Guest Blog: Black mamas deserve support before, during and after pregnancy

By Carmen Antonetty

Being a doula*, or birth companion, I have interesting conversations with strangers. About the story of their own children being born, the best techniques to comfort a person in labor, if I have medical training, why I became a doula.

But my conversations with young parents sound like this one with Anaya, a client of Southern Birth Justice Network (SBJN): “I didn’t have any support in my pregnancy from my family except my grandma. Having a doula to have my back and stand up for me was really important, someone who can coach and give you peace of mind.”

“My midwife and doula made a huge difference. Doulas should be offered when you sign up for Medicaid. A doula can relate to you and speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself. Image Description: Oil painting by Jamilla Okubo depicts a young Black mama surrounded by bright yellow sunflowers. Rays of light radiate from her head.

“My midwife and doula made a huge difference. Doulas should be offered when you sign up for Medicaid. A doula can relate to you and speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself.

That is precisely why Southern Birth Justice Network wants to ensure all young people can access a doula, or birth companion. Because every person deserves comfort, care and support when they birth their children.

Will you make a commitment to supporting doula access for young Black mamas?

Doulas provide physical and emotional support—and result in healthier mamas and babies. At SBJN, we believe that if we bring our babies into the world with justice, without anyone telling us what or how to do it, then it nurtures our innate power as mamas and parents to create a free world for our children to play, learn and grow. And, not surprisingly, mamas and babies are healthier and experience less complications when they are supported by a doula.

This Mamas Day, one simple thing we can do for birth justice is make sure all young parents can access a supportive doula during childbirth. Click here to take action today to support access to doula services for young Black mamas.

In Florida, and across the South, young parents give birth against great odds. They are told having a child will ruin their future, end their education, and forever change their lives. But we center our work in birth justice, and we understand that many pregnant people—particularly young Black mamas—have been policed and shamed for our choices to have children.

Birth justice works to change that. Will you become part of this change?

Carmen Antonetty is a doula and a mermber of the Miami-based Southern Birth Justice Network. For more information on their work, visit https://southernbirthjustice.org/


* Doulas are non-medical professionals trained to give physical and emotional support in childbirth. Doulas offer constant, uninterrupted attention and encouragement to the birthing person. They are skilled in comfort and relaxation techniques for labor (like position changes, breathing exercises, massage) and experienced in giving non-judgmental emotional support.

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