Supporting local black Doulas
I’ve been lucky to make some really amazing Doula friends here in Pittsburgh, in a birth world that isn't always the friendliest. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of folx are welcoming , & as kind & ethereal as social media makes us out to be, but the truth is many get into birthwork as a business to make money & not everyone wants to share their spotlight, or spend their privilege. But in a society that really NEEDS MORE DOULAS, as our rates of maternal & infant mortality show us we do, what’s more important to me than money & kindness in birthwork is REALNESS.
My friend Syreeta Gordon of Kangaroo Birthing is one of the realest people I’ve met here, while kind and generous, she also doesn’t shy away from the actual work that needs to be done here in Pittsburgh, and especially for the black community in Pittsburgh. Because while Instagram will tell you that Doulas are for middle class white women, the truth is the real work is in Communities of Color, where babies are dying at 2-3x the rate of white babies, & Black birthing folx are 40% more likely to get a c-section, 25% don’t meet their birth attendant until they are in labor, and 1 out 5 report being racially discriminated against by hospital staff (and those are just the folx who REPORT). In our country Black birthing folx have the highest rates of c-sections, inductions, & preterm birth, all of which increase the risk of maternal & infant mortality. Here in Pennsylvania our health system is ranked SECOND TO LAST in the country in the disparity of preterm births between black and white babies. How do you combat all this? INCREASE THE AVAILABILITY OF DOULA CARE, particularly Doulas of Color. Doulas are shown to decrease c-section risk by 50%, & increase the rate of spontaneous labor, thus reducing the risk of unwanted induction & other interventions that can increase the risk of maternal/infant mortality. A 2017 Cochrane report even included Doula care as part of its 12 step plan to improve the birthing experience for women in America. And most Black birthing folx report feeling more supported and comfortable with a support person of their own race.
This is why Syreeta’s work is so critical. Currently Syreeta, through her project Unshakeable Motherhood, is running a fundraiser to get Women of Color trained as Doulas here in Pittsburgh. She has organized a video you can watch below explaining why Doula care is so critical to communities & parents, & a fundraising page you can find here, where for the next 24 days Ioby, the fundraising organization she is working with, will match every dollar raised. Their goal is $5000, enough to send roughly 10 women for training in March & support her Unshakable Motherhood project. At this time, where the harm that is inflicted on the Black communities around our country is so obvious to us, I’m asking everyone who can to donate to this amazing cause, so that Black families can have a better chance from the very beginning. Support local Doulas, & support your local community! Please donate and share!
Natalia is the owner/operator of Growing Love Birth Services, Mom to a wild child, & Partner to a magnificent bear, living & loving in Pittsburgh, PA