• Alyssa Ellison

BIRTHING WHILE BLACK



During the current climate in the U.S., we have seen the black experience magnified more than ever on our television screens, front pages of many newspapers, protests in all 50 states and even protests all over the world to fight against and combat one of the many injustices that Black Americans experience every single day, police brutality. As a black woman who grew up in the Los Angeles area, I have had many of the same injustice experiences that have been highlighted over the last week and a half.


Black and Brown people are being heard loud and clear after being ignored in this country for so long. We are demanding to be seen and treated as equals to our white counterparts. But the marching and protests aren't just for fighting against the killing people who look like us. It is also a fight for our black women who go into delivery rooms every day to deliver their babies, only to be treated less than, to not receive all of the professionalism and resources that non people of color receive.


In America, Black women are having severe complications and dying at more than 2 and a half times the rate during and after giving birth than that of white women. The reasons for such high rates can be attributed to institutional racism, being more susceptible to more health complications such as high blood pressure and simply not having access to the same quality care as other women who are not of color. As a birth professional, my goal is to help in reducing unnecessary cesarian sections & interventions which are partly caused by convenience of the doctor and a lack of education about the interventions being suggested and pushed in the delivery room. Historically, when black women weren't even allowed to give birth in hospitals because of the color of their skin, we were skilled at midwifery, being lay women and birth doulas that supported birthing black women in order to make sure they were well taken care of and delivered a healthy baby and making it through alive. We were birthing queens! This day in age, many women rely on modern medicine and the care of the doctors in a hospital to keep us safe during a delivery but at the same time, many black women are losing their lives and their babies lives at an alarming rate.


I don't have to persuade you or tell you the reasons why safe black birth environments are so important, I have already given you the statistics. I also don't have to tell you why we need more women of color working in medicine, in roles such as midwifery, birth and postpartum doulas, lactation consultants and other birth advocates to make sure that black women are receiving proper and up to date care. You know that saying, "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself"....Well this is it. Funding for midwifery programs are so important because it provides scholarships, courses and education to so many more women of color who may not otherwise have those tools available to them. For a single student, the average cost to complete midwifery school is upwards of about $20,000.


I want my contribution in my community to be advocacy for women in delivery rooms and at postpartum appointments with doctors, having complete knowledge of the birth & postpartum process, informing mothers of all the options available to them and providing evidence based information & support during the birth and postpartum period of a woman's birth experience, also including Lactation support.


By providing these options to birthing black mothers, it shows the importance that we recognize that the babies that we carry in our wombs are just as important and just as deserving as the other babies being born at the same hospitals but are not of color and are receiving full care. I hope to become a midwife one day just like so many more women of color. I hope to be able to give back to my community in more roles than one. You can give back by starting with supporting your local birth workers of color as well as donating to midwifery schools that offer scholarships to black women.

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Doula For You 

© 2020 By Alyssa Ellison. Carson, California  

Photo Credits: Photography by Alia, Chelsey Atkins Photography, Savannah, Unsplash 

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