The Topic: Not Without Our Fathers. So often we talk birth in women circles. We celebrate birth within the feminine community and forget that without the fathers our birth experiences would be non existent. June 17th marks the day many will celebrate fathers in this country. With that in mind we came up with our topic for this installment of the Black Birth Blog Carnival.
This post you will be updated with live links by Noon, linking back to the other participants posts.
Twitter Hashtag #BlackBirth
Around the country in less than one week, millions will honor the men in their lives on Father’s Day. Father’s Day in my world for the most part comes and goes like every other Sunday. My lack of enthusiasm is probably due, at least in part, to the fact that my father is… ummm…. well….. let’s just say he would never win the “Father of the Year Award.” LOL
Regardless of my personal connection, or lack thereof, to father’s day, I understand the importance of fathers when it comes to birth. Over the years I have been blessed to witness many births. The absence or the presence of the father is not unique to any one race, creed, or religion. Many women give birth alone or with female support only and there are a multitude of reasons a man may be absent from the birth of his child. Whenever the father is not present I like to know why. Not just for the sake of knowing but rather because I have witnessed the father/birth connection and understand that who the father is and his presence or absence can have a profound affect on the birth process.
While the presence or absence of a father during birth can directly impact the birth experience, little research has been published about fathers and birth. As I prepared to write this post, except for discussions about slavery, I couldn’t find anything specifically about Black Men and their perceived role during birth. (As an aside… I did come across this interview. And while the book is not specifically about #BlackBirth, it does seem to be a good read. If you have any feedback on this book I would love to hear it)
Black Men often get a bad rap when it comes to involvement with pregnancy, birth, families, etc. They are often wrongly depicted as the proverbial absentee father, available only to plant the seed. The reality is Black Birth is filled with stories of black fathers being present, strong, powerful and supportive. Not only are black men present for birth, I know black men who have personally held their hands out to catch their newborn as their women gave birth. Yes Black men are present… catching, loving, sharing, and experiencing birth as intently and as passionately and as importantly as the women they are supporting.
As I do outreach, and speak with Black Men about birth I find that they are VERY interested. They show genuine concern when they learn about the disproportionately high rates of infant and maternal mortality in the black community. They are by nature protectors and healers and they want to help and support their wives, girl friends, sisters, mothers and daughters. They want to know how they can get involved; how they can help. Unfortunately because birth is often considered “women’s work” they are often shut out of the conversation. In order to change our perinatal outcomes however, we MUST include the fathers of our children. The men in our communities must not only be present at the table as we discuss #BlackBirth, they must be actively engaged as a part of the solution.
Many don’t realize, that men, just like women, LOVE to share their birth stories with anyone who will listen. Have you ever listened to a man tell HIS birth story. You should try it sometimes. They are full of life, animated and often hilarious filled with a multitude of emotions. The sparkle in their eye is unmistakable and you know that they too are transformed during birth. I challenge you today, tomorrow, or maybe as a part of your father’s day celebration to speak with a father about HIS birth story.
I don’t have any children and as I approach the ripe young age of 40 I think more and more about what my pregnancies and births will be like. When I visualize my future birth experiences, I can see my home birth, where I am surrounded by more than one sister friend, midwives and doulas… a few of them, all around supporting me. I also I envision my male partner, the father of my baby…. Ever present, strong, loving and supportive. I visualize him rubbing my back, stroking my face, giving me kisses, speaking kindly and reminding me at all times that he is right there with me. Who this man will be, I am not yet sure but I pray when I do have my next birth experience, I will proudly say my birth was wonderful and it was not without the father.
Do you have a story to share about #BlackBirth and fathers? Share your story and link it up to our carnival. I would to hear it! Let’s continue to celebrate Black Birth!
Please take the time to read and comment on the other participants posts.
Shahmet at Adia Publishing: A Father Before Birth
Reggie at WhatrUWorkinon?: They’re All Miracles
Nicole at Musings From The Mind of Sista Midwife: #BlackBirth Not Without Our Fathers
Darcel at The Mahogany Way Birth Cafe: Are Men at Birth Important?
Alexis at The Ivy Expansion: A Fathers Love
Mavhu at F.W. Hargrove: I Birth At Home
Twitter Hashtag #BlackBirth