Tag Archives: midwifery

If you want to go far go TOGETHER…

The Grass is Greener

In this world of Birth Work… particularly as a black birth worker… you can feel really ALONE sometimes.  We often feel like we are speaking to ourselves, our partners, or the choir.

Fortunately… things are slowly changing.  I truly believe social media has had an impact on what women know, share and believe re: childbirth.  I could be wrong but I believe when a picture of a beautiful couple and their newborn, immediately following a water birth, is shared over 200 times… somebody outside the choir has seen it.  After water birth

Clearly this does not come anywhere close to the almost two BILLION hits on “Gangnam Style”… but it does IMHO mean there are folks OUTSIDE  the choir seeing these positive images.

UN-fortunately, there are not enough images or opportunities to reach beyond the choir.  That’s why I am excited about an online event that I am a part of. Its called The Grass is Greener Virtual Health and Wellness Expo and I am one of the many vendors/healing practitioners participating in this event that will provide information, special offers, give-aways, and more.  We will be providing opportunities for you to learn about many healing practices and practitioners. While participating in this event will cost you NOTHING it will provide you with a wealth of information.

I’m excited because I know it will help me get beyond my choir. I’m also excited because it underscores the reality that a collective agenda will take us further than a personal agenda.  In this world of birth work, we are NOT alone and if we take advantage of opportunities outside our immediate circles, if we take a chance, if we move beyond our comfort zones, we can touch many more lives. We have to get creative. We have to embrace others  and we have to remember the Afrakan Proverb that tells us… if you want to go far… go TOGETHER.

I hope that you will consider joining us. Its going to be a GREAT ride.  This event will be held on-line and run February 11th – February 21st.  

Learn more and Sign Up to get reminders about the event so you  can take advantage of the give-aways. I will be doin some special give-aways myself! I am sure between all of the vendors you will definitely find something to help you #BirthSomethingBeautiful

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Wordless Wednesday: Roots and Bush ~ Learn With Me

Root and Bush

Monday Musing: The Spirits That Protect the Youth

The time has come once again, as it does every year, for parents, teachers, and students to do the mad dash to finish the all important “back to school shopping.”  This is not really an issue for me… I don’t have any children and I’m not in that mad rush.  Even so, I have always said… “When I have children… Imma home school”  I didn’t really know what that meant, and had never really thought out exactly how that would work but I DEFINITELY knew homeschooling…  with all of the rights and wrongs, challenges and success, would be a part of my future.  Today there are more and more families choosing to home school. The idea of homeschooling isn’t as far-fetched as it usta seem.  And I still have plans to home school when my time comes.  Why home school?? Because I believe the school/FOOL system is NOT doin right by my community.   Every year, when “back to school shopping ensues” I am reminded that the children in my community are moving forward excitedly to walk into a building/a system that unfortunately does not respect or understand what makes them tick.  They are walking into a danger zone.  One that leaves them without a knowledge or a love of self. One that leaves them lost and confused. One that leaves them continually searching for their purpose, their story, their opportunity.  QUESTION:  What is the solution and who is protecting the spirit of our children?

ANSWER:  A few months ago my brother Samori published a kindle book.  Education for Liberation: The Top 20 Questions and Answers for Black Homeschoolers. 

Dr. Samori Camara

Now, Samori is NOT my biological brother.  He’s a brother from another mother but he truly is like the little brother I never had.   Whenever I see him, which is fairly often, he ALWAYS has something smart to say, always debating, sometimes getting on my nerves… AND makes me VERY proud.  The more I see him, watch him, hear him and learn of the things he is doing I am proud. When his book was first published I promised him a shout out on my blog. I bought the book, read the first 20 pages and well…. Yall know the rest of that story *looks away in shame*

Last week, I was on facebook and saw a post from his facebook page:  Kamali Academy an Afrikan Centered Home School.  “To start Black August, we have put our online classes up for preorders with a discount. The price will go back to the regular price in two weeks. Spots are limited! Classes start Sept. 2nd.  www.KamaliAcademy.com/online-classes” 

WAIT!! WHAT!?! This brother is doin it again!!  I say again cause he is always doing something new and great and quite honestly I can’t keep up.  I woke this morning and realized it’s a beautiful day to #BirthSomethingBeautiful, as it always is, :-) and today I decided I was gonna birth a blog post to shout out Baba Dr. Brother. Samori Camara (A.K.A. – Brother Afrika) As a side note… that A.K.A. means Affectionately Known As and as I finished this blog post and allowed him to read it… Said brother told me I needed to add all that. I agreed because I started the Brother Afrika thing anyway and so well…. I did as he asked… but I digress.

I initially met Samori while hanging out and about in the city of New Orleans. We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance.  I looked at this young man before me with these pretty locks wearing a dashiki and learned he was finishing up his Doctorate before the age of 30.  Always impressed by THAT, we continued to talk and I learned he was opening his first Afrikan Centered school for children in New Orleans. I thought… “Here is a young man who sees it, knows it and DOES it.” Ya gotta love it.

That was a few years ago and since that time I have come to know him more.  He has proven to be a leader, a progressive thinker, and a real champion of Afrikan people.  He loves Afrikan children and he is all about WORKING to build their minds and their spirits.  Today he is the director of Kamali Academy and not only is he helping to change the lives of the children he works with here in NOLA he is working with Afrikan families nationwide (likely worldwide) through his online education curriculums…  Available up to and including an 8th grade curriculum *in my fast infomercial voice*

I asked Samori recently… Why Kamali Academy? He first let me know that Kamali (which come from the South African Language Shona) means “The spirit that protects the youth” I loved that immediately. Kinda like a midwife ya know?   We are in many ways spirits that protect the entry way for the youth.   It’s also a great name for Samori’s Academy as he too is that spirit.  He tells me “the public fool system is dealing death and we want to save our children from that.”

No matter where your children are being educated, whether at home, in a private school or in the “public fool system” if you are a parent of Afrikan children you really should get to know the works of Samori and Kamali Academy.  “The Kamali Academy uses an Afrikan-centered, project-based curriculum, which places the development of an Afrikan consciousness at its center. This curriculum has been developed to maximize the effectiveness of the transgenerational transmission of our ancestral traditions, morals, and worldview in a family environment. Kamali not only inspires and trains its students to solve specific issues that plague our community, it also develops leaders who can adapt to whatever problem might be thrust upon our Afrikan nation—no matter what continent, no matter what conditions, no matter what form of warfare, no matter what enemy.”

I have to be honest, Samori  motivates me to want to learn more, strive more, do more and reach more.  Being a midwife, a doula, a birth worker… yall know… this work… it’s an honor. It’s a humbling privilege.  We are the ones that help women “give light.”  We are the ones that help create/maintain a sacred space for birth. We are the ones that protect the spirit of the youth as they enter into this world.  It’s wonderful to know that once my job is done, there are people like Samori who will grab the baton and continue to protect their spirits.   When I am so blessed to bring forth life into this world, it will be an honor to trust my children, their minds, and their spirits to the hands of Dr. Samori Camara. He is indeed doing what it takes to Birth Something Beautiful and to help our children do the same.

Fist Up Brotha Afrika…  Revolutionary Love!

Do you homeschool? Do you know Dr. Samori?  Share your story!

Oakland CA – Traditional Midwifery in Nigeria – A Workshop

I can’t answer any questions about this event. Please contact the organizers for more information but if I was in Oakland CA….. I would be at this event!!
 
Sacred Grove Traditions in collaboration with One3snapshot.com
presents The African Midwife in a Changing World lecture series

Traditional Midwifery in Nigeria (part 2)

A 2 hour presentation on Midwifery in Africa featuring direct from Nigeria 
Princess Maureen Ifeyina Johnson, Registered / Nurse Midwife
Friday, August 9th 6:30pm-8:30pm

Traditional Midwifery in Nigeria:  Practices in Okigwe land, Nigeria

Princess Maureen Ifeyinwa Johnson is a native of Umuna-Okigwe from Igwe’s family in Imo state . Princess Maureen is a registered Nurse/Midwife, family planning clinician, peri-operative Nurse (Theatre manager) and a Master degree holder in Public Administration. She lectured throughout Nigeria and the United Kingdom.  In addition, this proud mother is an activist, a leader and a minister.

She has held executive offices both in the national and state Association of Peri-operative Nurses of Nigeria.  She is the initiator and the first president of Mater Medic (doctor’s wives) Association of Abia state, Aba zone.  Princess Maureen is a direct descendant of Umuna-Okigwe Royal family and comes from a long legacy of traditional healers ; her grandfather a King and traditional healer specialized in healing women and children.  In addition,  her mother  worked as both a Traditional midwife and western trained midwife in the government hospital.

Participants will learn and receive:

  • Intro to traditional herbs & medicine plus handouts
  • Hands on preparation of traditional native postpartum soup
  • The status of Traditional Birth Attendants, their practices & the impact on Nigerian women
  • Certificate of Completion for 2 hour training
Who should attend this workshop: Midwives, Doulas, Birthworkers, Nurses, Childbirth educators , students, midwifery advocates

Workshop Fee:  
Community sliding scale: $20-$25   Students with ID:   $15
Location:  603 E. 15th St, Oakland, CA 94606
Contact: Asatu Musunama to RSVP (space limited)
ph: 510.692.2029  email:   sacredgrove7@gmail.com

Dear NYT: I’m Not a Status Symbol… I’m a Midwife

Last Friday, I received a tweet with a link to That NY Times article… you know the one… the one suggesting midwife deliveries are up because it’s “trendy.”  I skimmed the article quickly… gave out a small sigh of annoyance…  thought of writing a blog about it… decided against it… and went about my evening duties (I was busy finishing my 2010 AND 2011 personal income taxes and well……  that’s all I have to say about that LOL)

Then on Saturday, over on facebook, my friend Jill at The Unnecesarean posted the article with a question:  “The second question is just for the midwives here. How do you feel about being defined as a “status symbol for the hip?”  I scrolled down, reading through the many comments and began to type one of my own. It quickly turned into the beginnings of a blog post and so I deleted the comment and here I am a few days later… back where I started with a sigh of annoyance.

The NY Times article asks the question:  “Are midwives becoming trendy, like juice cleanses and Tom’s shoes?” HUH?? *scratches head* Likes Juice cleanses and Tom’s shoes? Side bar: I have NO idea what or who Tom’s shoes are but I can assure you… pregnancy, childbirth, and midwives are NOTHING like them.

And then the article immediately answers its own question:  “It seems that way, at least among certain well-dressed pockets of New York society, where midwifery is no longer seen as a weird, fringe practice favored by crunchy types, but as an enlightened, more natural choice for the famous and fashionable.”  Huh?? *side eye*

So here’s my answer to the question posted on FB…

I really don’t like it when I read things that make midwifery seem elitist; Articles such as this one that create the image of midwifery as something only for “THEM.”  This is not a new phenomenon. First, as this article points out, the rumor was/is… midwives were/are only for the hippies and crunchy types.  Now this article wants you to believe midwifery is no longer just for them (the hippies) it’s also now for THEM:  the rich and famous and fashionable types who wear Tom Shoes and who apparently want to be up on the newest “baby trend.”   This type of writing and thinking is not only annoying, its detrimental as it creates a mental barrier to midwifery for many women who can benefit most from the care of midwives.

The reality is…. Midwifery is best for ALL women.  Even “high risk” women can benefit greatly from midwifery care.  In my opinion, midwifery care should be the golden standard and midwives the required entry point for prenatal and birth care in this country.  Yes, we are seeing an increasing number of women choosing midwives.  This is something we should celebrate.  When we do, instead of calling the rise in midwifery a trend of the rich and fashionable, it would better serve midwifery and women if writers looked at the facts.  Facts BTW that women are learning and FACTS that women are using to make better and more informed choices for themselves and their families.

Fact – Women choose midwives because midwives provide more compassionate holistic care. Midwives decrease interventions and have lower cesarean section rates.  Midwives have longer appointment times and take care of families and communities not just pregnancies.  Midwives are most often women themselves and provide choices as partners not as dictators in pregnancy care. Midwives will be with you in labor cause that’s what we are and what we do… we are “With Woman.”

A mother quoted in the NY Times article said “When you go to a doctor, you’re left alone a lot. You don’t have someone sitting there, looking you in the eye, getting you through it. When I thought about what I wanted for my child and how I wanted to have my child, every sign pointed to going to a midwife.”  Now that’s a direct quote and I see nothing there that talked about fashionable trends, famous people or status symbols… did you?  Ummmmmmm right… u didn’t…. so where are these writers getting this foolishness from??

I do believe it’s important for midwifery to be written about in a positive light and over all… this article is positive.   We have to demand however that articles in these publications focus on FACTS… on better perinatal outcomes, costs savings, increased breastfeeding, decreased litigation, better relationships etc.   American women are not stupid and certainly the NY Times readership is far from unlearned.  It’s a shame that the NY Times felt a need to take midwifery and “dumb it down.”

The fact that this article was featured in the “Fashion and Style Section” says it all.  It certainly explains why they felt it was reasonable to write an article comparing the important work we do,  to something “Hip and trendy” like SHOES *BIG Eye roll*

I am NOT a status symbol… I am NOT a trend… I am a midwife with a goal to help women #BirthSomethingBeautiful….

So… I have said my piece… What did you think about that article??

Monday Musing: Erykah… Ebony… And a Missed Opportunity…

A couple of weeks ago I was standing in line at the grocery store and picked up the March issue of Ebony Magazine. I picked it up initially because of the cover. It featured Samuel L. Jackson as the “King of Hollywood” looking fine as ever wit his bad ass…. But I digress…

As I flipped the pages, I noticed there was an article about Erykah Badu and her road to midwifery.  Suddenly I was “forced” to purchase the issue. I’m always happy to see anything positive about midwives in mainstream media, especially outlets that are widely read by black women. I was surprised to see the article and wondered why no one in my birth circles had talked about it…Or… I thought to myself, maybe they did, and I was simply under a rock. Regardless, I made the purchase and decided I would read the article later that day… which ultimately jus became later… Two weeks later.

Once I read the article, I  was truly disappointed.  The article did not speak at all about the benefits of midwifery care, or the benefits of hiring a doula. It said nothing of perinatal disparities and the need for black women to get more involved and to take more control over their birth experiences. The article gave information that could easily be misunderstood/misinterpreted. And aside from the fact that the article featured Erykah Badu, who is a wonderful role model and spokesperson for normal birth… the article did a disservice to birth professionals, to black women and to #BlackBirth in general IMHO.

It is well known that back babies and black mammas nationwide have the worst perinatal outcomes, yet somehow when Ebony decided to write an article about midwifery they left these facts out.  We have heard the statistic before. The national infant mortality rate is approximately 6.42 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The rate for caucasian babies is less than the national average at around 5.3 deaths per 1,000 births while the rate for black babies is DOUBLE the national average with greater than 12 black babies dying per 1,000 births. In some states as many as 16 black babies die!!  Prematurity is the leading cause of infant mortality for black babies.  There are a host of reasons black women find themselves at increased risk for premature birth.  Ebony didn’t mention any of that.

Ebony left out information about the benefits of midwifery care and doulas.  They didn’t mention that research has shown repeatedly that Midwifery care with its attention to detail and focus on people and families not just bellies and babies, can turn birth disparities around.  Check out the work of one of my Midwife Sheroes Jennie Joseph for proof.   They left out advice about choosing a better doctor and getting better outcomes. Yep…. They left all of this out, all while doing things like calling a fetoscope a “maternity stethoscope”

I mentioned my annoyance to a couple of folk and their take on it was… “Well… This was an article about Erykah Badu not midwifery and pregnancy.” My thought… It was an article about Erykah and her path to midwifery… The two cannot be separated.   I thought to myself, maybe if they had covered these topics else where in the issue it would have been better.

Not five pages after the article on Erykah there was the “Wellness /Spirituality” section. Personally I can think of nothing that matches these two categories simultaneously more than midwifery. Yet… As I flipped through this section there is no word of pregnancy, birth, doulas, or midwives.

There was an article about Vitamin D.  Not a word about the research surrounding vitamin d deficiency and pre eclampsia; A serious pregnancy issue that disproportionately affects black women. There was even a blurb about clean teeth and heart attacks.  Again no mention of pregnancy, birth and the VERY STRONG link between dental hygiene and pre term labor.  Remember… preterm birth is the number one reason for infant mortality for black babies.

I was disappointed that Ebony fell short…waaaayyyy short.

They missed an opportunity to educate not only black women of child-bearing age but black families everywhere. And for that I say shame on you Ebony. Here was an opportunity to really serve the women who read your magazine and it was missed. I hope next time it will be different.

Did you read the Ebony Article? Do you feel like they missed an opportunity to help women Birth Something Beautiful™?  I sure do.

Welp… that’s my musing for this week…. Make it a GREAT one!
Don’t forget to follow me on twitter I’m @SistaMidiwfe

This Mother’s Day… I want to Say THANK YOU!!!

All week I contemplated what I would say as we came to another mother’s day.

Me and My Mother Jan 2010

Initially I was going to write a poem… a sort of “Ode to Mothers” if you will.  I had planned to say all of the wonderful things I could think to say about mothers. I was going to mention how strong they are, how loving they are, how connected and special they are and how they are the key to my calling: for without mothers there would be no midwives.  In the midst of my thoughts I took a flight for work and met a woman on her way to visit her newest grand baby.

Me and MA'Me! My Maternal Grandmother

I initially was not really interested in having a conversation with a stranger on a plane.  I was a bit sleepy; I had pulled a muscle in my back;  and in spite of the stretching, and the naproxen sodium, my back was killing me.  While I was not really up for conversation, I felt I had little choice when the perky lady sitting next to me stuck her hand out and said “Hi I’m Mary.”

I shook her hand reluctantly and we began the normal chit chat of strangers  on a plane.  She eventually said… “What do you do for a living if you don’t mind me asking?”   Over the years I have answered this question MANY different ways depending on the circumstances, who I was speaking with, and why they were asking.  This day I decided to simply say… “I’m a midwife.”  I said it flatly with no enthusiasm or any energy in my voice.  She continues to be oblivious to my lack of interested energy and exclaims “OMG!! That is wonderful. I am actually on my way to see my grand baby in San Antonio!!”

From that point on she couldn’t stop telling me about her family…  Her five children; Her five grandchildren; Her mother also had 5 children.  “There  is something about fives in my family”  I smile and nod and agree.

She tells me over and over how “Wonderful it must be to have a career where I get hugs after my work is done!” She says she can’t imagine working in such a profession where people are so grateful for the work I do.  She tells me she can’t imagine how rewarding that must be; participating in the miracle of birth.  “I mean having a baby is such an important time in a woman’s life.”  Yes it is important I say in agreement.  She keeps talking and I continue to smile and nod.

MA'Me... My Maternal Grandmother

She shares some of the details of her 5 births:  “My first 3 were ‘all natural.’  My daughter had an epidural.  And well you know they didn’t have all those inducing agents back then.”

She tells me the first three were really easy but she got an epidural with the last one.  “Well cause after Michael… you see he was 10 pounds and the hardest.  I was laboring and nothing was happening so my doctor gave me something to induce me.  And well his head came out easy but his shoulders wouldn’t come and the doctor had to work real hard to get him out. And he cut this huge episiotomy…  22 stitches I had to have…  but Michael did fine”

Yep,  she declared again… “Michael was the hardest but he turned out fine and well I thought I was done having babies but I kept having this dream.”  Three times she had this dream about having another baby.  She spoke with her husband about her dream and soon found herself happily pregnant with baby number 5 at 40 years of age.  “I got an epidural with that one. After Michael, I just couldn’t do it again”

Granny... My Paternal Grandmother

I love listening to women recall their birth stories so I smiled and nodded as she told me again how wonderful my job must be and how blessed I am to have such a wonderful profession.  As we were leaving the plane I told her to be sure to enjoy her newest grand baby.  She gave me her blessings to continue the wonderful work that I do helping mammas and babies.

And so to get back to this Mother’s Day… I just want to take a moment to say THANK YOU!!!  Thank you to God, to The Universe, to The Most High for giving me divine guidance so that I would answer my calling. Thank you for guiding me now as I receive continual signs that my time is near where I will once again be “with woman” helping them to birth their babies and become mothers.

Thank you to all the mothers who have allowed me to be a part of their personal miracles: both those who I have already met and those whose paths I will cross in my future.

Thank you to my mother, and  my grandmother, and her mother, and her mother, and all the mothers before her whose genetics I carry. The genetics that remind me I come from a strong line of powerful women.

Ma Pierre - My Maternal Great Grandmother

And finally I say THANK YOU to Mary from Kentucky:  a very proud mother and grandmother who reminded me just how wonderful it is to be a Midwife.  Who reminded me that it is indeed a miracle to be a part of birth,  and who reminded me that it is unique and special to be among the few who are blessed with the work of creating and supporting mothers .

My mother 3 months S/P Chemo! Looking STRONG!

Blessings and Happy mother’s day to all of you!!! May your days be filled with things that continue to  inspire you to Birth Something Beautiful!!

In Birth and Love
Nicole