Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in the birth business?
I’ve been involved in birth work since the age of 17. I’m telling my age but that was nearly 18 years ago! My first experience was at the birth of my godson. After that, I kind of fell head first into it. I began studying midwifery on my own and became certified as a Doula, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, infant massage specialist and nutritional consultant. I worked as a labor and delivery, newborn nursery, pediatric and school nurse for years before embarking on this journey with Mother Nature’s Belly.
How did you come up with the idea for your non-profit – Mother Natures Belly?
I founded Mother Nature’s Belly in 2006 as a for profit business shortly after I miscarried for the second time. I had two older children through adoption however I was truly feeling a loss for “birthing” my own child. Mother Nature’s Belly started as a home based postpartum Doula support company. I really felt a need to provide holistic support for new mother’s as a part of my healing process. Caring for the mother’s allowed me to heal. The business really snowballed into what it is today. Mothers continued to seek more services from me which led to additional certifications, tons of training and finally restructuring the business as a not for profit in 2011 enabling women who are often overlooked due to their socio-economic status, access to our services, most at no or low-cost. Many of these women are women of color. 98% of the women I serve at Mother Nature’s Belly are not of European decent.
What is the infant mortality rate like in Georgia?
Infant mortality is defined by the death of an infant between birth and their 1st birthday. For decades, the infant mortality rate in Georgia has ranked among the highest in the nation. Each year, thousands of babies are born prematurely or at a very low birth weight. Many of them will die. The two main causes of infant mortality are that babies are born prematurely or they don’t weigh enough. Often, it’s both. Birth defects, injuries, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome are also leading causes. Babies born at a low birth weight – that is, five and half pounds or less – account for more than two-thirds of the state’s infant deaths. And the percentage of babies born with low birth weight in Georgia has not decreased at all since 1990. On top of that, a disturbing racial disparity persists. African-American babies are twice as likely as white babies to be born at a low weight, and thus to die.
For those who don’t know, what is a Doula, and what does she do?
Doulas provide continuous physical, emotional, and informational support before and during labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum period. The intent of a Doula is to help the woman have a safe and satisfying experience, as the woman defines it.
Can you explain how more Doulas help lower the infant mortality rate. Also, how your fundraiser Bellies, Birth & Babies fills the need for free Doula training.
Here’s an example of how Doulas effectively lower the infant mortality rate, particularly among African-American women. This study was conducted in Hillsborough County Florida between 2005-2008…
“Young women participating in the Doula Program experience decreased need of intensive medical interventions, such as C-sections or epidurals, and they breastfeed for an extended duration, providing an estimated cost savings of $1.5 million annually for the WIC agency (data based on a report from the United States Breastfeeding Committee on the Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding).
Additionally, in comparison to the Hillsborough County average of 12.4 black infant deaths per 1,000 births from 2005-2007, black participants in the Doula Program experienced a lower infant mortality rate (1 per 1,000 black infant deaths reported). These data were calculated based on the total number of Doula assisted, live births over the last three-year period; 2005-2008.”
The Bellies, Birth & Babies Fundraiser will train 20 Doulas who will serve women in the greater Atlanta area and beyond! Free Doula training is as much a necessity for the health and well-being of expectant mothers and their babies as is comprehensive prenatal care. If each Doula trained attended a minimum of one birth per month, 240 women would be impacted on a yearly basis! That’s huge! In these tough economic times, free training of any kind is ALWAYS needed, especially when it will provide job opportunities and contribute to community sustainability.
Asiyah is the founder and owner of Mother Nature’s Belly. You can follow her on Twitter @MNaturesBelly and Like her Facebook Page.
We have 60 days to help Asiyah reach her goal of $5,500 to train 20 Doulas through the Bellies, Birth & Babies Fundraiser.
You can’t help but want to help a minimum of 240 Mama’s and Babies. Can you help by donating five dollars? What about one dollar? We understand that times are tough financially for many people, and if you can’t donate, could you please share this post with other birth workers, family and friends?
A one time donation for a lifetime of helping women and babies.