Shafia Monroe Birthing Change

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Community Midwifery: The Solution

I coined the term “Community Midwife” in 1980 to emulate the history of the 20th Century Black midwife; as Ms. Margaret Charles Smith, co-author of “Listen to Me Good, Life of an Alabama Midwife, and featured in the award winning “Bringin in Da Spirit “documentary, says, “I became a midwife working around nigh you know, up around here, with Ms. Anderson, she taught me about being a midwife, ya know.” Meaning that she worked around her neighborhood, as an assistant midwife to an experienced midwife to learn midwifery. It meant, she worked in a certain radius of her residence. There is a wisdom in that. When you midwife in your community you get to see the babies grow and offer parents long term support and become the trusted resource.

Community Midwives
Community gathering. Shafia Monroe center.

I coined the term, “Community Midwife” to depict a visual description, that describes the midwife, living, working, worshiping, volunteering and shopping in the community that she serves. Essentially as a community midwife, I make a difference because I see the pregnant women beyond the prenatal visit, I see her and her family in daily life activities, where every moment is a teachable and loving moment, because that is the legacy of the 19th century African American midwife; “I teach and sometimes I preach the gospel of African/African American birth and postpartum traditions “

I teach what to put in the food cart, both by example and by teaching nutrition, when I bump into a mom shopping at the same store that I shop at, I comment on her good food choices or I make recommendations for better choices. Always humble and sometimes using humor. I can do that because I am the community midwife and I am known for caring, and I uphold the legacy of the Granny Midwife, who was a respected elder. As a community midwife, my work is beyond catching the baby, it is about teaching mothering and African beauty and passing on our traditions, (Wilkie,2003). When I see her in the parking lot and stop to help her get her baby into the car seat, and I discuss with her how her oldest child is, and when I see her mate at the gas station and ask the partner how is it going, this is how I follow in the footsteps of my midwife ancestors. I am proud and driven to follow in the footsteps of the African American granny-midwives who left a legacy of service, of caring and loving the community that she served, who prayed and thanked the Creator for her midwifery; and she entered every birth in pray, and with intention of service and helping the mom and her family.

I want to continue growing this movement because it strengthens the African American community.

For more information on the History of the African American Midwife see this link.


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