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.
Before hospitals and technology became the norm, Black women relied on midwives. In traditional African culture, the midwife was the pillar of the community and keeper of sacred traditions. The International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) cites that, “Grand (Granny) midwives taught women how to be mothers and taught men how to be good husbands and father, they played a large part in shaping cultural perceptions of motherhood as well as functioning as officiate in the rite of passage of becoming a mother.”
Sharon Robinson, critic and professor of midwifery and Black health care systems, states in her 1984 study for the Journal of Nurse-Midwifery that the first Black lay midwife came to America in 1619, bringing with her knowledge of health and healing based on her African background.
Like many other of our customs and traditions, racism and patriarchal systems became barriers for Black women to continue their practice of midwifery. Today, organizations such as the ICTC, Black Women Birthing Justice and…