Shafia Monroe Birthing Change

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History of the African American Midwife

Preserving the Legacy

The African American midwife had a vital role in advancing maternal and infant health in the United States, using traditional and public health practices.

By understanding the legacy of the African American midwife, we can see the relationship between cultural competency and diversity in the midwifery profession to improve birth outcomes for women of color. Wilkie (2003) writes, “In addition to their medical expertise, Black midwives were bearers of cultural and communal standards.” Collins (1994) termed the “work done on behalf of one’s own biological children or the community as ‘mother work.’” The African American midwife kept midwifery viable, as most of the country adopted the medical model of birth.

One of the darkest moments in US history was the systematic eradication of the African American midwife from her community, resulting in a legacy of birth injustices.

Shafia M. Monroe, DEM, CDT, MPH

Shafia Monroe

Shafia Monroe’s Presentation

  • Investigates the work of the African American midwife in improving birth outcomes
  • Teaches the history and perspectives of the evolving Black midwife and the “Soul Sistah midwives”
  • Helps participants list the contributions of the African American midwife in improving the maternal and child health crises
  • Explores the role of Black midwives in rural and urban communities and their evolution shaped by human agencies and changing social norms
  • Analyzes the effect of racism on the traditional customs of the African American Midwives

In this program, Shafia shares her journey to becoming a renowned midwife of the 21st Centu

Regulating Birth in Oregon

Keynote Lecture Delivered at the Oregon Historical Society

Regulating Birth in Oregon symposium was presented by the Oregon Historical Quarterly on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon. The Oregon Historical Quarterly, in collaboration with Dr. Christin Hancock of the University of Portland, presented a symposium to promote scholarship on the broad subject of regulating birth, including from legal, social, political, religious, and cultural perspectives. A special issue of the Quarterly was drawn from the scholarship presented. Monroe was invited to Keynote as a specialist in the field of the regulation of the African American midwife in the South.