Meet the Black Doula Who Is Saving Lives and Bringing Joy to Birth
For more than 20 years now, Shafia M. Monroe, founder of SMC Full Circle Doula Birth Companion Training, has been training and certifying doulas to help improve birth outcomes, teach Black birth tradition, and bring more joy to the birthing experience.
Giving birth should be a beautiful time. But according to a report by the CDC, in 2021 the national Black maternal mortality rate increased to 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020. Even worse, there has been an increase of preterm-related infant mortality rates for Black babies: It’s now three times higher than the white infant mortality rate.
Monroe comments, “Black pregnant and postpartum women deserve the best; they should be celebrated, protected, and honored for bringing new life into the world. Historically, when a Black woman was pregnant it was a time of joy, and her community surrounded her with love and support.”
Black women need doulas because it shortens labor, reduces cesarean sections, decreases medical interventions, lessens the need for regional anesthesia, increases breastfeeding rates, reduces premature births, and parents feel more satisfied with the birth experience. All these outcomes positively impact the birth of a child.
And becoming a doula is a rite of passage to community healing. Learning how to care for pregnant women, understanding the physiology of pregnancy and birth as well as the legacy African American midwifery, reducing Black infant mortality and maternal morbidity, teaching nutrition and self-care can only benefit Black mothers-to-be.
To grow the doula workforce, Monroe will hold online and in-person trainings every other month throughout 2023.
“My goal is to increase the number of Black doulas, who can educate the community on how to improve infant and maternal health, bring joy to Black birth, and be pillars in their communities,” she says.
This news first appeared on blacknewscom.