The Legacy of Black Midwives

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Stumbled across this little bit, and found myself reflecting on my own birth experience. While I didn’t have the wholesome water birth I had wanted, I was attended by midwives, and had a doula with me, and from beginning to end it was a gentle experience.

The midwives at QEH know their stuff. They’re efficient and they KNOW what the hell they’re doing. You here stories from other women who say that their experience was so awful at the hospital, but mine wasn’t like that.

I went into my childbirth experience with a mindset, and just allowed my body, and Dayo’s to work it out.

This story moved me, because I think it was important that women tend their own and stop relying on a Eurocentric male-perspective on childbirth to define their experiences. Hospitals need to become more Mama-friendly.

Even QEH. Because while my care was great, the hospital itself is depressing as fuck. The interior, the conditions, the aged, beaten quality of everything and the tired nurses and the narrow uncomfortable beds, overcrowded wards.

I had had another choice I would have taken it, but I am not sorry. I had a birth surrounded by women and laughter. I was supported through my experience both by Naimah, the doula who was with me, and the midwives who actually delivered Dayo.

Hear what though, I had to sneak the doula in. They didn’t know that she was a trained doula. I had to INSIST and be intractable about her remaining with me. They also sent her from the room for hours when the shift turned, and that was when I began to need her the most. It took hours, because the ward shift involves endless manual paperwork.

I think the way the hospital in Barbados is run is backward as fuck. I can say that cause I lived through it.

Read this article though. I was struck, because my mother was born at home. All of my grandmother’s children were born at home in Woodbrook, Trinidad. That’s not so long ago. She was attended by her mother and aunt, and a midwife as well.

I’m glad I can report on my childbirth experience in both a positive light, that I had as female-centric an experience as I could have had.

The article illustrates about the way black midwives and doulas are continuing guide mothers and babies through the miracle of birth, and how they do it in even the most abject or affluent of circumstances. It reminds me how black midwives are carrying on the FIRST tradition. Something so ancient and mysterious, it fades into antiquity and resides in genetic memory.

Makes me think of the Iyamis and primordial magic…

Check it out:

The Legacy of Black Midwives

By Zelie Pollon

Issue 144 – September/October 2007

Shafia Monroe was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, and as a teenager she wanted to be a veterinarian. Then, when she was 15, her mother died, and Monroe was sent to live with a Muslim woman who happened to be pregnant. Monroe became fascinated with the woman’s process, and human health and birth soon began to override her interest in animal care. She wanted to know everything about birth, and so was given the book Williams Obstetrics, and told to study it in case the expectant mother couldn’t get to the hospital in time for her delivery.1 That year, Monroe dropped out of high school to continue to learn about birth while living with her Muslim friend. At 17, she told her father that she wanted to go to Africa to learn to be an obstetrician. Instead, he convinced her to go back to school and look into midwifery. Suddenly, Monroe’s path began to be revealed to her.

‘I didn’t know it, but my grandmother’s mother was a midwife, and my dad was born at home. He had never said anything! Back then, it was shameful to be born at home, because the reality was that you couldn’t go to a hospital because of race or class.’ This shame became something Monroe wanted to change.

Later, when Monroe was a student at the University of Massachusetts, she’d stop black women on campus to ask if they were from Africa, and if so, if they were midwives. She was on a mission: to connect with the African midwifery tradition, and to imbue her own midwifery journey with its wisdom.”

(Read the whole article at: Mothering.com.)

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sungoddess

mermaid, dayo's mama, water priestess, writer, web developer, omo yemoja, dos aguas, obsessive reader, sci-fi fan, trini-bajan, combermerian, second life, music, music, music!