Birth Activism is Taking a Turn; It’s time for Social Accountability!

This post is not about your career.  It is not about your professional development as a birth support provider, or how you can better serve birthing individuals and their families.

It’s about something happening in America right now.

Birth activists like us have worked hard for decades to guarantee women’s right to choose in childbirth:

Silence is not neutral and it is not an option

  • The freedom to choose one’s preferred place for their birth.
  • The freedom to choose one’s support group for their birth.
  • The freedom to create one’s birth vision and receive maternal care that acknowledges the vision as equally important as the caregiver’s clinical knowledge.
  • The freedom to give birth and have intact perineum.
  • The freedom to autonomy in L&D by rejecting medical advice that does not align with one’s beliefs and values.

It is time to humbly admit that this birth activism is privileged and not enough.

For the past few years, American birth workers have been developing a growing awareness of the situation for black women giving birth in America. I personally attended a convention in Oakland, dedicated to the systematic racism in maternal care. During the convention, I watched the movie Tatia’s Story: Life to Death in 10 Hours for the first time. I share it with you below.

There are countless ways in which systematic racism is ingrained into American society; one of those ways is law enforcement and police brutality that is gaining awareness due to the current protests. Another way is the systematic racism present in maternal care. I have known for a while now that health outcomes are highly impacted by it, leading to 3-4 times higher death rates for Black mothers and babies.

I had the privilege of learning about it and not experiencing it myself.
And I was silent.

But, friend, “the times they are changin…’”
Silence is a stance. It’s a privileged stance.
Silence is not neutral and it is not an option.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to go about this the “right” way.
The decision that I can’t leave this battle for others is new for me.
Nevertheless, I’m committed to not being silent anymore.



Neri Life-Choma

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