Infant and Maternal Mortality in the Black Community. When Will You Care?

I found this article this on infant and maternal mortality in the Black Community. They study focused on California and New York, but the issues highlighted run deep all over this country.

I liked the article and linked to it on Facebook and Twitter. I love that instead of the same old drivel about the rate being 2-4 times higher than that of white mothers and babies, they actually discussed the why, how, and what we can do to start working on this issue.

This Facebook page picked it up and shared it. You know what happened? It sat there for 3+ hours with no comments, not one like. You could say oh, it’s just Facebook, don’t get your panties in a bunch. This is the same as walking past a pregnant or laboring woman in trouble and doing absolutely nothing!

Don’t really know why I’m so surprised. This same thing keeps happening in various ways.

Here’s an example of one.

There was the ‘Get Karen There’ to send a white woman and her staff to Haiti. They went Beyond their goal…over $1000.
There was also the ‘Atlanta Bellies Project’ They reached $30.

I’m not a Doula, student midwife, or anything close. I’m a Black mother of three Black children, two girls and one boy. I don’t have a lot of money, infact, economically speaking….I would be considered poor.

I really want to know when will you care? When it’s your friend, someone you work with? When your son ends up with your half black grandchild? When you end up pregnant with a half black child?

When will you see these posts, statistics, articles, and do something about it? How can you call yourself a birth worker, or birth activist, and sit by while innocent black babies die at an alarming rate?

When will you be able to step outside of yourself to help a community and movement you claim to care so much about? Or is it that you only care when it concerns you?
You can say it doesn’t matter because we all bleed red, but it matters a lot.
You say your all about mothers and babies, but the truth is, as long as they aren’t black mothers and babies.

Racism plays a direct role in infant and maternal health. Simply being a Black Women puts me at risk, it puts my friends and our daughters at risk.

What is it going to take? We as a Black Community are going back to taking care of our own. Unfortunately it’s worse than climbing an uphill battle.
We take a step forward and someone sits at the top trying to knock us down. It really makes me sick.

Like someone said several months ago…”when allies fail.”
Things like the entire board of Black Midwives resign when allies fail.

I wish I had the time, money, and resources so I could do more. I’m one woman, one mother, doing what I can. Instances like this make me want to throw my hands up and leave me wondering why do I even bother?

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Interview With A Postpartum Doula

I am so excited to bring you this series: Interview With A Doula and Interview with a Midwife. I would like to thank my first guest, Laila for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. My hope is that we can all learn more about what a Doula is and isn’t, the different types of Doula’s, what a Midwife is and isn’t, and the roles they play in the Black Community.

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What is the importance of a Doula in the Black Community?

Doulas can play a vital role in the Black Community because they help support the family. It’s imperative that we seek resources that are going to help nurture and support our families. I think the work of Postpartum Doulas is particularly important because we can provide resources and care for the whole family. This helps the family get adjusted to their new member and new roles.

What is the role they{doulas}play in Maternal and Infant Health?

Doulas play an important role in supporting maternal and infant health. While we can’t diagnose or treat any health issues, we can help families become aware of what is healthy and normal and what isn’t. We can help families develop an awareness of the body and how it does a pretty good job of alerting us when something isn’t right.

Tell us a little about your journey to becoming a Postpartum Doula.

My journey to becoming¬† Postpartum Doula began over a year ago after watching the film ‘The Business of Being Born’.
Watching this film opened my eyes to the history of birth in American Society and the possibilities that exist when you think of childbirth as something that is normal not a disability. After watching the film I began to reflect on my own birth and postpartum experience. I had a stressful pregnancy and wasn’t able to devote a lot of time into researching my birth options. My obstetrician, who was a Black woman, induced me and for whatever reason I felt powerless to say “no”. I am happy that I was able to have a vaginal delivery and that my son was healthy, but, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I refused to be induced. What if I had a Labor Doula to help me manage my pain and anxiety? When I brought my son home I remember being in awe and exhausted. I was almost a thousand miles away from my family and had to figure a lot of things out on my own.

Because of my own birth experience I realized it would not be a good idea for me to be a Labor Doula. I was very concerned about transference and decided to pursue Postpartum work. I began researching options for training and came across a wonderful organization that provided Labor and Postpartum Doulas and Childbirth Education for women in the Chicagoland area. I was immediately drawn to the community of women and the fact that they offer ongoing training.

What are the ages/ethnicity of most of your clients?

The majority of the families I have worked with have been White in their mid 20’s to early 40’s.

Question you get asked the most?

I find that a lot of people don’t understand how a Postpartum Doula is different from a night nurse or nanny. I always make it clear that a Doula is concerned about the well-being of the family as a unit not just the child. We want to help the family make a smooth transition for the new family member.

What is the one question you think women don’t ask enough?

I don’t think women ask “why” enough. Often times we are giving a lot of information about our bodies or are told that we have to do certain things by medical professionals and we don’t ask “why”. Asking this question is very important and will help you evaluate your options.

Does certification matter? Why or why not?

I am not certified. The organization I work with provided my training and I’ve never had a client ask me if I was certified. If I were to work on my own, I would probably pursue certification to help with marketing my business.

What is the most difficult and rewarding parts of being a Postpartum Doula?

The most difficult part of being a Doula for me has been managing my own family commitments. The most rewarding is working with new families. I also get to spend time with amazing newborns, what could be better than that!

Any tips for working with all types of care providers?

Never stop asking questions. Throughout my pregnancy, labor and delivery, I did a lot of listening and not a lot of questioning. There are no stupid questions when it comes to creating the birth experience you want.

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Laila is the mother of one and has been a Postpartum Doula to many. As a Mother and Doula she hopes to help Moms and Dads trust themselves and know their inner strengths as parents.

You can follow Laila on Twitter @BrownBellyDoula and on her blog Brown Belly Doula.