Black mothers and their babies are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience serious complications in birth, including death.
Midwives - especially those who look like the community they serve - can help, but California has a critical shortage of licensed midwives of color.
Every family deserves a midwife that looks like them. A group of midwives and student midwives of color and consumers in California have come together to break through the barriers that we as women of color face when joining the profession.
We are launching our first program - a study course designed specifically to support student midwives of color in being successful on the NARM, the midwifery certification exam.
Midwifery care reduces the impact of racism on black birth
Racism in health care means that black mothers and their babies are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience serious complications, even when income, education, and access to health insurance are taken into account.
According to recent research, improving access to midwives could have powerful positive benefits for African American families.
When families are served by culturally matched midwives, research finds families experience improved quality of patient-provider interactions.
Increasing access to midwifery care through increasing the number of Black midwives in California
Families seeking Black midwives have very limited options.
A recent survey conducted by our Birth Disparities & Equity Team found that aspiring midwives face multiple barriers to entering the profession, including racial and cultural bias in midwifery education, training, apprenticeships, and certification processes.
Support developed by women of color, for women of color
Our Birth Disparities and Equity Team, comprised primarily of women of color, has come together to design projects that meet the cultural and educational needs of aspiring midwives navigating a system full of structural biases and designed primarily for white providers.
Based on our survey of midwives of color and aspiring midwives of color, we are launching a NARM Exam Preparation Program. The program is designed to provide much needed academic and peer support to advance success in the certification process and cultivate thriving black midwifery communities.
Practical support for exam success
The NARM study project will include:
"During my apprenticeship I was asked questions such as; how can you tell if a black baby needs resuscitation or comments like I have never repaired a black vaginal before are the tissues tough like their skin?!?"
"I had a midwife ask me to take her kids to various activities while she attend births (like the HELP). When I would try to explain myself folks always fell into white fragility. So I learned to shut up and do whatever needed to be done and unbind myself from mental slavery."
"The process of studying and figuring things out on your own can be very isolating, which increases overall anxiety and decreases confidence. The exam is poorly worded regardless of what language you learned first. Beyond Not reflecting serving a racially and culturally diverse clientele base the exam assume a specific type of midwifery educational experience that is also not reflective of the diversity of student learning environments."
I would like to support Strong Midwives Strong Families!
Your financial support makes it possible for us to develop a culturally appropriate curriculum, offer scholarships, travel stipends, childcare, and otherwise increase access for student midwives of color.