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New Series Documents the Lifesaving Birth Wisdom and Traditions of Caribbean Midwives and Matriarchs

by Yael B. Yisrael, Owner of Flatbush Doulas

As the daughter of a retired Labor & Delivery nurse, childbirth has always been a part of my life. I remember listening to my mother’s stories of the joys, pains, and politics of giving birth in New York City. Her work as an RN in Spanish Harlem, was an intriguing topic of many family conversations. The real jewel of growing up as the child of an L&D nurse, was that my mother’s view of childbirth wasn’t limited to what she saw at work each day.

A culture of normalcy surrounded birth in the island on which she was born.

This cultural outlook tempered the medical side of her practice, with the strong belief that: 1) Women are capable, and 2) What they need most during labor and birth is care, support, respect, and more care.

“Shiphrah & Puah Stories” is a series that celebrates the contributions of Caribbean midwives and matriarchs, while documenting the nutrition, rituals, and pampering practices that have kept Black women safe during pregnancy, childbirth, and during the postpartum period.

At a time when maternal and infant mortality rates among Black women and babies in America are unconscionably high, “Shiphrah & Puah Stories” is a call for us to save ourselves.

The goal of this series is to highlight the continuum of African birthing wisdom preserved from ancient times until now, in the tradition of the Hebrew midwives who saved the nation of Yisrael through their wisdom and commitment.

The first episode, featuring part one of my interview with elder midwife Emelda Cox, will air tonight Thursday February 21, 2019 at 9:00 PM EST. Please feel free to tune in by clicking this link.

It will take you to YouTube, where you can subscribe to the Flatbush Doulas channel and set a notification before airtime. You can also request more information on this series, as well as the products & services provided by Flatbuish Doulas, by contacting us directly.

Like Flatbush Doulas on FaceBook, follow us on Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, for more exclusive content!!

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Does Cardi B Have to Choose Between Her Career & Her Baby?

This morning on Hot 97, Ebro in the Morning, Cardi B got vulnerable about her choice to have a baby while she is at the peak of her career in the music industry.

Are you a woman who has felt judged by others because you chose to start or expand your family while you were at the height of your career success?

Listen to Yael B. Yisrael, owner of Flatbush Doulas, as she discusses the thoughts that were shared in the interview. Please leave your comments below, so we can open up this important discussion.

What is Stopping Black Women From Resting?

Throughout history, the Black woman has been the carrier and sustainer of life for those in her immediate family, and community.

The advent of chattel slavery in America interrupted that history, and instituted a new brutal reality, in which enslaved African women were suddenly also the sustainers of their enemies lives and livelihoods.

Listen to Yael B. Yisrael, Owner of Flatbush Doulas, as she speaks to Black women about the importance of rest, and the freedom in declaring oneself worthy of rest.

 

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When Dr. Andrea Little Mason Speaks, You Should Listen!

This blog has been living in my body & soul since October 2017. It was then, shortly after my 43rd birthday, that I traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to attend the ProDoula Annual Conference, dubbed “Speak Your Truth”. Despite my reservations about going to Kansas City after the NAACP put out a travel warning for that area, I knew that I had to be there to hear my sister speak. We had never met in person, but our hours of conversation via telephone and FaceBook had forged a kinship bond, that pulled me to show up for what I knew to be a historical event.

I was not disappointed. In fact, that night I and nine other Black women were divinely appointed by “Dr. Doula”, as she is called. Not only did she summon us to the stage and cast words of affirmation and insight upon us, she did it in a room that was overwhelmingly filled with White women. Women who in every other arena would have been the center of attention, watched as Dr. Doula spoke life into us, and made us speak it into ourselves. I stood there crying, profoundly aware that we were being initiated. Dr. Little Mason wasn’t teaching me anything about myself, or giving me any traditions that I wasn’t already a part of. She was simply letting me know that she already knew who I was, that The Most High had sent her “on assignment”, and giving me the charge to be more of myself from that point forward.

This was no ordinary keynote speech. Dr. Doula embodied the role of African griot and historian, as she told of her experience as a woman of highly melanated skin in the circles of birthworkers, which are predominately populated by White women. She was “singing my life with her song” as she illustrated the microaggressions and inherent bias that Black women in America face at the hands of our “well-intentioned” White counterparts. But more than that, she put on a clinic on what it is to truly doula someone. Those White women in the room, who on any other night would have been able to jump in and save the day with their White savior complexes, were in no position to do so. At that moment all they could do was truly “hold space” for those of us who were being restored and acknowledged, as well as our ancestors who literally birthed this entire nation, or fed it at their breasts.

By the time that her presentation was over, I was forever changed. Her presentation was so interactive, and I was so clear of my mission, that for a moment everything made sense. Dr. Doula was illustrating how Black women’s contributions had been erased from the history of childbirth in America. She collected tiny Post-Its on which we all had written the contributions of Black women to childbirth in America. And at one point she started burning them. That was just too much for me to take, in my stirring moment of self-actualization. I screamed out, “No! Don’t do that!” Yet, she continued. I realized that the burning and destroying of our history could only be stopped by us.

I jumped onto the stage and blew out the flame, sending embers flying. Thankfully Dr. Doula is as quick with her reflexes as she is with her wit! She quickly patted them away, preventing any accidents, and stared at me with the stare that African women have stared from time immemorial, to get folks back in line with the quickness! I did no such thing. She had given me a charge and I was going to keep it. I proceeded to snatch the papers away and start reading them out loud, one by one. Soon, others joined me and read the contributions for everyone present to hear.

Today, ProDoula released a video documenting this phenomenal event. I invite you to listen to it, and be forever changed as I was. Remember, as in the Sankofa symbol from the Akan people of Ghana, the bird turning its neck around. . .it is not taboo to go back for what you have lost!

Bail Money & Black Maternal Mortality

What does bail money have to do with the black maternal mortality rate in the U.S.?

Check out Yael B. Yisrael, the owner of Flatbush Doulas, as she talks about these topics & more in this YouTube video

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Please feel free to continue the conversation by commenting on this page and on the video YouTube. We want to hear from you!

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