Broadway and Pregnant

A friend of mine reached out a few weeks after the birth of her second baby girl and said, “I need to tell you my birth story.”

“Absolutely,” I said, “What do you want to talk about?”

“How I changed my birth plan and care providers for my second pregnancy—I was much more intentional about who I wanted around me, and the people I wanted to be in the room.”

Today we get to hear Tanya-Birl Torres share her two birth stories on our show, and the marked difference between her first birth and her second birth, and why she decided to create such an intentional environment for her second pregnancy.

Tanya is an actress, dancer, and choreographer who spent a decade in a career on Broadway, performing in shows like The Lion King, On The Town, West Side Story, and many more. With her first baby, she was on Broadway throughout her pregnancy and back in the show not long after giving birth.

Today she has a creative practice as a yoga and meditation teacher (which is how I met her), works as a director, and is the founder of So Humanity, an organization dedicated to embodying, facilitating, and bringing out change in across individuals and organizations.

In this interview, which we recorded with her 7-week old at home, she shares her background as a performer and a dancer, and what it was like to get started as a dancer and then, after performing for a while, to get pregnant and have a baby while working on Broadway. Today, six years later, she gave birth to another child and reached out so we could talk about what it’s like to advocate for yourself and what you need through the process. Every hospital, midwifery practice, and doula practice is different, and these institutions around us affect us. She shares how to listen in to what you need and why it’s important to find the right people to help support you in your birth, business, or life. She is a phenomenal storyteller. You’ll love this episode.

The Startup Pregnant Podcast Episode #137

  • I spent a decade on Broadway. I was pregnant on stage my entire pregnancy in a play on Broadway, then had her. Five weeks later I was back on stage. It was ridiculous. I was just so incredibly ambitious and it served me so much up into a point, up until motherhood basically. Then I crashed and burnt out.
  • Parenting really tore my identity of who I thought I was and how I thought I had things together. It unraveled me in that way.
  • I thought, “Well, if I could do that, then I can do this. I can have a kid. I can still do – I can do it.” Well, I loved being pregnant, but having a baby, it literally knocked me on my ass. It was so hard for me, and I had to learn a lesson on slowing down, on balance, on burnout, on all of those things that I thought I could just master and keep going and keep doing.
  • I think that’s what we have the ability to do, to heal through the future. That’s what we’ve got to do.
  • We all are bamboozled in this whole system.
  • It’s so easy to second-guess yourself, especially in the context of the medical field, to be like, “Well, they went to school for years and years—they know.” Instead of, “I’ve lived in this body all these years. I know my own body.” But it shouldn’t be about I know versus you know.  How can we be working together on this?
  • I realized how white-centered my care and my experience was with my first pregnancy, and I needed to change it up. I needed to hear other stories or other perspectives from other people. For my second pregnancy, I intentionally decided to surround myself with caretakers who were women of color—from my doula to midwife to my therapist. The infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rates are way higher among women of color. I wanted my money to go to them, and I wanted to be taken care of by them.
  •  I was really passionate about women feeling like they were in control or in charge of their bodies during this experience.


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