13: Black Maternal Health-Why Black Women Are 3-4 Times More Likely To Die In Childbirth Than White Women & How One Group Has Taken Action

Heidi Campbell


Hi! It’s Heidi. Welcome to the Birth Story Podcast Episode 13. I’m so glad you are listening because this week is Black Maternal Health Awareness Week. I’ve traveled to Asheville, NC to record with Maggie and Cindy from MAHEC (Mountain area health education center) and Mothering Asheville and SistasCaring4Sistas Doula program. You will hear from these 2 incredibly inspiring women who are leaders in their community fighting innovatively to change the disparity of maternal and infant mortality rates between black and white women.  The Doulas were trained by Chama Woydak of Homegrown Babies and certified by DONA. Cindy begins with her own birth story and losing her son shortly after birth.

If you are a black woman in the US with an advanced degree, you are 3-4 times more likely to die in childbirth than a white woman with a less than 8th grade education.

We are here to talk about WHY? And, What can and MUST be done to erase this statistic and to save lives.

  • The US is one of only 13 countries in the world where maternal death rate is worse than it was 25 years ago.

  • Only 4% of physicians are black

  • 900 women are dying each year in childbirth in the US and yet 60% of the deaths were deemed preventable.

  • Overall in the US the maternal mortality rate is 28.7 deaths per 100,000. When we break it down, black women comprise 40 per 100,000 compared to 12.4 per 100,000. So, it is really unfair to lump those numbers together because it doesn’t tell the true story here.

  • The next worst country for maternal mortality is New Zealand and their death rate is 11.9 per 100,000.



[00:00:00] What does a contraction feel like how do I know if I'm in labor? And what does a day of Labor look like? Wait, is this normal? Hey, I'm Heidi Campbell a certified birth Doula host of this podcast birth story and owner of my Doula Heidi. I've supported hundreds of women through their labor and deliveries and I.

[00:00:29] Give that every one of them and you deserves a microphone and a stage. So here we are listen each week to get answers to these tough questions and more birth story where we talk about pregnancy labor deliveries where we tell our stories share our feelings and of course chat about our favorite baby products and motherhood and because I'm passionate about birth outcomes.

[00:00:55] You will hear from some of the top experts in labor and delivery whether you. [00:01:00] Pregnant trying desperately to get pregnant. I hope you will stick around and be part of this tribe. Hey, it's Heidi before you start listening. I just want to jump on here and acknowledge something the sound recording of today's episode is less than what you are used to hearing on the birth story podcast, but there's a reason why this interview is so important that I traveled all the way to Asheville, North Carolina.

[00:01:26] With one microphone for three people sitting around the table having a really important discussion about black maternal health. So I hope that you can listen past all the imperfections for the beauty of the content in this episode. Hi, it's Heidi welcome to the, brr.  first episode 13. I'm so glad that you're listening because this week is black maternal health awareness week and I've traveled to Asheville North Carolina to record with Maggie and [00:02:00] Cindy from May heck Mountain Area health education center and mothering Asheville and sisters caring for sisters.

[00:02:09] You will hear from these two incredibly inspiring women. Who are leaders and this community fighting Innovative lie to change the disparity of maternal and infant mortality rates between black and white women. I'm recording today to learn to open my eyes to reach out across this Canyon and to share that the change must occur if you are a black woman in the United States, With an advanced degree, you are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than a white woman with less than an eighth grade education.

[00:02:51] Let that sink in I did not say that pregnant black moms are more likely to get an epidural.  Sadly, you heard me [00:03:00] correctly beautiful black pregnant women. Bursting with life are more likely to die.  We are here to talk about why and what can and must be done to erase the statistic and to save lives.

[00:03:18] So Cindy and my you thank you for joining me today. Thank you. Thank you quickly introduce ourselves. And then I'm going to get into a little bit of the numbers. My name is Cindy McMillan. I am a donut. Birth Doula. I'm also Lamar's trained childbirth educator. Breastfeeding peer counselor and the director of marketing and education for sisters camphor sisters the community-based Doula program.

[00:03:45] Yes, and I Maggie Adams and I'm a project manager for mothering Asheville, which is a movement here to address the black/white disparity particularly and infant mortality, but also any maternal [00:04:00] mortality, which this is catching fish is just part of. Cindy we didn't talk about this but I certified with Dona also back in 2008.

[00:04:10] So we have the same certifying right. So before we dig in with Cindy and Maggie, I just wanted to go over some of the statistics that many of the listeners may not be aware of I'll be honest when I did the research for this interview, some of this was very new and startling to me and that's why we're doing this so in the United States, We are one of only 13 countries in the world where the maternal death rate is worse than it was 25 years ago.

[00:04:41] Only four percent of Physicians are black.  900 women are dying each year in childbirth in the United States and yet sixty percent of those deaths have been deemed preventable overall in the u.s. The maternal mortality [00:05:00] rate is twenty eight point seven deaths per 100,000. Now that drives me crazy when I read that because if you break it down black women comprise 40 per 100,000 compared to 12.4 per 100,000 deaths and weight women.

[00:05:21] So it's really unfair that we want those numbers together because it doesn't tell the true story and we're doing this interview today to try to shed light on the true story. And then also the next worst country in the world for maternal mortality is New Zealand and their death rate is three times lower than the United States at 11.9 per 100,000.

[00:05:46] It's that so here we are. We're going to shed light. We're going to raise awareness. We're going to pave a way for action for maybe other municipalities in the country that are looking to do what it is [00:06:00] that you. They're doing here and we have so much to learn from you guys. So yeah, let's do it. So Cindy.

[00:06:11] Yes, let's start with you. Okay. Are you interested in sharing your birth story? Hmm. Well, I had some very unique birth stories. I will say for myself because I was I was young I had my first daughter when I was 20. And I almost died while I'm pregnant with her. That was when they didn't quite know 97 with hyperemesis was and there was just it was horrible.

[00:06:42] It was my only natural birth and then my second son five years later. It's lands and I remember kept telling the doctors that I was and I think I was like maybe 4 months and I kept stressing to them [00:07:00] that you know, I think I'm having more than one baby in here. It's more the one and it gets to know we saw only one baby.

[00:07:06] We're almost home one baby. So around my my seventh and a half month it relies. I was actually having twins and one of my twins had a heart defect. So there was trying to work diligently then to try to see what they can do in vitro, but it was nothing to do with set up but let me go ahead and have the twins say to the hospital for about a month before they would actually the delivery.

[00:07:37] I went under general anesthesia. And my delivery and when I came to I remember my bed just being wet soaking wet and was so much blood everywhere and I remember trying to talk and I was telling her nurses and you know skimmer for my husband at the time and I [00:08:00] just kept bleeding the doctor came in and I never forget she was like you need to stop bleeding or you're not going to make it.

[00:08:09] So in my mind, I was like what am I doing to make myself bleed? So I kind of just relax myself while they do what they have to do. I Was preparing myself to die on never bed. That's all I kept thinking was like I hope my my sons are okay. I hadn't had not had a chance to see them unit or anything, you know.

[00:08:32] Yeah, I made it through that but the hard part was the hospital taking my son to have a heart defect and they force the blood transfusion on him when he didn't need it and my other son who was actually here enough that's alive he needed a blood transfusion, but they didn't give it to him and no matter what I said and what I did it took me to court.

[00:08:59] [00:09:00] To take custody of my son and gave him the blood transfusion and within say three or four days he was dead.  So that was my trust of the healthcare system at that point because I was like, they wouldn't listen to me. They wouldn't listen to me and almost I almost died. And then my son have to pay to sacrifice because the doctor was not listening to me because I knew my bloodline my blood history.

[00:09:29] I know my mother had Licata clotting deficiencies. I knew that there was my sister had passed away from bleeding disorders and the citizen doing the research in the homework like was asking them to they didn't so I was that was the drive to the work. Doing right now, you know when I found out about a profession that actually supports women [00:10:00] and are there to be the extra year and really be there to be by their side I was so.

[00:10:09] Because that wasn't what I had experienced even with my husband being there or if he didn't know what was going on. He didn't know how to support at that time and he wasn't trying to respect my wishes for which were something happens. This is what I want you to do who none of that was respected on his end because he was in his feelings.

[00:10:30] But I don't Liz totally different. She has no judgment. She's she's letting you experience this bird things your way things may call you go wrong when I understand that but it's always better to have somebody there that understanding empathizing with you along the way when you were pregnant and you were preparing for your birth.

[00:10:56] First of all, I have a million things to say about I'm sorry that [00:11:00] they didn't listen to you. And I'm sorry that they didn't hear you when you know your body you knew there were two babies in there and they didn't discover that until. I started I mean that's just unbelievable to me about seven months of seven and a half months.

[00:11:19] So I'm sorry to hear a story and we as doulas are fighting to advocate for our mom's the back then did you did you had you ever heard of a doula? Did you think to have like a like someone besides, you know? Partner to be there. No, no, I never knew what I do. It was, you know, we hear stories about my grandmother she delivered at home, you know, so you've never heard about somebody support you you heard about your grandmother's mother [00:12:00] being there to deliver the baby or you know, all of those.

[00:12:03] The real don't ya feel doing so it was always a thing of well, this is what a woman has to go through what she starts bearing children. You kind of just. Deal with it. Nobody at that time was preparing you for the emotional things that you would want to go through all the changes all the physical changes the emotional changes the I mean.

[00:12:29] When you compile that labor in pregnancy on top of a past.  Whether it's good or bad you're compounding a lot. Yep. It's a lot of stress there. Yeah and most black women including myself didn't. Very Rosy packs So Not only was I. Pregnant now, but I was also traumatized as a kid in different areas of life.

[00:12:57] That's a whole like sexual abuse. I've [00:13:00] been there and right in there. So when it came down to that Livery, I was worried about my body image. I was worried about how I'm going to react to touch. I was worried about lights or male doctor female doctor. I was just someone going to take advantage is I was just so concerned about the things that.

[00:13:21] Past history. I wasn't in detecting my kid. I would never let anybody hurt my kid again. Like I was hurt or I would I would never let anybody, you know, my whole framework in my mind was different if I had somebody to talk to I could relieve some of that and been more. Yeah, you know, I mean to interject right there because we're going to get it to this I guess with you, but I want to say that.

[00:13:48] With the clients that I've worked with over the 15 years. I've been a doula that the trauma piece is like the biggest piece in my world [00:14:00] to birth outcomes. Yeah. I have plenty of moms that call me and say. I really want to have a natural childbirth and then we start digging into it and I find out that they have been.

[00:14:17] Getting raped sexually abused have big traumas and one of the things is a doula that we have to teach and train is that childbirth? It is very difficult and it will get you to your core of corn and all of your things come out. Yes. So all the things that we talked about and we're going to talk about today with labor and delivery one of the pieces.

[00:14:46] I think that's hidden. Is what we bring to birth the birth when those contractions start and you are forced inside yourself. [00:15:00] You're going to face some things that you maybe didn't want to face. And those are what that's probably another whole topic for another day, but first outcome. Related to past trauma and then that where that leads you so you had so many things you had a trauma you had a baby at home already.

[00:15:26] Now, you're pregnant again with a medical community that's not listening to you. Yeah, and then I'm sorry that your baby died.

[00:15:38] Yeah, yeah, I was above it was rough and I don't I don't want another mind ever have to experience it. Health Care profession no not listening to them. You know, I always look at them as they're practicing medicine and there's always a bedside manner. Sometimes you got to listen to who you [00:16:00] taking care of it.

[00:16:01] No their body way better than any way, you know, I'm saying I think in the in the black community, I never had high blood pressure before but I caught a blood pressure when I was pregnant and all that stress. It's just now was my third pregnancy when my husband and I did I got high blood pressure really bad and I start thinking I'm just not doing this right everybody else have this lowly pregnancy and lovely, you know, they can be being pregnant and eat what they want to eat in here.

[00:16:34] I'm just so full of stress my blood pressure shooting up through from getting headaches and that's a yes fluid and then they're gonna call. Syrian, you know and you don't really want that either but don't you understand I want and no this has to happen because your blood pressure pool is we help alleviate some of that stress.

[00:16:58] Yeah, you can throw their weight on [00:17:00] this we hold that space. I love that. I love that. You know, you don't have people out there that do that. So Mike where was doulas and 97. It wasn't in my neighborhood. The first verse I did was 2005 and I didn't I'd never heard of a doula either, but I had a friend and she said.

[00:17:23] Just come be with me. I need someone with me for this birth and can support me and I walked out of that delivery. I thought my whole world just changed and my sister said you were her doula. Well, what is it doing? So this is going to help me transition to bring Maggie. And because you told me when your regnant you didn't know what to do.

[00:17:54] It was I didn't know what to do Lewis, but now here we are two Duelists. So how does that [00:18:00] happen? Inter Maggie? Yeah, so. I didn't know what to do. I was 5 years ago either. So this work that embarked. Where's this is Cam Four Sisters was born started about four and a half years ago with a grant through the Blue Cross Blue Shield foundation and of North Carolina Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.

[00:18:27] And it was a grant that came out called the community center cows home and it was based off of a model that the Prevention Institute had come out with that really says there's factors outside of the healthcare system that are contributing to health inequities in health disparities. And so at that time I was working at me hack and may heck OBGYN how to apply for that Graham.

[00:18:54] We have no idea what you're going to do with it. It was one of the first times that [00:19:00] we started thinking about like, hey, let's do this a little bit differently. And so when we first started doing this work, we had no idea that we were going to be focusing on black white disparity or I've learned recently where we really want to be calling it an inequity because disparity is just a difference where in that would inequity is preventable and unjust.

[00:19:24] Um, so that's one of the things in language that we're trying to to shift a little bit. But when we started this grant, well we wanted to do was start building trust and relationship and Community. How much money did you get from Blue Cross Blue Shield so $125,000, okay. And free autonomy to do whatever you want with the money or the autonomy, but for the most part, yeah, it was it was like we don't know what to do.

[00:19:57] We want you guys to teach us how to do it and [00:20:00] tells you know what you're figuring out and how you do that and the motto really says that like the idea is that there's three things that you really have to be doing simultaneously to. Of outcomes and I say had to build community capacity also make a clinical shift and you don't have to address the policy even the environment where people live work and play.

[00:20:24] And so what happened was that we had started two groups one group, which was in history View Apartments, which is a public housing neighborhood here in Asheville, North Carolina in Asheville public housing is primarily occupied by black people here in this city, which is due to historical trauma and institutional racism a lot of that started and in the 70s with urban renewal and just kind of continue to.

[00:20:53] For on and on and on in this city and Asheville today stanzas, you know the [00:21:00] second most gentrified city in the United States. Our black community has continued to lesson lesson every year. We are seeing this as public health people and not really understanding, you know, all the contacts. We're also a white women that are like, okay, we're going to go try to build trust in a community with black women.

[00:21:20] Don't really know what that's going to be like, so when we start yeah, does that mean everyone that was working on the grant was white? That point yes that went. Okay. Yeah, which is pretty typical of most of the times that's white folks. Love to write grants to go into black communities and fix them.

[00:21:40] That is literally the pattern that we have seen for so long I Ran So it's you know, I laugh about it is really messed up that is what is done over and over and over again to Black communities and like [00:22:00] no wonder why there's no trust. You know what? No wonder why the black community doesn't trust the white Community doesn't trust the Healthcare Community like we just come in and we're like, oh we're why like we're going to fix this we know how to do it, but we don't know anything about you.

[00:22:17] We don't know what it's like to be a black person living in America. We don't understand what it's like to be disenfranchised and have everything taken away, but we know how to fix you. Yeah, so I'm going to enter up right there. So what? Let's answer that question answer that question. So Cindy you are a doula you are black you are in this community.

[00:22:39] You know what it's like so let's answer Maggie's question that she's putting out there. What what is it like for we just heard your story but also the stories of the women that you're serving right now through this program. Which I guess we'll get to in a minute how you're doing that [00:23:00] but tell tell me about who they are how they feel about health care how they feel about hospitals how they feel about their pregnancies.

[00:23:11] Now. We're going to take a short break to just share a few things with you and we'll be right back with our guest. I'm so excited to tell you about my first book that I wrote that is launching this summer. Is that 42 week guide to your pregnancy? It's a collection of birth stories. It has a ton of dual advice from all of the questions that my clients have asked me over the last 14 years.

[00:23:37] It has hysterical partner tips that you will want to read to your partner and it has journaling prompts because nobody has time to write a 20-page has in their. About their pregnancy. So I've taken the Liberty to give you some props of things that I think you might want to remember back on after the baby's born.

[00:23:58] So again, you can go to burst [00:24:00] or and pre-order a copy today and it would mean the world to me. Hey guys, if you're enjoying this podcast then I need your help to spread the word if you know anyone who is pregnant is trying to become pregnant or just loves a good birth story. If you could send them to iTunes or Stitcher or Spotify or SoundCloud wherever they listen to their podcast and ask them to subscribe.

[00:24:27] To the birth story podcast.  mmm, well.  It's sad, but Maggie is is hitting the nail on the head. She's absolutely correct. And even now it's there's no trust. There's no trust. I mean if it wasn't for the fact that Maggie and the other ladies that did come to this View and actually genuinely. Wanted to build a relationship without no one knowing the [00:25:00] background noise without I mean they would take their time rain Sunshine.

[00:25:05] It was today picnic table and they were generally hear us out. This is coming in saying what we're bringing this to the community. It was none of that we came up with they give us the freedom to come up with ideas and freedom to empower you and they they gave us the tools to actually Empower ourselves.

[00:25:26] Because certain things that they knew about that was going on within the community didn't reach our community. So once they start saying we have an invitation here it would you guys like to show up and like okay, you know getting something some more information and once we heard on top of each one of our deliver all of us we have adverse great stories, just answer.

[00:25:55] It went to a conference and heard about the [00:26:00] immortality right here in Buncombe County and it sends us into like a rage we were so upset was so hurt because in our minds for years after we had our kids I was thought that. The government was trying to kill us the healthcare system is trying to kill us.

[00:26:18] Why why is there so much unfair treatment with black women versus white women if this was a I would say if if I wasn't black my son was still be here. If I wasn't black I wouldn't have led like I did on that table. They would have been there to take care of me things would have been explained differently.

[00:26:38] You know, I couldn't prove that for a fact I couldn't say that for a fact I just. I felt but now and as a doula actually can see it. So I wasn't wrong now. It's like you're watching it action or why why would a healthcare provider get into a field where [00:27:00] he cannot adequately equitably treat Every Woman child person the same.

[00:27:07] Why would you take on the role of being in charge of someone's life when you can't do it like little food? So then I start thinking in another way of Money Talks. So we're ponds are bodies are Tom's our kids are Pawns in a money exchange can't do that. But it was awesome. Like it's coming down to on top of where black we hold no value in the world and it shouldn't be like that.

[00:27:35] I feel that so Injustice. So in jest, you know, I almost love our children just the same. The other mom my mom sacrificed for their children just like any other mom. Once you get pregnant, you can't go back. You know, I see them fighting for abortion rights and abortion abortion that what do you think about a mom who's pregnant and loses her child?

[00:27:58] What about a mom [00:28:00] who's pregnant and loses her life. That should be held on the higher pedestal in someone who sing I can't do this right now, right? What about the one that's doing right now? You can't fight. Before approach can be pro-life and just save lives if you're not going to support those lies a dream, right?

[00:28:18] Which I think is also I mean what you see a lot when there was like a contingent over the woman's part and it was like that. This is a white woman's March right? Because a lot of that idea is like especially as white liberals often times. We we have these ideas about, you know, how Progressive we are and how we're doing all of this work for women's rights without looking at the intersection.

[00:28:40] Body how much privilege we actually have is white women versus the privilege that a black woman does not have the same spray. And so that's like what we're seeing so much of right is that like we are getting to this point where like not understanding that like [00:29:00] literally just as much as like we're seeing like, you know, black people shy and killed black babies are dying and black moms are dying because of the health care.

[00:29:10] The song is the same thing same thing. So interesting that you say that and I'm going to say something. I probably comment away everyone but how much privileged white woman has who's straight? Who's married to a white man? Whether we want to believe it or not, we get more power and more privileged when we marry a white man.

[00:29:41] So here you yeah. So let us go back to how Maggie is indeed are connected to have helped, you know, what to do is and to become a doula. I'm so looking at our women because I. [00:30:00] That you know I'm saying we were children we populate you know, so, you know, they always say which came first the chicken or the egg, you know, we we are intricate part of society whether you blab why green purple, it doesn't matter why the in Equitable treatment.

[00:30:22] I mean, we're 2019. This is a whole nother generation. This is a whole nother. I mean we're actually had a place where we should be having each other's back. We supposed to be supporting each other looking out for each other and have a. Racism play such a big role and Healthcare. That's scary.

[00:30:48] That's scary and sad it's hugely. Scary. So many as part of May heck in the Scranton the initiative like what do you see you put the was in place and you [00:31:00] have been so creative and so novel and creating a system for change. But what were you seeing? What are you seeing Yeah, you mentioned three pillars earlier.

[00:31:11] Yeah, so I don't know. Start by saying like that do as are actually who chose the lady's honor to do was now without any influence from us white people shows and said, this is a solution that we have decided that we know. Yeah, we chose that so when you move into the community and you said I have no agenda.

[00:31:34] Yeah, let's talk. Yeah. For a year and a half for year and a half before we did anything with no. This is the way we're going to do it is how do you want to do it? What solution is this community need? Yes, Cindy and your peers said we need women supporting women during their pregnancy during their labor during their delivery and their [00:32:00] postpartum care.

[00:32:00] We need a. Well black woman supporting a black woman through their health care in your community. How many black OBGYNs are there? I haven't seen any okay have this eighth inning? That's it. We and you know what we have women asking from when I was fun. We can't produce the movie but they love our support.

[00:32:25] I mean, I mean, I love are supporting we asked for we had to see him Black nurses either little up to recently and so it's little change at a time but it's on so where did the term Doula kind of surface and when you're having these Community conversations someone might have known what to do.

[00:32:51] Melissa maker online like dear friends amazing woman. She invited came award egg and she got all [00:33:00] her you know, she told us she was inviting came of what I saw the table. It was our first time. It's actually sitting down the camera and so who is came tell everybody. Yeah. We we met but we met her at a time we had for the picnic.

[00:33:20] When the reason I don't mother saving for the women and physically and make it a de-stressor, you know and came with came and she's tabled one of the events. We have massages and acupuncture and food is gonna just relaxing candles and he ended up coming to the picnic table and we didn't know at the time that came up was into love.

[00:33:43] She had her own through the company and what's the name of your company homegrown baby's hungry babies, and she's here out of. Shown here a Nashville. Okay, and she came to the table as we mentioned all the things we really wanted to do after was angry just like I have a skill. I would like to teach [00:34:00] you ladies if you would if you were willing to learn and I was like, okay.

[00:34:11] She's like Doula does the first time we actually. Heard the word now. We was thinking support and isn't that for women and black women, you know Health disparities infants dying, you know, and when she said doing that explain what I do love us, he's like, oh, yes. Oh, yeah excited and like. Eager to learn what what does job entailed some places job.

[00:34:43] He has a job application, you know that let's be certified in something that could actually benefit our community and we started the training in November [00:35:00] 2016 and we were so excited. It was a start learning it. We don't want to stop learning and we haven't stopped learning each. This year has been so the train came from Pima and homegrown babies and our grant and the Grant and do things differently and a lot of that came from understanding the historical context of how black people in Asheville happened historically disenfranchised over and over again.

[00:35:36] And so that's why we were like, oh, We're going to use that Aqua not going to come with a solution. We want to First build a relationship. We want to understand what's going on perspective of people that actually are living the experience that we think we understand and our healthcare providers that it happened and all the best for the beginning to talk to that much better and I can as like this preconceived notion of like all the [00:36:00] reasons that black women and black babies are dying without even thinking about the historical context of racism.

[00:36:07] And so. Really hot wings and he's talking about like racism today that's only like a product of hundreds of years of racism slavery and Jim Crow for sterilization of black women up until recently black bodies have been like used and abused over and over again by my people and if we didn't have that historical context, I think we wouldn't have been able to kind of take that stuff back.

[00:36:35] And so that's been an important part of our work is how. That historical knowledge. And so when the ladies had this audio event, which they were like, this is what we want to do stresses. What's one of the biggest factors that like we see we want to give people a chance to just relax. It's okay and when they said, you know, we want this door training.

[00:36:54] That's the whole idea right was. All right, you have a solution we have the [00:37:00] money. We have the resources. Let's make it happen. Yeah, they do is Sister campuses with. Warren and birth through these ladies and so so that's where kind of the story comes so creative Innovative and blessing empowering think you may act like thank you guys for for just not being another group of white people pushing your agenda.

[00:37:30] On a community, you don't know anything about like this is so revolutionary there are Mayors and people that have Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Healthcare is of the world that could hear this and say like this is something that's worth. It can be replicated. It can be modeled. It can be shared.

[00:37:52] Across the whole across the world that across the country. So where are we now? So Cindy tell me about [00:38:00] this is caring for sisters. This is Kathy sisters. We have really evolved in the past several years we would stand with you was just saying it made me think that one of the other beautiful parts and pieces to this that I am so thankful.

[00:38:17] And I know the other ladies are really thankful for is. Able to help bridge the gap and the trust within the community of women and health care providers here and they had a lot of other women. We we support our patients of me heck or you know, and so because we are working so closely with the health care providers and we're working so closely with the community we are able.

[00:38:48] Kind of show the community every healthcare provider isn't that bad and every healthcare provider? We can explain their roles? Yeah [00:39:00] and vice versa and what happens if you come across a healthcare provider that needs some cultural or sensitivity training like if you I've been at Birth swear, I didn't like what I saw what went down neither one of it happen either one of those ladies are silent good.

[00:39:17] Give you a platform Never Gonna Change. We're not Island. We're not having when we're in hospital settings. We're not silent and here with on campus at Manhattan. One of the reasons why is because in order for this to be successful you going to have to have those hard conversations you're going to have to you're not going to agree all the time, but it's called respect respect that this is a whole different culture than you're dealing with and the culture itself.

[00:39:46] Got to respect this. Who has been kind of putting the place to be a health care provider? And if you don't like them you can always request another one. Yeah, you know, you don't have to be stuck right here. Yeah. I heard something [00:40:00] that does give you more voice and more power. So Frank has to Blanco executive director of my heck shared with me that because of the training from came on home grandbabies through the training through Dona International, which is a certifying body that.

[00:40:17] The Duel is here that are part of this program have been given a may help badge. Oh, yeah to wear to the hospital. Yes, and I'm thinking that past that comes with power Haley also one of the program's this is campus sisters and then lot of the newest here are open to going to the operating room with our clients if it's just so happened to be a cesarean and you know, that is amazing because our sir.

[00:40:48] It doesn't stop what we're doing here with all three considered staff, you know time benefits. This is [00:41:00] unbelievable because that support should never end actly just because the birth went from a vaginal delivery to a cesarean delivery your support system should be able to be. And to be by your side.

[00:41:19] Yeah for the whole entire process. Oh awesome. Okay, pause so excited about so many things tell me about how you engage the community know about now a couple years later that we have six doulas on staff. We're here to serve you. How does a woman who becomes pregnant today? Find you get your services and then walk me through your process your Doula you're doing you're doing what do you do for these women for the the a [00:42:00] tizzy?

[00:42:01] Well right now we have a lot of systems in place to get our name Out Sisters campus sisters is well known that then people discover your apartments and one reason. It's because we also host a mother mother program for women in the community with kids and we meet once a month and we just talked about everydays life and get things off my chest system.

[00:42:31] It's a group of women and their amazing mean they just open up about concerned stressors things going on in their life lot of them have newborns or older kids. So we didn't stop our picnic table. It just evolved and I get more women. I love Chef is just growing going to know that we support in our women and all avenues.

[00:42:56] We we are known here admit. Hey, can we [00:43:00] have a doula that works with the centering program? So she's with pregnant women all the time. We stood a lot of speaking events. We have our Facebook. And a little that form Partners food Partners is add a lovely apartment. How many women like What's Your Capacity like pretty much like how many women could you could do?

[00:43:27] I mean because you've condemned to be a dual you have to be on call. I mean, I'm not asleep and then I a now let me go into labor at night. You have to do pre needles you have to build a relationship. I mean, so what's your capacity? Right now we are we are really busy. Did he return to really really busy here which is good for us.

[00:43:49] I'm we're having a one of our developers to she's actually doing three to four words a month, which is that's a lot. That's a lot and she's do a little of I'm glad we [00:44:00] have another one was the one about the same mine are more spaced out because I also do the marketing education. So I'm also in the process to get my certification for teaching.

[00:44:13] CCE so that takes a lot of studying but my books are still fool. I'm doing like one or two words a month. Okay, so if I hired you today, or I was calling you and saying, you know, I want you to be my Doula like I tell me where to sign. I want to join your program at may I want to be part of this then what happens where you want to be a new low you want to be a client.

[00:44:41] Well first we will. Have a referral system set up now, and I'm so our women go through who wants to do with Majesty for us. They have to meet certain criteria ears. Okay now and one of the main criterias is being African-American been a woman of color. Okay, what [00:45:00] does it mean that we only serve women of color?

[00:45:02] But that's one of the criteria set actually. You think presidents over everything else? We also work with teen moms, you know to so but once we do that and then we are fine. We have a doula call you once Li go to the criterias your risk factors things. That's one of the usually of a referring doctor and confer you for the health care physician and then our director of operations would give you a call and tell you you do it is and then Within.

[00:45:34] Weak couple days that will call you. I set up a meeting. So you guys can sit down and talk to see if you are fit for each other and we're not be a fit for each other. We haven't had one that hasn't. In I'm thinking well, you see if you are fit for each other and if it clicks and your to look and we doesn't we don't set it at like 30 one week 32 weeks.

[00:45:58] Please take you from the [00:46:00] moment. You ready for delay could be 19 weeks. It can be eleven twelve weeks when you feel like you need that support. You need that support who put a time exactly put it on my phone that a week on that. Yeah, I have had moms that have hired me like the. They found out they were pregnant a lot of moms that did IVF and had long fertility Journeys and just knew that they needed that support from you know, the moment they started it's beautiful is I believe that the longer.

[00:46:31] YES station you have with your with your new life the better the outcome acting. So now I really do because you get to spend so much more time with them walking with them, you know spending that time questions before you getting so many questions like I don't feel so happy today what's going on here able to say well, what can we do to make you happy?

[00:46:54] What would you like to do today? I'm free for a couple hours. What do you want to go home go home walk, you know. [00:47:00] Just a little bit so sad. So my really does and is listening. Do you go to the doctor's visits with your client? Yes. Do you call them clients? Sometimes I call them mom's? I'll call him by the name.

[00:47:17] Yeah, I did know I was I call my clients my clients, you know. Yeah, sweetie hospitals would treat all women as customers or clients not patients. You know, I'm like. Usually when you're pregnant, it's. It's not a National Emergency, you know little more customer service. I try not to even think of them as clients either because it sounds so businesslike because this is even though this is a business you want a personal assistant personal, you know, they knew and that personal like a so [00:48:00] I can these moms are not distant sisters mean sisters.

[00:48:04] We supposed to the guys at the yeah. That's what sister well get their direct referrals. From a healthcare provider or from a partner within a community organization around us that are they saying that but then there's also word of mouth. And so that's where that big clinical shift is that their Community Based the laws that are also within healthcare clinic.

[00:48:27] That are able to build that connection like sending them are talking about earlier. And so this hearing you talk just brings me back to all those terms again. Yeah, novel innovated only fail if you're listening should not just be covered. With Medicaid as well. I think all over the board every woman deserves on Tula.

[00:48:47] Hey woman should have a dual it with in childbearing age. I must it's a mass I say that I promote the Midwifery these I promote the [00:49:00] doulas. I think those two combined we're really onto something hat. So yeah. Yes. I actually just had UnitedHealthcare cover my services in full. AT&T employees, so I will give a big shout-out on this podcast that I at least have one employer that is paying for Doula services in full through Commercial Insurance.

[00:49:26] Estimator is change that is its Brewing. It's coming, you know, that's right. That's why we're here. So I want to go back to are you a hundred percent hospital-based? What if one of you were? As say I feel the most comfortable birthing my child in my home or do is there a birthing center here?

[00:49:48] Yeah, we have a matching. So tell me about that. We're what are their options for delivering in this program. They have the option of the hospital or the birthing center. Okay. Yeah, and [00:50:00] this is a this house traumatic some women are because of our health care System. We had a mom who actually delivered at home because she was a child is afraid to transfer the transfer.

[00:50:11] The hospital so, you know and that goes to show how traumatic them hospitals can be for our community. She knew the baby was coming in. But like I'm not going anywhere when she did go to the hospital. They was ready to take her baby away. For no other reason other than delivering at home. Is anyone listening outside of North Carolina home birth in North Carolina for some reason did have a whole podcast on that is illegal.

[00:50:45] So I'm assuming that this happens quite often when you have any what's called an accidental I have also had clients that had an [00:51:00] accident. Precipitous labor, you know I've had but then had a load of paperwork. So even they call nine-one-one ambulance comes the baby's already here and taken to the hospital and they are immediately like.

[00:51:14] Trying to enjoy and embrace the beauty of life that just occurred in all that's happening is Judgment. Yeah anger. You could couldn't I can't help that my water broke and I had the urge to push. I'm 45 minutes away from the hospital in traffic. Thank you Health Care Community for your judgment, you know, but I'm here now.

[00:51:37] So anyway, lots of tangent, you know, go on. So let's talk about actual like labor and delivery. So you've done the prenatal care you've built a relationship and then your mama calls and says, I think it's time to go do you labor with them [00:52:00] at home? If that's what they want is, I believe that sole up to them.

[00:52:04] We ask them to call us. Don't text you can text any other time except when you think you're in labor if. Uncertain we make sure we say well, why don't you call your health care provider? See what they say. Call me back on. Yeah, you know let me know what's going on. I can come over labor with you walk with you whatever usually if it's time to go and I'll be like meet you at the hospital, you know, and we get there I usually get there but while this children though, we are pause for a minute you we have spoken that this community many times is low income is transportation to the hospital and issue as those were not allowed to provide transportation.

[00:52:49] Um, which would be amazing if we did but we don't so usually it will have some I bring them over. [00:53:00] Okay, it may have allowed to provide money for Uber Lyft or you know something if Transportation more an issue, we're not there yet, but we're working on it see where I'm getting at though. Yeah, it's illegal to burn your baby at home.

[00:53:14] But yeah, we don't help moms get to the hospital with Transportation. Okay. I should have one nugget. Yes, ma'am. Okay, so you get to the hospital one way or the other but you have to meet them there since you can't provide transportation, right? And then you've got your back. Yes. Boom, maybe heck do I don't a certified homegrown babies trained in my purple scrub.

[00:53:42] You wear your purple scrap fastest this campus sisters on one side, man. Oh, he's like this on the other side and my little bag. Well, my little Necessities I massage oils my. Essential oil [00:54:00] spray bottle but we gotta give you my mom's get to wear whatever they want to labor in know so they don't do it.

[00:54:07] You know, they don't get told that unless we tell them Advocate see ya someone. Happy Keating. Yes. We're you know that, you know, I still have a certain amount of Wireless monitors. There's some actual wireless monitor so they can move it and not gonna offer them to you or intermittent monitoring, you know.

[00:54:27] Then continuous monitoring. So we come in handy. We know now you're massaging your labor and do many of your mom's prefer a natural childbirth or an unmedicated epidural birth. Do they have a strong opinion either way, um, a lot of mom's going to say realize that they do love passing traits in the bag kind of coasting through certain things that you can do you get you willing to do to help alleviate some of the pain the pressure counting through it.

[00:54:56] Actually, Sean one telling them and showing them what their body's doing. [00:55:00] Maybe more added to want to try it. Without any intervention good but we always let it be known. We don't judge you we don't have is this your birth? However, you want to label we can work with you. If you get that epidural we could still laboring that bad being good and right there what you just said.

[00:55:17] They're getting a voice in their ear that they're not getting anywhere else that says, this is your birth. This is your body as you have choices. You have control. What do you want? Yes. So going through the labor and delivery and getting to know this and you we've already mentioned in your community there.

[00:55:38] We just don't have any black OBGYNs. What do you want to share with the medical community across the country like if you are a white OBGYN right now and you're thinking I don't want any of any. On [00:56:00] the feel. I'm not doing this on purpose. I don't know. I don't want to make the black women that I serve feel like they are not heard which is the biggest issue here institutional or structural racism is black women voicing and then being shut down and not heard.

[00:56:21] So what advice can you give from this community from your experiences to White OBGYNs? Across the country, I would definitely say they need to just really appreciate if this time judging a book by it's cover because it's deeper than that. I would like for a Healthcare Community to find that place of empathy.

[00:56:50] You know, if you can't for some reason see past color and try to imagine that being your mother or your sister or [00:57:00] your aunts and that bed or even your grandmother because at one point in time, you wouldn't be here without. Through the same process and you know things about the body, you know how the body works because it's such a go to school for.

[00:57:18] transfer some of your study your education into humanity is the Humane thing to do. Um, so I see more people take care of their animals better care of their animals and black women that's hurtful and that's coming from a black woman. That's that's just real. We're no different. We're no different.

[00:57:43] We love our children. I don't care what lot in life. We've had how much finances we have. How how how dark our skin color is it does not matter. So I think they need to take a step back. [00:58:00] Take a step back and look look it's no different. I think you're saying is skin color start looking at us as people as women as women.

[00:58:12] Equitable women we deserve it we deserve it. Yeah. Thank you for sharing. Thank you guys for saying yes to this conversation and for teaching me and for sharing your story and as we kick off the week this week for black maternal health awareness, you know, I just really appreciate being here.

[00:58:41] Thank you for listening to birth story. My goal is you'll walk away from each episode with a clear picture of how labor and delivery might go and that you will feel empowered by the end of your pregnancy to speak up plan and prepare for the birth. You want [00:59:00] no matter what that looks like.