Shafia Monroe Birthing Change

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About Shafia Monroe

Women Making History Mural
“Women Making History in Portland,” mural at N Interstate and N Harding Ave. Shafia Monroe, top right holding infant.
Shafia Monroe

Monroe positioned ICTC as an advocate for disseminating culturally competent midwifery education, achieving recognition for Certified Professional Midwives (CPM’s), and directing funds to improve maternal health and newborn care.

Under her leadership, ICTC spread across the nation, increasing the number of midwives of color, giving midwives of color a seat at the decision-making table, promoting the profession, as well as researching and teaching the contributions of African-descent midwives in world history.

In 2002, Monroe organized the first US-based International Black Midwives and Healers Conference (IBMHC). The conference brought midwives together from around the world for improving maternity care, continuing education, and camaraderie. In 2010, Erykah Badu, a four-time GRAMMY™ Award winner, singer/songwriter, and holistic healer, was the keynote speaker for the conference. In 2011, Ms. Badu accepted Monroe’s invitation to be the ICTC National Spokesperson.

Shafia Monroe with students from the SMC Full Circle Doula Training
SMC Full Circle Doula Birth Companion Training class

Monroe became president of Shafia Monroe Consulting/Birthing CHANGE in 2013, to aid healthcare professionals and doulas in achieving cultural competency, increasing clients, and improving perinatal outcomes. In the same year, she opened Doula Ready LLC to prevent premature births by reducing perinatal stress for professional women.

Monroe loves teaching and is a lifelong learner. She holds a BA in sociology, a Master of Public Health, and an Independent Primary Midwife (IPM) certification from the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance (MMA). She is a member of multiple coalitions to improve maternity care, through continuing education and training.

Her work has made a significant impact in improving infant and maternal health through leadership development. As an influencer, her model for improving maternity care is being replicated both here and abroad and is featured in multiple publications. Monroe has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Midwives Alliance of North America and the Dr. Hildrus A. Poindexter of the Black Caucus of Health Workers of the American Public Health Association.

Shafia Monroe and Tina Kotek
Tina Kotek, Oregon Governor on right, partnered with the community to help champion House Bill 3311

Shafia Monroe’s Story

Shafia Monroe holding a newborn baby
Shafia Monroe holds an infant during the postpartum portion of a Full Circle Doula training.

Monroe is the fifth child of seven children. Her father was a foot-washing Baptist from rural Alabama, and her mother was a Bostonian Catholic. She is blessed to have experienced life in the inner city of Boston and in rural Alabama. She enjoyed ice-skating in Boston and riding horses bareback and barefoot in the Alabama countryside. Monroe’s parents were activists – she grew up watching her mother advocate for quality public education, voter registration, and fair housing. Monroe helped her father create community gardens in vacant lots in Boston and care for the land in Alabama.

Monroe’s parents taught her the importance of standing for justice, so when Monroe learned the Black infant mortality rate was two and a half times higher than the white infant mortality rate, she was appalled. She knew she had to do something to reduce the disproportionate rate of Black babies dying before their first birthday. At age 17, Monroe began working to improve perinatal outcomes by training as a homebirth midwife and educating members of the Black community on having home births to improve their birth outcomes. She also opened a midwifery school to increase the number of community midwives. Monroe attributes her success to her spiritual practices, her parents, her commitment to reproductive justice, and her love of midwifery and people.

Monroe spends her free time with her husband, seven children, and ten grandchildren. She enjoys cooking for family and friends, walking, dancing, gardening, writing, fishing, and horseback riding. Monroe lives in Portland, Oregon.

  • Shafia Monroe with Gera
  • Shafia Monroe with Ina Mae in 1982
  • Grammy Award Winning Artist with Shafia Monroe
  • Musa with Shafia Monroe
  • Shafia Monroe as Zulu midwife
  • Shafia Monroe training doulas in South America
  • Shafia Monroe at Freedom Fighter Banner
  • Shafia Monroe and Mikal
  • Shafia Monroe with author of Red, Black and White
  • Shafia Monroe and Senator Merkley
  • Ayanna and Shafia Monroe at Meharry Medical College
  • Shafia Monroe and Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders