Who We Are
MANA Pasefika is a doula program created by and for Pacific Islanders of Melanesian, Micronesian , and Polynesian (See MAP) descent working as community birth attendants in San Francisco whose purpose is to Maintain Ancestral Knowledge and Autonomy in our communities.
To revive the safe, healthy and joyful birth culture of the Pacific Islander community in San Francisco and beyond. Our work centers around equipping our birthing families with the skills to successfully navigate the western medical system while grounding this rite of passage in the customs and sacred cultural understandings of our ancestors. Our appointments focus on birth as a family and community event so we invite participation and use this time to foster new ways of relating to and supporting one another that ensure resilience in our families and cultures.
Birth is a ceremony that maintains the VA and is an opportunity to draw on the thread of existence from our past in the form of traditional birth practices and caretaking into the present and future generations. We understand birth as a natural part of life so our support rests upon the empowerment of the birthing person within the container of our community. Reclaiming indigenous ways of seeing ourselves and our experiences is both an act of resistance and a responsibility that we carry with pride.
I understand that having a positive birth experience is crucial for parenthood that begins with joy and confidence. In supporting mothers throughout their birth journey, I encourage, empower, and educate these women to be confident in remaining in control of their bodies and the lives of their babies. As a young mother and doula, my personal and professional approach to life is dedicated to increasing family resilience and I believe it starts with a positive birth experience. I am passionate about providing non-judgemental and individualized support of family’s choices regarding birth space, intentions, and medical care. To accomplish this I keep an open mind to unique perspectives, abilities, challenges, and needs of laboring mothers and their support team. I am grateful to provide support at any birth, but I especially hold young birthing families of color close to my heart because of my experience as a young birthing mama of color. Respecting the circle of life and death, I am also trained in supporting pregnancy loss and will hold space for anyone who needs it as well.
I became a part of SisterWeb because I wanted to specifically help Black and Pacific Islander women have better birth experiences and health outcomes for themselves and their children. In a world that increasingly puts pressure on family resiliency in these communities, my role in SisterWeb is to change this status quo by providing quality birth support to these women who would otherwise not have the privilege to do so. Being a part of this forward-thinking doula network will ensure that families are prepared to build a solid foundation for their babies starting now and have a community of support to help guide them on their path. My personal hope for working with SisterWeb is to create a model of maternal care that can be adopted all over the country to change the direction we have been misled on. As a birth worker and aspiring midwife, I am proud to be a part of this sisterhood and be the action for change.
My name is Ruta Lauleva Lua’iufi Aiono. My family comes from Fasito’o-uta and Malie on my father’s side and from San Francisco, CA on my mother’s side. I grew up in Japan, Samoa, the Bay Area and Rochester, NY. I have been supporting birthing families since 2013 with the birth of my god-child and spent 3 of those years working as an apprentice midwife with Diane Gregg in Southern Arizona serving families from Sonora, Mexico. Learning under Diane I experienced what uninterrupted, unmedicated birth looks like and I bring this sense trust in the birthing body to my clients. Since returning to the Bay Area I have worked with Roots of Labor out of Oakland serving low-income and POC families and I am very excited and grateful for this opportunity to now serve my PI community. I have also been blessed to study under Mimi Kamp, an elder herbalist who held space for me to learn to be quiet and observe as the primary way to understand imbalance, and to sit with the plants as the primary way to understand their medicine. I am excited to support families in birthing with dignity and joy by equipping them with the tools and language to navigate the hospital system while grounding them in the traditions of our ancestors.
I believe that pregnancy and birth are periods of transformation that imprint the infant and can shape the pregnant person and their family for their whole lives. I also believe that Hospital Culture is its own culture, inherently based in colonization, white supremacy and capitalism and that This is why we see more negative birth outcomes for our people. My work as a birth companion centers around supporting BIPOC families to have autonomy within the medical system- the confidence to make informed decisions about their bodies and experiences, the support to impart these rites of passage with cultural values and protocol if they so desire. As a Samoan person I was raised to serve my elders and my community: ‘O le ala i le pule o le tautua’ – The path to leadership is through service. By working with SisterWeb I hope to both honor my family and uplift my culture.