Nyumbani kwa Mama – Mother’s Home
5th November 2017
I have had a busy summer working with clients, supporting mentees and creating an eCourse, ‘Is Doulaing Your Bag?’ which is an introduction to doulaing. During this time I’ve also been talking to different women about their birth stories and how their experiences differed. I’ve spent time listening to black women talking about their experiences of racism in the birthing room. I’ve had calls from black and asian women, asking for doulas that look like them and know their culture. I’ve had women call and ask if they can train with Abuela Doulas because the ethos calls to them. As I’m a woman who loves talking and loves conversation, it’s been a joy to take these calls and shows me that my instinct to craft and create something for women, that colours in the landscape of birth, is the right one.
Studies keep resurfacing on Facebook about the high maternal and neonatal morbidity rates amongst black women and across The Pond, we are seeing the recruitment of doulas to help decrease this phenomena I do not think that this is something that we can discount on this side of The Pond either. Different London boroughs have made use of doulas and peer support to help the BAME communities for the same reasons.
It is important that the BAME community see doulas and birthworkers that look like themselves. It is easier to talk about the way you have been treated as a woman of colour with other women of colour. There is no shutting down of the conversation, no ‘that’s not just you, that’s all women’ – a common refrain. Listening to a woman talk to me about the way both her and her husband would dress in business suits in order to be spoken to as intelligent beings during their antenatal appointments is sad, but not unexpected. Hearing her pain as she recounts the part race played in her birth as the midwives changed, pierced my heart. Instead of looking back on her birth story with joy, she remembers the way both she and her husband were made to feel.
“Be not discouraged black women of the world, but push forward, regardless of the lack of appreciation shown you.”
– Amy Jacques-Garvey
I cannot describe the joy I feel when the birthworkers of colour talk about the positivity of talking freely to one another, being booked by clients that share their culture and the confidence when they talk about themselves and their services. As their voices rise, we will see a change in the birthworld. It will become more inclusive and more reflective of the world. We will see women who are unafraid to stand as birthworkers, women who will lose the ‘but do people book black doulas?’ question as they walk forward in their journeys and take up the privilege of supporting other women through this incredible time.
Nyumbani kwa Mama means Mother’s Home. And that’s what Birthworkers of Colour is all about. Being home. Reaching back to the wisdom and warmth of mother’s home, surrounded by family.