Brave New Motherhood
The National Black Midwives Alliance

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To celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week, which is the last week of August, we’re honored to have partnered with the National Black Midwives Alliance. When you check out at Kindred Bravely, you’ll see a box where you can make a donation to this essential organization. We hope you’ll join us in supporting their mission, and we’re thrilled to share the feature below, written by the NBMA staff. 

In the past several months, the country has been experiencing a new level of reckoning about how racism and white supremacy affect Black lives. Within the field of maternal health care, we already know that institutional racismcontributes significantly to the disproportionate number of maternal and infant deaths among Black people compared to white birthing persons and their infants. Racism also limits access and opportunities for Black birth workers entering the field and creates unique challenges for birth workers striving to have thriving practices and careers.

At National Black Midwives Alliance (NBMA), a program of the Southern Birth Justice Network, we see Black midwives and birth workers as invaluable and irreplaceable. Our goal is to represent them. We also see that an empowered workforce of Black midwives can directly loosen the grip of racism. We need more Black midwives and birth workers to represent the diversity of clients needing care. Black birthing persons, infants, families, and communities need Black midwives.

Ultimately, the goal of the National Black Midwives Alliance is to have a representative voice at the national level that clearly outlines the various needs of Black Midwives.

NBMA’s mission is multifold. We aim to:

1. Increase the number of Black midwives and access to Black midwives in order to have more providers who can impact perinatal health disparities.

We aim to assist in removing the barriers that make it difficult for prospective Black birth workers and student midwives to thrive in the field. We believe that a more empowered midwifery field, strong in its diverse experiences and truly representative of the population being served, will help us tackle the perinatal health disparities that exist.

Raise awareness of black health care professionals

2. Raise public awareness that Black midwives exist and provide services in their respective communities.

Black midwifery has a long, incredibly rich history in the United States. It’s upon the shoulders of this rich history that we stand as an alliance. The first Black midwives in the United States were enslaved and served both Black and white women in childbirth. 

After slavery, Black midwives continued to be important health care providers. Black Grand Midwives served poor and rural communities of both races, and in many cases became important community leaders. 

Not only does Black midwife history deserve telling, but it is important to highlight the Black midwives who are currently providing much-needed, essential services to their communities. Raising public awareness alone is an important step towards tackling practices of bias and exclusion by increasing visibility and proactively asserting the right to inclusion.

black maternal and infant mortality rates

3. Support legislative efforts led by Black midwives and supporters in various states.

Policy is an important consideration in Black maternal health care. It is important that policy and legislative changes reflect genuine care for those who are unjustly marginalized. We support the work of Black birth workers, organizations, and allies, such as Black Mamas Matter Alliance, who are invested in political efforts that empower Black birthing people and their families.

advocacy for black student midwives

4. Advocate for and support the development of educational pathways for Black student midwives.

We launched the Black Midwife Mentorship Program in 2019. Each student-midwife mentee accepted into our program is assigned a mentor who can strengthen their personal and professional growth. Mentors help motivate our student midwives, expand their learning, and provide them a base of support. The advice of a more experienced midwife affords students invaluable connections and also fosters the transfer of intergenerational knowledge.

Another of our goals is to provide opportunities for professional training to student midwives. Our webinars, which are accessible to the general public, focus on various topics and offer student midwives opportunities for further learning, connection, and building. The webinars also provide opportunities for currently practicing midwives to address professional issues and further continuing education.

student midwives, birth outcomes

5. Establish and raise funds for a scholarship specifically designated for Black student midwives.

Economic accessibility is an important factor in student midwives' success. We are interested in ways that we can dissolve economic barriers to training and education. Our scholarship fund for Black student midwives is one way we are working on this.

6. Provide important member benefits.

As an alliance, it’s important that our members have the advocacy and representation that they need on every level of their birth work and midwifery practice. In addition to our mentorship program, for example, we also aim to support members with counsel, legal advice and representation, and access to discounted opportunities. Members are also kept informed with periodic newsletters and will soon have the opportunity to be included in a Black midwives directory. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we ran a successful fundraiser to supply PPE (personal protective equipment) kits for Black midwives.

To see what we’re up to and engage in the important conversations we’re having, visit blackmidwivesalliance.org and find us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

For any professional inquiries about us or our programs, please e-mail us at blackmidwivesalliance@gmail.com.

Donations can be made when you check out at Kindred Bravely for the remainder of August or via paypal.me/BlackMidwives

National Black Midwives, systemic racism in hospitals

National Black Midwives Alliance, systemic racism in health care