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Erykah Badu To Become Midwife! Why We Need More Black Midwives & Doulas.


I was so excited to learn that Erykah Badu wants to become a midwife. I wasn't surprised though, since I've been watching her spokesperson work with the International Center for Traditional Childbearing–an amazing organization run by an equally amazing woman, Shafia Monroe. Shafia and I got to know each other through my work with the Black Maternal Health project. (Please check out the info on ICTC's upcoming Black Midwives & Healers Summit in Mississippi)

I've always been a huge supporter of midwives, particularly related to their powerful role in helping black women have full term babies, fewer C-sections and in reducing infant mortality. I know it's important work.

I remembered a post I wrote for my SisterSpace column on WomenseNews about the importance of midwifery and doulas. Here's what I said:

"Could midwives be key to helping reduce the high pre-term birth and low birth-weight baby rate that continue to plague black women of all socioeconomic levels? Could midwives help reverse the high exceptionally C-section rates among black women and reduce the shamefully rising maternal mortality rates among black women?

And birth center models like The Birth Place, http://thebirthplace.org an unique midwifery and women's health center in Winter Garden, Florida run by Jenni Joseph, show impressive results in reducing pre –term births.

But, why? The answer, as it unfolded before us, was in the education that midwives provide. Expecting moms who work with midwives are more informed about the birth process than women who work with doctors only. We all know that most doctors prefer that you know less, and trust them more, so that they can do what works best for them and not deal with any pesky little questions about your own life that you may have.

After all knowledge is power.

So when a woman who has had a midwife is told she needs to be induced. She knows she can ask why, if the baby's heart rate is fine and other measures she's been educated on are still ok.

When a woman whose water has broken is told that she must be induced, a woman with a midwife may have been taught that actually unless other indicators show otherwise a baby can be fine for up to 24 hours after the water breaks. It is Hollywood that has told us otherwise, and turned the water breaking into the mad dash to the hospital event that makes for great cinema but woefully misinformed moms to be.

And when a woman has a true (not Hollywood or doctor-friendly) understanding of how long the labor process can be, she won't stand for being told that a C section is necessary because it's been five hours and she hasn't dilated. She will also have been educated on the real signs of labor, so she won't go the hospital too soon where labor can be stunted by laying in a bed and you are more likely to be given unnecessary medical interventions.

These are key pieces to the puzzle. As we know, the answer is not in the prenatal care. Women are getting that. But that hasn't improved matters. The key is in the education–an education that often does not happen in its full measure at a traditional doctor's office. And that's what midwives can provide."

Erykah Badu has already been working as a doula, or Erykah Badoula, as her clients allegedly call her. Would you let Erykah deliver your baby??

Have you used midwives or doulas in your births? And why aren't more of us using them?

5 Responses to “Erykah Badu To Become Midwife! Why We Need More Black Midwives & Doulas.”
  1. Mecia says:

    I used a doula, a black doula (SHOUT OUT TO SHAYLA BOYD-GILL) for the birth of my second child. I had my first child unmedicated and wished to do the same with my second child. However, my doctor wanted me to have an epidural because my blood pressure went up during the my first birth. I was concerned because I knew the risks of epidurals (thanks Bradley classes), DETEST needles, and it seemed to me (from all my research watching “A Baby Story”, “Birth Day”, and “The Business of Birth”) that epidurals slowed labor which led to complications and a c-section. I feared c-sections more than anything. My doula educated me and my husband and guided us through a short, but intense labor. I was much more calm, in control, and my blood pressure remained normal. I encourage all of my friends to use a doula whether you want medicated or not. It’s like having a birth advocate, a buffer between you and the medical mumbo jumbo, and the doctor pressure.

  2. Irene says:

    I just read this article along with the article about breastfeeding. I think natural birth, investing in a midwife and breastfeeding are much easier for women who are happy about their pregnancy and perhaps have a life-partner in the picture. I think the reason why so many black women do not do the above is because many of us lack support both from family and from a partner. I am fortunate that I do not lack family support and I am happily married, but I empathize with the thousands of black women who may be giving birth to children while abused, fearful, unloved and hurt from the past. It’s hard to love and be a vessel of nurturing when you yourself have not been (and were never) nurtured. I pray that we can undo this cycle, and as a community come to understand the power of nurturing and unconditional love. It would have to start with us today, since we cannot undo the past, but we have to acknowledge our painful past in order to move forward.

  3. Carla C says:

    I love this article. I have often asked the same question myself. I am a Black Doula and I find it hard to get other black women to understand the benefits of having a doula. I think that when you say doula,, one automatically assumes that the doula will push them into having a birth w/o medication. Truth is there are doulas that will support whatever the wish is of the mother. Whether it is medicated or otherwise, the point is to educate the mother on her choices and rights. These concerns are usually discussed at the initial meeting. I love being a doula, its amazing work and the positive effect on a mother is endless. Historically we have always helped other women have their babies… in most cultures women do that and it is the most supportive and loving thing a woman can offer another woman. SUPPORT and education. Another point I think is the cost. Some women simply can’t afford a doula…or think they can’t. But the truth is, although a doula practice is self employed, some doulas work on a sliding scale or payment plan and even insurance (third party) Every woman should have a doula…I make it happen. Thank you for this article. Wish I had see it sooner. 🙂

  4. Lucy Juedes says:

    That’s great that she’ll be a midwife. And it would be great to have more women of color become Lamaze childbirth educators. You can have your own business, and you can set your own schedule as an educator, which is easier to manage than the on-call nature of doula or midwifery work. Thanks for the article.

  5. Amenyonah Bossman says:

    I totally agree that Midwives educate their Mothers’ on how to better care for themselves during pregnancy and after birth which is critical in eliminating the health issues and miseducation we typically face. Moreover, from my experience it’s the CARE & LOVE of the Midwife that essentially sustains a Mother; A family & a Community as a whole. Not only do Midwives (especially Traditional Midwives) care for us throughout our pregnancy and after, that care extends into our homes. From home visits or intimate prenatal visits they assess the state of our homes, our mental and emotional state, which is a factor in the development of our unborn baby and our postpartum healing. These healers help Mothers’ with family issues, depression, homelessness and nutrition or the lack of food within their homes. Midwives are not exclusive to expecting Mother’s, they educate Fathers, siblings and Grandparents on how to assist Mom and baby, their rights as parents and family members; Midwives are a sincere support for the success and survival of healthy families.

    In short, The Traditional Midwives are gifted with a wisdom and a Spirit that understands what it takes to help bring life into the world as well as maintain it.

    Thank you.
    I really appreciated this article.

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