Erykah Badu: Preserving The Tradition Of Black Doulas & Midwives
It’s amazing how Erykah Badu can be both an old soul and a futuristic entity light years ahead. She is singularly timeless. Just one of the many, many superpowers of this mother/singer/songwriter who has mastered the gift of channeling creation. Last week, while making her rounds in anticipation of her new mixtape, But You Cain’t Use My Phone (now available on i-Tunes), and the premiere of the 2015 Soul Train Awards which she is hosting, Badu talked with the Sway in the Morning crew about another way she channels creation into the world – as a certified doula.
The word ‘doula’, according to the website DONA International, means “a woman who serves” and a doula is a someone trained to provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth. While speaking with Sway, Badu explained, “In my definition of a doula, when the spirit comes in we don’t know where they’re coming from, we just want them to feel good. I also sit at the bedsides of hospices, where souls are going out, too. Because, I mean, we’re taught what’s gonna happen but the main thing I want is for people’s spirits to be at peace, whatever happens next.”
Among the many benefits of having a doula, studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
Since 2001, Badu has assisted in 40 births and she says she keeps in contact with all her babies, who affectionately call her their “Badoula”.
Badu, a mother of three, delivered each of her children by home birth, but it was the pregnancy of a friend that put her in alignment to pursue training as a doula. She tells Sway:
My best friends, two of them – stic.man [of Dead Prez] and his wife Afya – were in labor and I was on a flight and he called me and said that, ‘Afya told me to let you know that she’s in labor.’ And I re-routed my flight – This was in 2001 – to go to be with them here in Brooklyn. And I just stayed up with her. Her labor was natural, for fifty-two hours. Fifty-two hours. And I stayed up with her. I didn’t get sleepy or anything. I was able to just be there for her, whatever it took – singing, coaching, walking, bouncing, massaging. I had just had my son, a live, natural birth at home as well, so I had a little bit of experience. After that, I felt that well I can do this. I can be the welcoming committee for new spirits coming in. That’s when I decided to start studying for it. I became a doula about five years ago.