Reproductive Justice Retreat

22nd – 25th November 2018

Reproductive Justice Retreat

Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die within childbirth than white women. Studies talk about the need to develop and evaluate services to mitigate the risk of dying that are associated with being of black Caribbean or African ethnicity.

You are going to change that.

Join us for a weekend retreat of CPD, workshops, discussions, ceremonies & rituals as well as activism.

This retreat is for black/bme women, birth keepers, doulas, midwives, natural health advocates, yoga instructors, nutritionists and women’s wellness practitioners who know our clients deserve excellence. During this weekend you will:

– sit and learn from three amazing birthkeepers
– inform your cultural competency and work through ways to affect change through activism
– sit in circles and make connections and support networks
– walk in the countryside and let it heal you
– set the bar for your self-care
– eat good nourishing food
– have fun!

This retreat will be our inaugural retreat. A coming together of birthworkers of colour. It will be a time to share our knowledge and skills, even as we learn new ones and look towards reproductive justice. This will be a long weekend of togetherness, with three amazing facilitators: Elsie Gayle, Nicola Goodall and Mars Lord. We will be drawing on the truths that have always been within us and within our grasp. Nature and self care is how we survive.

The wonderful Gabriella Molina will be our resident chef.

We have unique stories and histories to share as we lay down our legacy for the birthworkers that come after. Limited to 40 spaces, this is not one to miss.

“Ultimately, the permanent elimination of reproductive health disparities will require a social movement, led by members of the target population, informed by the findings of evidenced-based medicine, and fuelled by a desire to raise the standard of living of the [black] community. As this occurs, all women will benefit.”

The Retreat Venue

Situated in 30 acres of glorious countryside in mid Devon, less than an hour from Exeter, is Newhouse Farm Cottages. A series of small cottages consisting of between 1-5 bedrooms where we will spend our time together. It is the perfect place to spend time with the other birthworkers to relax, to learn and to build your network of love and support.

With gorgeous grounds to walk in, plenty of space for quiet contemplation and cottages to turn to when you need time for reflection, this is a wonderful place to be still.

We will make full use of the function room, studio and the larger cottages for our workshops, for gathering and breaking bread together. The heated pool is open all year from 9am–9pm and has a changing cubicle, toilet and shower alongside the traditional sauna.

Free WiFi is available in each cottage and throughout the communal areas. There are tennis courts (but you have to bring your own equipment) for those who prefer to be more active.

Venue address: Newhouse Farm Cottages, Witheridge,
Tiverton, Devon, EX16 8QB.

Programme format

Final programme to be confirmed, but expect good food, water therapy, yoga and workshops to stir and grow your passion for reproductive justice.

Check in is 2pm Thursday 22nd with final check out at 3pm Sunday 25th.


8am – yoga (outside if the weather is good)
9am – breakfast
10.30 am – workshop
12.00- break


12.20 – 1.30pm discussion session
1.30 – 2.30 – lunch
3.00 – 4.30 activity
4.30 – 6.00 rest, journalling, using facilities
6.30-8pm – dinner

Evening event

We’ll be having a themed party on Saturday evening.

Check out the Venue

What does Reproductive Justice mean to our facilitators​


Nicola Goodall

reproductive justice means establishing a world where women are viewed as that Divine creature when they are birthing and thus treated as such. it means women are treated with love and care and empowered to choose their own healthcare providers not bullied into accepting whatever is on offer in a contradictory systemically racist and threatening world where birth is viewed as hugely dangerous but services are so over-stretched that the level of panic-related care cannot be delivered so they are left on their backs like beetles literally and metaphorically. it means women NEVER leave a birth room feeling violated or injured because of something beyond their control. it means ALL women are equally loved regardless of race, religion, class, substance use, size, accent, fashion, choices, sexuality…ANYTHING!

it also means that birthkeepers are treated the same. there is way too much bullying of women that want to support mothers in a fair way.

Elsie Gayle
It means the women whatever their creed, culture, colour have access to equitable sexual health, maternity, child and mental health services including the issues which have impact on these. e.g. housing, poverty etc. Reproductive Justice is about culturally safe services.

Mars Lord
Reproductive justice means giving women back the rights to birth their babies they way that they wish to. It means seeing the disparity in the maternal and neonatal morbidity rates drop. It means seeing black women rise as goddesses as they birth their babies. It means colouring in the landscape of birth. Seeing black birthkeepers, babies and families as normal. Not a side note about how birth was before ‘the advent of modern obstetrics’.

Facilitator’s Bios
Mars Lord

Mars Lord



Award winning doula and birth activist Mars Lord has been a birth keeper for over a decade. After attending the Paramana Doula course with Michel Odent and Lilliana Lammers, a spark was lit within her and the passion that she discovered for birth and supporting women has fired her soul ever since. She has had the privilege of working with hundreds of women, with a particular interest in multiple mums. A birth activist, with a desire to see the ‘colouring in of the landscape of birth’ and finding out the reasons for the maternal and neonatal morbidity rates amongst the BAME community, Mars created Abuela Doulas a doula preparation course primarily, but not exclusively, for women of colour. Her desire for reproductive justice led to the creation of the ‘Reproductive Justice Retreat’.

As a founding member of Birth In The City alongside Maisie Hill and Nicola Mahdiyyah Goodall, she delights in working with other doulas and sharing our collective stories and skills. 

Her work with pregnant women and their families has led her to speak at conferences and to lead workshops, namely Loving The Multiple Mamas and Cultural Competency. She has had the privilege of speaking at Mumsnet’s Bumpfest, twice, the Doula UK Conference (2016) and Feminism In London, twice. 

Elsie Gayle

Elsie Gayle



Elsie Gayle is a wife, mother, midwife and nurse.

Born in Jamaica of mixed heritage, she came to the UK to train as a nurse, eventually settling here.

Having consolidated a varied NHS career, she lived and worked away in the Caribbean and Africa before returning to the UK in 2002.

She is fluent in English and Jamaican Patois. She is open to all faiths, whilst particularly holding to the tenets of Christianity, Rastafarianism, Jamaican Ancestral spirituality, and Anthroposophy.

Researching how organisational culture impacts the profession, led her to set up ‘Midwifery Conversations’ a community of practice for midwives; to support the creation and sustenance of an empowered workforce and a safe work environment for the delivery of quality maternity care.

She is dedicated to ameliorate the historical inequalities in service provision, the root causes of obstetric violence; the poor outcomes for disadvantaged mothers and babies, and in particular those of African descent.

Along with the Mimosa Midwives Group Practice, she facilitates and manages the delivery of ‘culturally safe’ maternity care; a simple mechanism to help any woman to choose services which are safe for them to use.

In 2017 she received Honorary Fellowship of the University of Wolverhampton, in recognition of her contribution and passion and commitment towards midwifery, women’s rights in childbirth and mental health services within the BME community.

Elsie Co-Chairs the Society of African and Caribbean Midwives in the UK, and is Special Advisor on Midwifery, and Obstetrics, HealthWatch and Patient Involvement Association.

Nicola Goodall

Nicola Goodall



I am an irish heritage muslim mama raised in hip hop from south london. I am a birthkeeper. I am committed to women’s wellness in all their experiences especially birth and early days parenting.

I teach birthkeepers around the world. I support families during pregnancy, birth and postnatally as a doula. I listen to them. I occasionally advocate for them. I respect them. I let them make their own choices.  I love them.

Retreat Menus
Photos from the Retreat