On June 5, 2013, I was blessed to have the experience of bringing a child into the world. Well, my wife did the majority of the work. I was more of a support.
We were graced with the presence of a healthy baby girl. The journey to this joyous occasion was a process that I will always cherish. My wife and I decided to have an all-natural birth. We wanted to give our child the best experience possible as she joined the world.
Many of our friends and family were skeptical of our decision. People would ask, “What hospital are you guys going to be at?” When we replied we would not be at a hospital, we would get a blank stare.
We chose to have our child at a birthing center. We wanted to have a comfortable, homey, and warm atmosphere as we went through the birth process. We wanted to stay away from experiencing the systematic factory-like feeling of being in a hospital.
One thing we as a community must be aware of is the crisis of disparities we see in the Black community. We must also recognize that there is an urgent need for Black healthcare providers who offer a holistic approach to the reproductive health of Black women and their families.
Many people are not aware of the great benefit of having children naturally. No drugs, just natural remedies, vitamins, good food, affirmations, massages, and light exercise.
Natural birthing benefits both the mother and the child. The child comes into the world less groggy and more alert with lower rates of fetal disease during delivery. The child will not have any medications or narcotics in his or her system and form a better bond with the mother.
Media and society have conditioned us to thinking that women are not able to deliver naturally. Women are constantly shown that normal childbirth is in a hospital, with drugs, and done the way the doctor wants it done. What a lot of women don’t know is that their bodies were made to deliver children naturally without the drugs and new-age technology.
One of the main benefits for the mother is that she feels better after delivery and often heals faster. Since no drugs are used, mothers can get up shortly after labor if they desire and move around, shower, eat, or bond with her family.
I was able to see my wife unlike I have ever seen her before. She continued to have the affirmation of, “My body was made for this.” Many women have a strong feeling of empowerment during labor and a sense of accomplishment afterward. The confidence my wife exhibited was amazing. Her bravery, beauty and perseverance were simply amazing.
One of the most important moments of the birthing process was catching my daughter out of the womb and realizing that my wife had birthed future generations of Black people. Childbirth is probably one of the most beautiful and mystical things one can ever witness. It is an event to cherish and hold sacred. Also, it is not called “labor” for nothing. One is definitely working. However, it is work that builds societies and legacy.
Black women have an extensive history with midwifery and doula practices. The International Center for Traditional Childbearing, Inc. (ICTC) is one organization that educates the masses about the health of Black women.
According to ICTC, “The Grand-midwives taught the apprentice midwife the traditional rituals of womanhood, childbearing and family care. These sacred rituals included prayer, homage and respect for the ancestors, massage, and preparation of food, breastfeeding, postpartum care and much more.” Do we still have these experiences in the Black community? Maybe not as much as we should.
I believe it is beneficial for Black people to get back to our roots in childbirth. This is the way we got here. If it were not for our ancestors who pushed through the pain, we would not be here. This process is safe and gives our children an ability to come into the world in a healthy way.
According to ICTC, “Midwifery has always been an honored and spiritual profession among Africans who continued their rich traditions, even while enslaved. Historically Black midwives have saved the lives of countless mothers and babies throughout the United States. Both free and enslaved Black midwives provided midwifery care not only to their communities, but also to families outside of the Black community.”
I strongly suggest all Black people attempting to have children consider having a natural birth. Often people share stories of all the horrific things that can happen in birth. Many of those stories are few and far between. Like most things, the tragic situations and events get all the hype.
One of the main reasons my wife and I chose to have a natural birth is because it gets back to our ancestral roots. When Black people return to the ancient art of midwifery, we are actively combating oppressive systems. We make the active decision to taking our health into our own hands.
For more information on natural birthing, midwives, and doulas, check out www.ictcmidwives.com.
Brandon Jones M.A. is a mental health practitioner. He welcomes reader responses to [email protected] or follow him on twitter @Univer salJones.