Black Student MIdwife

Black Student Midwife: Chasity Millen

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Who are you and why midwifery?

My name is Chasity Millen and I am a 2nd year student midwife. I felt called to be a midwife to be a gatekeeper and honor the return of our Ancestors. I started as a birthworker in 2011 amd felt called to give support to WOC as a reprieve from the injustices we face everyday. I wanted to assist them in making informed and empowered choices when it came to birth and their health.

What structural and institutional barriers have you encountered that has made your student CPM journey difficult?

It has been difficult to function fully as a student midwife oncall, attend school, and also afford to handle it all. The fees associated with the school I attend are steep and traveling onsite is something I dread because I do not know where the funds will come from. Also the lack of diversity in the curriculum is just now being addressed.

How long have you been a student midwife?

2 years

Has it been difficult finding a preceptor? If so, why?

It was at first. I worked with a midwife in Michigan that did not know how to handle the reaction of her clients that were uncomfortable having a WOC at their birth. I struggled to find my voice while I worked with her. I moved a year ago and found the perfect placement with a WOC midwife in Atlanta.

How do you feel about the recent NARM changes?

They are discouraging. I wish they would continue to honor true apprenticeships and honor the traditional midwife. 

What can people who are reading this do to support you?

I do have my own business of natural products that I make to help maintain my household while I attend school and births. I do not get paid for births and I can not work a job with set hours while being on call so all sales are appreciated (www.loveandlightheal.com) IG: @seethedivineinu

Black Student Midwife: Sumayyah Franklin

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Who are you and why midwifery?
My Name is Sumayyah Franklin and I am a midwife. I did not choose to be a midwife, it chose me. From a young age life has prepared me to serve in this capacity. I come from a lineage of healers and I firmly believe that this is something one is called to do, not taught or chooses. 

What structural and institutional barriers have you encountered that has made your student CPM journey difficult?

It took me a while to enroll in to an institutionalized school. I intentionally unschooled and home schooled in a traditional apprenticeship for the first couple of years. The school i eventually chose to attend did not take financial aid nor payment plans. Therefore i needed to have the full payment in one lump sum which was a challenge for me. I eventually received a private loan from a midwifery organization that then a random white midwife paid off for me. Besides that my path has been smooth and easy. 

How long have you been a student midwife?

When are we ever not a student of midwifery? However, i am entering my 6th year. 


Has it been difficult finding a preceptor? If so, why?

It took me about 6 months to manifest my preceptor. After asking all the midwives i knew and being told they did not have capacity at that moment. I decided to reach out to midwives i did not have a personal relationship with. Before dong so i wrote out all the things i would love in a preceptor. I then met my current preceptor and dear friend 1 month later. It was truly love at first sight!


How do you feel about the recent NARM changes?
I feel like it is dangerous and oppressive to not include us at the table where these decisions are being made. Coincidentally, our well being will not be considered at best and be detrimental at worst. 

What can people who are reading this do to support you?

People can support my fellow student midwives not only get into school but also keep them afloat as they study. 

Anything else you would like to add?

 

Black Student Midwife: Barbara Verneus

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I am the founder of Tiny & Brave Holistic Services (instagram: @tinyandbrave); Doula; a blogger; maternal life coach, while being a single mother of one in Austin, TX. I have been a trained Birth Companion (doula) since 2004. In 2006, I went overseas through the African Birth Collective to Senegal, West Africa assisting midwives in labor and delivery. In 2008, I obtained a Graduate certificate from Boston University in Maternal and Infant Care in Public Health. Then I received my Master’s in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family in 2016. I have written for or featured on Mater Mea @matermea; Mothering Naturally, Black Women Birthing Justice @birthingjustice; MadameNoire@madamenoire and#NoPrivateParts @bstereo@everydaybirth Magazine and@birdsongbrooklyn blog. I am a strong advocate in being an instrument of healing to women, mothers and mothers-to-be who have experienced trauma; while inspiring more Black and Brown women to enter the birth work field. I also advocate/activist on the issue of the infant and maternal disparities happening within Black communities. Why midwifery? Because I want to be part of protecting the Black family and midwifery along with counseling is definitely a way in doing so.

How long have you been a student midwife?

I officially began being a student midwife in Feb of 2017. I am choosing to do the PEP Process towards becoming a certified professional midwife due to financial barriers that forces me to pay a lot of my journey on my own.

How do you feel about the recent NARM changes?

It is extremely discouraging because once I think there is an opportunity I can do to achieve my goals, a barrier is presented. I really don't think those who are making the laws and regulations are thinking outside of their own cultural norm which is white cultural norms.

How do you feel about the recent NARM changes?

It is extremely discouraging because once I think there is an opportunity I can do to achieve my goals, a barrier is presented. I really don't think those who are making the laws and regulations are thinking outside of their own cultural norm which is majority white cultural norms.

What can people who are reading this do to support you?

If you would like to support me you can do so by purchasing a shirt towards my education. https://www.bonfire.com/dashboard/details/dope-moms-need-dope-moms-1/. Please follow me on instagram @tinyandbrave and you can also repost/share about my shirts and the link provided https://www.bonfire.com/dashboard/details/dope-moms-need-dope-moms-1/. If you would like to help out in a greater way than purchasing a shirt; but in the form of purchasing some of my midwifery books/materials, helping to pay for tuition, room and board, etc., you can contact me directly at tinyandbravedoula@gmail.com for more info. 

Anything else you would like to add?

And behalf, of my sisters who are pursuing this divine calling; those who wondering how they can help us - I charge you if you can (those with the financial ability), to commit to at least one student midwife to whom you can donate to every month towards their journey; if you truly believe having more Black and Brown midwives is extremely important and is a matter of life and death. And those that can't be a preceptor, at least be a mentor to  students who may need guidance in the bureaucracy of becoming a midwife. There's so many ways one can help AND ALL IT TAKES IS BEING WILLING AND DOING. 

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: https://www.gofundme.com/help-kai-become-a-midwife

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.
 

Black Student Midwives Speak Series

DoulaChronicles was created so that a platform to share education related to birth with the main audience being Black and Brown folks existed. I created what I needed to see when I entered this birth worker journey. Disclaimer, i'm not a writer so bare with me. But I’ve been wanting to voice some issues I’ve been witnessing since transitioning from a Doula to a Student Midwife. Every week (sometimes daily) I am reading a new article online about how unsafe it is for black women to birth in this country. I am tired, so tired of people writing about us dying in childbirth without to a solution. Places with healthier outcomes utilize Midwives so why aren’t we? Why are there less than 2% of black Midwives when prior to birthing in Hospitals enslaved Africans delivered both white and Black babies? Why can’t our community access us anymore? In my eyes, these statistics are intentional.

I interviewed several Black student Midwives about the complexities and barriers that are in place today that keep us from serving our communities like national midwifery organizations and schools that further perpetuate the white supremacy and anti-black policies that eradicated our Granny Midwives. We’re in schools without Black and Brown Midwives preceptors. Our curriculums don’t include practices and traditions on how we can serve our community. Our counterpart/white “sister” students refuse to do the work in allyship and solidarity. And collectives that control how we learn, where we learn and how we get licensure are constantly making it more difficult for women of color to become Midwives without consulting us. We’re dying in massive numbers that should be noted as a national crisis. Again, in my eyes this is all intentional.

Please check out interviews from Black student midwives following this post. Search "Black Student Midwife"