was a pleasure to have Jacquelyn on the show, and I encourage everyone to check out her IG: @iamjacquelynclemmons and IG: @okionubirthfoundation for even more valuable insights.
Let's work together to spread the word about Jacquelyn's journey and The Okionu Birth Foundation. By sharing this episode, we can help build strong and supportive communities for mothers. Join us in making a difference!