Black Student Midwife: Kai Shatteen-Jones

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Who are you and why midwifery?
My name is Kai Shatteen-Jones. I am Black, I am Queer and I am a Mother.  I am blessed to be the mother of two teenagers and I was young when I had them. I knew nothing about being pregnant, childbirth, the postpartum period or even being a parent. My lack of education and support during that trans-formative time has driven me to ensure that other parents don’t suffer from the unknown  the way I did. My personal experiences and those of people dear to me, have shaped how I move through this lifetime. As a doula, I am passionate about  serving others as they become parents, but I have learned that serving as a doula isn’t enough. I have a deep calling and desire to spend more time with my clients during our prenatal and postpartum visits, but have come to realize that the things we were discussing were out of scope for a doula.
As I have been working in the community as a doula, I have seen first hand the struggle Black, Brown, Queer and limited income birthing people have with their providers and the hospital system. They don’t feel seen, heard, valued and cared for. As a homebirth midwife, I intend to be an active listener on their journey towards parenthood.  I want to support birthing people to have autonomy over their bodies. It is important to me that birthing people have a provider that can relate to their lived experiences and I believe as a Queer Black Midwife, I will be able to do that.

What structural and institutional barriers have you encountered that has made your student CPM journey difficult?
The institutions are run by and built by white people. The needs of BIPOC are overlooked when creating them. This in itself is difficult because I desire to learn my Ancestral ways, but how can I if the people creating the curriculum are white? Even the required reading lists don’t have any BIPOC authors on it. Another challenge I have is the financial aspect of school. It’s expensive and the school I am in doesn’t accept financial aid. There is only one scholarship for CPM students that I was able to find and for other types of schooling, there are many. Lastly, I am a visual and kinesthetic learner and while apprenticing I will be able to learn in those ways, but I won’t for the didactic portion of schooling. If there were more schools in the country that offered in person classes, that would be beneficial to me. Or even if the schools that aren’t near me offered a relocation stipend, the type of school I attend would match my learning style better. 

How long have you been a student midwife?
I have been a student midwife since April 2018.

Has it been difficult finding a preceptor? If so, why?
It has been very difficult! I desire to learn from a Black Midwife. In the Bay Area, there aren’t any Black Midwife’s that are practicing out of the hospital births, near me that I can study under or they are newly licensed and unable to be a preceptor. There are midwives of color in the Bay Area, but they aren’t taking students at, they have more than one student, or they are newly licensed. I have reached out to a few white midwives that I heard were allies to Black and Brown student midwives and have been able to build relationships with one of them. I am working with her for an observe birth over the next six months, but her practice is slow at this time and I won’t be able fulfill my apprenticeship with her. I am hoping that when I am ready to apprentice full time, there will be Black or POC midwives that are looking for students that I can learn under, but there is no guarantee. This makes me really nervous because there is a timeline for which I should be working with a preceptor and I can only hope and pray that I will make the necessary deadlines. 

How do you feel about the recent NARM changes?
It’s part of the ongoing assault against Black people and other people of color. It’s a reminder of the continued systematic oppression that we have suffered and the fact that white people believe they know what is right. To take away routes of midwifery for certain countries, but not others is a disgrace. I don’t know the full history of NARM, but why are they the people that designate who can become a midwife and who can’t? How do they decide the changes and who gets consulted when changes are made? It’s scary to leave our futures in the hands of white people who makes decisions for us. 

What can people who are reading this do to support you?
I am currently fundraising for school and it would be great if folks could donate or share my fundraiser! I’m thankful that my school allows me to have a specialized payment plan, but without support from my community, it may be impossible. Here’s the link:

Anything else you would like to add?
I appreciate the support that I receive from my BIPOC folks, but now is the time for white allies to step up and financially support BIPOC Student Midwives. If the allies truly believe that Black Lives Matter, they should start showing in it ways that make an actual impact on the Black Birth Disparities.