Tag Archives: ICTC

Memories & Motivations from Trinidad

I am always excited after attending an event with the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC).  Last week I returned home after a 7 night stay in Maraval Trinidad.  While there, I was working, bonding, eating, sleeping, sharing, growing and learning with a group of phenomenal women.   The women who attended are doulas, nurses, midwives, and mothers… sisters, daughters, American and Trinidadian.

Healing Hands

Healing Hands

As I sat to write this blog post, I thought back to February.  I wrote an article titled “Black Motherhood” that was published in the online publication Oya Nsoro. Below are some excerpts from that article.

Often times, when we use the word midwife in the black community it conjures up images of elderly women walking from house to house, dressed in all white catching babies by moonlight and kerosene oil.  For many, the idea of midwifery also brings up images of dirty old women who are uneducated, undertrained and unskilled.  These negative beliefs about midwives were shaped in our communities systematically as the government, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology worked together to rid America of its “midwife problem.”  A war was waged on black so-called granny midwives and they were slowly eliminated from our communities.  This systematic elimination that started with the Sheppard Towner act in 1921 continues today.  The Sheppard Towner Act, created “training programs” for midwives and forced many of them to abandon the historical knowledge and practices that had been passed down for generations.  Integration and the introduction of Medicaid brought poor, rural, and black women out of the homes and into hospitals to birth.  Maternity care become a VERY profitable business… there was then, and continues to be, money to be made regardless of the birth outcomes. 

While midwifery in the black community traditionally was an honored profession, today many hold to the false beliefs that midwifery care is second rate, something for the poor and the underprivileged. Or in some minds, midwifery is for “them” i.e. the rich, the granola crunchy types, the natural hair wearers and the vegans. 

Fortunately, in spite of these false beliefs, the practice of midwifery carries on today and is gaining momentum.   To those of us practicing “modern day midwifery” there is honor and respect in this profession.  We understand the shoulders upon which we stand and we carry on the legacy of the so-called “granny midwife” with passion and reverence. 

Midwives are, and have always been spiritual people.  Most midwives will tell you they were “called” into this business and no other profession is more directly linked with both life and death. They took care of the community. They had to because no one else would. They succeeded because they had no choice.  Today, we “modern day midwives” work with this passion and pray we can do the same.

I came into midwifery knowing that women in my community were NOT being treated the way they should be during labor and birth.  I was moved to become a midwife so that I could be a part the solution.  At that time, I had no knowledge of granny midwives and during my midwifery education; I don’t remember learning much about the legacy of black midwives.  In 2001 I was introduced to Rhonda Haynes the award winning producer of Bringin in Da Spirit, a wonderful documentary that not only celebrates but tells the truth about the legacy of Black midwives.  It was through meeting her that I began my slow and continual journey to learn more.  Through Rhonda, I learned of ICTC and met Shafia Monore, the midwife and visionary behind ICTC, The International Black Midwives and Healers Conference, and The Full Circle Doula Training.  It has been my involvement with ICTC, especially over the past 3 years, that has accelerated my learning curve and given me a bigger passion not just for helping birthing women but also to learn about the legacy of black midwives and healers.

It was with much excitement that I registered to attend the recently held combo doula training in Trinidad with ICTC.  While there, I started down the path to become a Certified Full Circle Doula Trainer.  Have you taken the ICTC FCD training? If not, no matter what your previous birth work training is, I definitely recommend it.  You can take it this July in Chicago :-) This training, is like no other training.  It is an international training that celebrates the legacy of the black midwife and brings to light our full and rich history.  It educates, informs, and inspires.  It allows us to learn, to grow and to bond.  New friendships are forged and new passions are ignited. This is the ICTC way.  Today, as I work to improve birth outcomes in my community, I salute all of the midwives and doulas working to create better births for women. Extra Hugs… Love… and Light to those of you working in the trenches, taking care of black and brown families regardless of ability to pay.  You do not walk alone.  We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Mamatoto Birth Center


Returning Power to Birth ~ The 2012 Black Midwives & Healers Conference

Back in October 2012, I had the pleasure to attend the ICTC 8th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference.  If you were there… WHAT??!! You already know :-)

If you weren’t there… well… as is often the case with my blogging, I had plans to blog about the conference as we went along and blog again once I got home. Welp… that never happend. Ya just get kinda caught up in the moment of things.  Fortunately for me/for us… My Sista Midwife Walidah Muhammad is expanding her skill set beyond the birthing bed to documentary creation. I LOVE it!!! Soooo with that said… take a look at the videos below. There is no way these clips can bring you the full energy of what we shared, did, learned, and felt during this conference. But perhaps they will give you a glimpse and help you understand what a gem the International Center for Traditional Childbearing is for all of us!

We… who believe in freedom cannot rest

Until Racism Ends… We Will Need a Black Midwives Conference

It’s July 2012 and in three months, the membership and supporters of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) will descend upon Miami for our 8th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference.  The last time we had such a conference we were in Long Beach CA in 2010.  During that conference a question came up on the face book page of Mothering Magazine. A reader wanted to know why black midwives and doulas have their own conference??!! Weren’t we all in the same business and shouldn’t we all be working together she wanted to know.

I was quite annoyed with her question/comment and wrote this blog post about it…

Today as I re-visited that blog post and the notion of US having OUR own conference I re-affirm that a conference for, by and about black women, black babies, and black birth workers remains a necessity and Until racism ends… we will need a Black Midwives Conference.

The history of black women giving birth in this country is filled with stories involving physical and emotional pain.  For centuries birth for black women in this country was often unsupported, forced, lonely and void of compassion. Even more disturbing is the fact that black women today continue to give birth within an obstetrical system that disrespects, judges, and demeans them.

Research has shown that racism both, inside and outside of the medical establishment has a clear negative affect on the birth outcomes of black families.  This is a reality made plain and easy to see in the PBS Documentary:  Unnatural Causes.  Today, while national data shows a decline in overall infant and maternal mortality rates, the black white disparity gap not only persists; it continues to widen.  For black women, who are often maneuvering a system filled with racism, assumptions and in some cases sheer contempt, quality compassionate care can be difficult if not impossible to find.  The current system is not set up to create better birth outcomes in black communities.

While the climate for black women giving birth is bad, those of us who seek to make changes in that system are fighting battles of our own.  As we try to build bridges to make maternity care safe for all women we are up against a racist machine that attempts to block us from caring for our sisters that we are committed to caring for.  As women’s health care practitioners, as doulas, as midwifes, and lactation consultants, as outreach workers, mentors, and birth advocates, we face a racism that is often discussed quietly if ever at all.  But if you ask just about any black midwife, she will be able to share with you stories of racism that came up during her training or continue to come up in her professional practice. From the “professional” organizations, to the educational institutions, whether it’s the CPMs or the CNMs, racism exists on all levels.  These realities were recently highlighted during a series of blogs, notices, emails and public discussions that took place when the leadership of the MANA Midwives of Color Committee resigned from their leadership positions. Blody Show wrote a great post  about it:  Institutioal Racism White Privledge and MANA.

When racism is brought up in a conversation people get nervous.  Many want to pretend it doesn’t exist yet the actions and non-actions of many continue to prove that it does and continues to be a serious problem.  Until racism ends, we will need a black midwives conference.  This reality was highlighted by my sista friend Darcel of the Mahogany Way Birth Café when she asked “When Will You Care?.”  Sista Denene Millner wrote a telling piece where she gave us some direct examples of the racist treatment she received Birthing While Black in a New York hospital.  Yes, racism is alive and well and its killing Black women and babies.  Still don’t believe it. Check out the 2010 and 2011 reports from the Amnesty Internationals Deadly Delivery Series. The list goes on but I will stop here as I affirm AGAIN… Until Racis Ends… We will need a Black Midwives Conference AND I am happy to say we are having one and I challenge you… if you care about making a real difference in maternity outcomes… if you care about REALLY helping eliminate perinatal disparities YOU should make plans to be there.  YOU should make plans to join us in Miami. Shafia Monroe, President and CEO of ICTC said it perfectly:

This is an important year for Black midwives to be in solidarity worldwide, to end systemic racism in the midwifery profession that creates barriers for Black women to serve their community in order to end maternal and infant mortality that is disgracefully too high, and yet is preventable. This is a health inequity in the public health lens and it is a human rights issue, because it burdens the quality of life for Black families. ICTC needs your presence Oct. 19-21, 2012 at the 8th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference to create a social and birth justice agenda. Along with learning and healing on the beach, there are several social justice plenaries for us to address this issue. We want everyone to attend. This is a call to action to ensure that our stories are told, honored and included in midwifery history, so that our daughters and sons will see our faces and our historical contributions to this beautiful profession of midwifery. ICTC wants to see all midwifery institutions make a measurable effort to increase the numbers of Black midwives and midwives of color worldwide and particularly in the USA. We can return power to birth when we use our power to end the discriminatory practices that we know exist within the midwifery institutions.

So with that being said… I challenge you to join me…  All of you… Black, White, Blue, Yellow, Brown, Purple, Green…. Join me in Miami… October 19-21 for the 8th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference:  Returning Power to Birth – Reclaiming Our Culture.  Early bird registration ends this month. REGISTER NOW  Don’t delay.  Our mothers, our sisters, our friends, our babies, our children… they are depending on us.  I’m going to Miami in October. Who’s commin with??

Can’t make it to Miami, join the cause through your donation.  Purchase an ad to support the work of ICTC here. Become a paid member. Send a donation. We need all hands on deck.   Our work continues.    #FistUp

Who’s coming with?? ~ Black Midwives and Healers Conference

I’m going…. who’s coming with??!!!

Early bird registration ends July 31. Click the picture below for more info.  I look forward to meeting YOU in MIA!!  Its gonna be a GREAT time.  Don’t Miss it!

Be a Presenter: 2012 ICTC Black Midwives & Healers Conference

“The 8th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference (BMHC) will take place October 19-21, 2012 at the Newport Beachside Resort in Miami Beach, Florida. For the eighth time, the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) will convene midwives, doulas, birth workers and healers from around the globe to explore cultural traditions and best practices in the care of pregnant, birthing and postpartum mothers.”

  EYE!!!   CAN’T!!!    WAIT!!!

Are you familiar with ICTC?  Click the link and find out more. If you follow me on twitter you may know that since Thursday I have been playing hostess and participating in the New Orleans ICTC Full Circle Doula Training. It has been a wonderful experience and it has gotten me all excited about going to Miami.  In addition to the doula training, I am also working on my submission/proposal to be a speaker at the 2012 conference and that has me excited as well.

In 2010 I had the pleasure of not only attending, but actually being a presenter during the 7th BMHC, in Long Beach California.  Now THAT was a great experience. Here are a few nuggets from the 2010 conference.

 Have YOU ever wanted to be a presenter at a conference? Are you thinking of attending the ICTC BMHC in October? Do you have some information you want to share with others that you know will help women and babies?  If you answered yes to any of those questions… you should answer the Call for Papers to speak at the 2012 Conference.  Time is of the essence. Submissions are due June 1st.  Take a look at the Call for Proposals and be a speaker at the 8th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference: Returning Power to Birth:  Reclaiming Our Culture. 

Don’t want to be a presenter. Just join in the fun, culture, learning and experience ICTC up close and personal.  I look forward to seeing you in Miami!!

In Birth and Love
Nicole (Follow me on Twitter @SistaMidwife)