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Black women are twice as likely to lose their babies as white women in Missouri, and the state’s maternal mortality rate is 50% higher than the national average, according to past Missourian reporting. These statistics are not just the norm in Missouri, but in all states.

According to Brittany “Tru” Kellman who founded Jamaa Birth Villiage in St. Louis, “In the 1920s black women were safer during delivery than they are now,” Kellman said. She is referring to a study by Collins and Thossoman from 2000.

Home births were the norm until the early 20th century when federal legislation like the Sheppard Tower and Infancy Protection Act criminalized midwifery. “Prior to the 1920s, midwives were pillars of the community,” Kellman said. “They were known to feed and nourish their prospective clients. They were known to be healers outside of maternal care.”

As Doulas how can we make a difference for black women and their families during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum?

  • We can recognize the bias that exists in the medical community.
  • We can advocate for our clients and their families, and empower them to advocate for themselves.
  • Provide emotional and physical support by someone that they know and connect with.
  • Be there to assist, support and empower women in whatever way she needs to have the birth she wants.

Check out Tru’s non-profit Jamaa Birth Village at https://jamaabirthvillage.org/ and New Beginnings Doula Training for an in depth labor and birth doula training to learn more about how you can help.



Follow Samantha Kitchel:

Doula, Community Manager

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