About Leah

Creating in my studio

It began during my pregnancy with my son in 2003. I read every book imaginable, joined two prenatal classes, participated in prenatal yoga classes, prepared for breastfeeding through courses and books, and found a supportive group of midwives. During my pregnancy, I came to realize how much I loved pregnancy and birthing, this transformative process that the body and spirit undergo in becoming a mother or parent. To be a part of the rite of passage for a mother or couple is an honor to witness the moment when life comes into being. To hold hands, massage backs and shoulders, wipe tears,  and listen to the rhythmic breathing that brings forth life, is indescribable.

I started supporting friends during their birth journeys, in the comfort of their homes, birth centers and hospitals in the US. Some years after moving to Sweden, I decided to expand my birth studies and took an Advanced Doula workshop with Debra Pascali-Bonaro in Göteborg 2013. From there I continued my studies and had the chance to take a DONA approved: Introduction to Childbirth for Doulas and Birth Doula workshop with Debra Pascali-Bonaro in the US in 2013. The same year I became an active member of Amningshjälpen and joined the group in Värmland. Through the nonprofit organization, Föräldrastödet i Värmland fellow doula Linda Häggkvist and I started Värmland’s first Cultural Doula (Kulturdoula) project (2014-2016) with the help of Bodil Frey, who developed the first Cultural Doula and interpreter project (Kulturdoula och tolk projekt, 2007) in Sweden. Through the project, I was able to combine my interests and educations in birth, healthcare, intercultural studies, and ethnic relations. Linda and I developed a 52-hour cultural doula education and from this, the vulva sculptures were born.

I was not satisfied with the stick figure type drawings available, depicting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Drawing from my creative talents I created vulva sculptures or should I say I baked the models, in my oven. The next course day was filled with laughter about how I was busy baking vulvas in my oven, the night before. The laughter made it easier to talk about the vulva and FGM. Many of the participants enjoyed holding the sculptures in their hands and learning about the parts of the vulva.

Over the years the vulva sculptures have developed from the advice of doctors, midwives and educators. The idea of the vulva sculptures have been born from a passion of working with women and creating space for dialogue with the intent for understanding and connection.