By Majella Mark
- A doula in the U.S. can earn an annual salary of up to $87K
- Only 4% of U.S. midwives are Black
There is a high demand for birthing professionals of color due to the recent awareness of healthcare discrimination against Black mothers. Around 22% of Black women experienced discrimination by a doctor in their life, which is higher than any other ethnicity, showcasing the dire need of advocacy and support during labor by Black doulas and midwives. With the over medicalization of childbirth costs in the U.S. on the rise to the tune of more than $3 billion dollars annually, just how important are midwives for Black mothers?
Why This Matters: Right now only 4% of the country’s midwives are Black, but less than 10% of deliveries in the U.S. are led by them. Black women in the United States have the highest mortality rate with 40 of every 100,000 births leading to a mother’s death. States including Alabama, Ohio, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Michigan are five of the worst states for mortality rates and also have some of the highest Black populations.
States with high Black populations, also have some of the smallest ratios of midwives per 1,000 births
Interestingly enough, these states with high Black populations, also have some of the smallest ratios of midwives per 1,000 births. According to the American Association of Birth Centers, a birth supported by a midwife has an intrapartum and neonatal mortality rate of 1.6 births to every 1000 compared to the national rate of 6.1 births. The industry is estimated to increase 31% by 2020 and a birth center start up cost is approximately $25,000.
A quick little history lesson: Midwifing started during slavery in 1847 by Biddy Mason, who gained her freedom in California by 1856 and then made a fortune with the business. She became the matriarch of the richest Black family in Los Angeles during her time.
Situational Awareness: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had both raised concerns for the Black mortality rate issue during their campaigns for the 2020 presidency. Organizations such as the Black Women Birthing Justice, National Black Doula Association and Sista Midwife Productions provide training, communal support and fought for social justice on behalf of Black mothers by providing education, resources and moral support. Expect a push for the expansion of alternative birthing options with a heavy emphasis of Black mothers in the upcoming Biden administration.
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