Black Birthworkers as Ritual Leaders

Efia Nomalanga Dalili (BBPenda Baltimore Birthing Project, retired)

The numbers of Black midwives and birthworkers in the US are increasing. Ironically in many indigenous African communities their numbers are decreasing. Doulas are more respected as healthcare professionals, yet for Black birthing persons this care happens mostly outside of their cultural context. In Baltimore Black birthworkers serve as ritual leaders activating cultural memory, carving a space for Black wellness to occur within their own cultural context. They lead rituals like mama honoring ceremonies, babywearing and postpartum nutrition gatherings more consistent with BIPOC perinatal wellness. While doing so they create community emphasizing kin relationships that can improve birth outcomes.

Part of 01-08 Mambomania, Birthworkers, and Onomastics: Activating Cultural Memory , Thursday, November 02, 8:30 am–10:00 am