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More life, Right? Certifying as a birth & postpartum Doula while Black

Jordyn Gibson

In late 2017 I stumbled upon a podcast called Black Girl in Om. The very first episode I watched was with guest Latham Thomas, a doula, author, and speaker. I purchased her book titled Own Your Glow; it changed my life. She spoke about all kinds of rituals, and strategies for self-care that resonated so deeply with me. I was converted. I was officially a self-care soldier. I preached the gospel to those around me, encouraging them to read the good book, to join the army of Black Women's Wellness by taking the best care of themselves that they could.

Audre Lorde once said: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” Well, I was not satisfied with my warfare stopping at the end of that book and manicure, so I chose to go deeper. Another episode on the podcast led me to Danielle Lyles Barton, who recommended a book titled Womb Awakening. While some details about the writer may not be flattering, I was indeed awakened, and hungry for more knowledge. It took me four months to complete that book, and when I did, I determined that I too, would become certified as a doula.

Shocking studies have been coming out, showing how dangerous it is to be a Black mother trying to give life. Regardless of socioeconomic status, these studies were disgusting, terrifying, and infuriating. The infant and maternal mortality rates are indeed warlike, with Black women being twelve times more likely to die in childbirth than their white women. The only healthy alchemy I could perform with those emotions was to conduct furious research. So I continued my studies. I decided I would dive into the realm of womb work seriously and intentionally to participate in the resistance to this injustice. This would be my contribution to the war effort, the war on Black lives, and bodies that have started from the womb in these great nations.

When you type James Marion Sims and fistula into google, you will see things you wish you didn’t. The incredibly racist origins of the medical system will leave you stunned, although ultimately unsurprised. As I read through books like Medical Apartheid, I found myself in a state of shock; Learning about how Black women's bodies were used as live cadavers filled me with so much rage, grief, and disgust. It's like I could hear the screaming from women before me, wounded and vengeful spirits in my psyche. I froze, I couldn't get through it. So I put my studies on pause, simply too overwhelmed to continue.

What started as a pacifier for racial and childbirth based anxiety, and a healthy channel for my rage turned into an incredibly weighty and terrifying reality of the devastating implications of race at the intersection of gender in North America. I had become even more terrified of the already intimidating experience of childbirth and became fearful of the lived reality of my sisters and aunties across this continent.

When I began the journey toward certifying as a birth and postpartum doula in 2018, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. A year and a half in and I am deeper, darker, more rage and hope-filled than ever before. What's left of my six months of training will be dedicated to sourcing people and professionals with decades more experience than me, to ensure that I take all that energy and flip it into something that promotes more life in our culture instead of continued death.This nation's history is bearing even more rotten fruit as we watch this surge of sickness take so many Black lives. While Canada is still too frightened and lazy to look at these numbers, they have done studies down south, and it's been shocking, though unsurprising.

If it's one thing that history has proven, it's that nobody is coming to save us; only we will save ourselves. That means that if we're in a world where Black mothers are dying twelve times more than the mothers, there are some things we need. In the words of Queen Bey: Its time to Get Information.

It is my wish that through this training, I can become more equipped to serve my community through the fundamental experience of giving life to the world because it really shouldn't be so hard. With this training, I intend to apply these same principles across the spectrum of life. Principles of eating well, drinking lots of water, breathing deep, asking the right questions, connecting to our roots; the essentials.

"My goal is that Black Women feel more supported by their community"

Every day we're creating, and every day we're birthing new realities into existence, whether we're conscious of it or not. My goal is that Black women feel more supported by their community, whether they are birthing a baby, starting a business, or obtaining their bachelor's degree. Studies continue to show that regardless of what we do, we have to do it with fewer resources and more stress. Applying the principles of best-case birth practices, in an effort to survive systems literally built on our destruction, promotes at the very least more survival, and at best, more life.

Edited by Clanny Mugabe

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