13Jun2024
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Empowering the Future: Black Student Midwives’ Collective Efforts in Maternal Health

Embarking on the journey to become Black student midwives is more than a career pursuit; it’s a movement to reclaim and reshape the narrative of maternal health. The legacy of granny midwives, who paved the way before us, serves as the bedrock upon which we stand. As we tread this path, we are not just reclaiming our heritage but also dismantling barriers for the students who will follow in our footsteps.

Changing the narrative around birth statistics in Black communities is a fundamental aspect of our mission. Negative birth outcomes have persistently afflicted our communities, inspiring us to be the agents of change. Our goal is to saturate hospitals, birth centers, and homebirth practices with more Black midwives who comprehend the unique needs and challenges faced by Black birthing individuals.

Reclaiming our legacy involves challenging systemic barriers deeply entrenched in midwifery education. As Black student midwives, we grapple with a range of challenges from restricted access to apprenticeships and birth centers to historical disparities deeply rooted in the healthcare system. We recognize and acknowledge these hurdles, knowing that they have persisted since the time our granny midwives were systematically removed from healthcare. Once highly respected Black women, these granny midwives provided comprehensive care to poor and rural women during pregnancy and labor, especially during slavery and segregation. Serving as family counselors, breastfeeding consultants, postpartum doulas, nutritionists, and advocates, they oversaw a remarkable 75% of births in the Southern United States until the 1940s when they were systematically ousted.

Statistics underscore that having more midwives from diverse backgrounds can positively impact birth outcomes. By expanding the scope of Black midwifery, we aim not only to provide culturally competent care but also to contribute to reducing the maternal mortality rate within our community. Our efforts are about creating a new narrative one where Black student midwives are integral to the enhancement of maternal health.

Navigating challenges, we find strength in our shared purpose. Each student on this path is a beacon of hope for change. Our journey is not just about personal success; it’s about creating opportunities and spaces for others to thrive. The collective empowerment of Black student midwives is not merely a dream but a necessary reality for the future.

As architects of a future where Black midwives are abundant, empowered, and transformative, we acknowledge the journey’s difficulties. With every challenge, we grow stronger. Let today’s efforts lay the foundation for a future where Black midwives proudly stand, making a significant impact on maternal health and inspiring generations to come.

“Guiding Birth, Nurturing Life”
Davon Crawford
Doula Doula
www.douladoula.org

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