“The historical role of the African American midwife was one of hope and health; whose expertise helped define cultural perceptions of motherhood, protected, uplifted and empowered women and men, and improved maternity care in communities across the nation…She carried valuable information, passed on by predecessors across generations, that positively impacted the social health of the family structure and overall health of the community. With her eradication, so was her guidance.” -Shafia Monroe
Holistic Birth Collective is a Black-led non-profit organization providing community-based (out-of-hospital) perinatal care and planned homebirth, and postpartum services to pregnant and birthing persons. Our mission is simple: to increase the availability and accessibility of person-centered maternity care that is evidence-based and is responsive to the needs of Black, and other at risk families. We believe midwives, when empowered to work in community-based settings, foster health and life in the Black community at large and are a solution to dismantling the structural and medical racism that has been killing Black mothers for more than a century.
Here at HBC, we know that Black women are not broken; the system is broken. We will not tolerate a discourse that pathologizes Black women. Organizations pitching policy interventions that focus on giving Black mothers “education” on making “healthy choices” might be well-intentioned, but they’re missing the point. We need to get to the structural and cultural root of the problem that is killing Black women and that is obstetric racism.
When researchers actually think to ask American mothers what they would want for their future births, Black/African-American mothers express greater interest in having planned home births than any other racial/ethnic group in the United States (see: the Listening to Mothers Surveys from 2013 and the California-specific iteration from 2018). And yet, Black mothers are significantly less likely than white women to have access to planned homebirth.
Much of this is attributable to the fact that the majority (over two-thirds) of planned homebirths were paid for out of pocket in the United States from the years 2004-2017. For comparison, only 3% of hospital births in the United States are self-paid. Because Black women are more often dependent on Medicaid or limited private insurance, they are deprived of access to planned homebirths even though the third-party expenditures are almost always lower than for hospital deliveries and controlled studies demonstrate superior maternal outcomes with no negative effect on neonatal outcomes.
The Heart Beat of Holistic Birth Collective is to eliminate racial disparty. According to research, African American women are nearly six times more likely to die from pregnancy related complications than are white women. African American women are also two to three times more likely to experience preterm birth, and three times more likely to give birth to a low birthweight infant. We find it Heartbreaking that Black infacts are about 230 percent more likely than white infants to die before their first birthdays.
Through commitment, support, and offering quality care that is culturally sensitive and tailored for each famiyly we collectively can significantly improve these birth outcomes. And in doing so improve families and communities, one birth at a time. As a community we can rally together to more easily provide exceptional birthing experiences to women of all demographics. Those who are connected here strive to encourage mothers in their womanhood to create healthier birth environments, and to make prenatal care and birthing education accessible to all women. We believe every birth is uniquely special and sacred. The bond between mother and baby is so imperative and must continue to be supported, respected and honored.
The Heart beat of this Collective is to work together to empower families that will lead to thriving and healthy birth outcomes. We are committed to provide unconditional care and celebrate in love the unique journeys of having babies. Whether you’d like to join the heartbeat and/or need some love for your body, mind and baby, we’re here for you.
In May 2020 Sister Star made a testimony to the Senate Licensure Group highlighting the need to legalize midwives in Illinois. In her address she points out the harrowing depth of racial disparity both in regards to black childbirth and COVID-19 difficulties. Midwives, as she defends, can seriously lessen these major issues and foster health and life to the black community at large. If you would like to read Sister Star’s Testimony, click below.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Midwives Model of Care™ is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events. The Midwives Model of Care includes:
- monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
- providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
- minimizing technological interventions and
- identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention.
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