February 27, 2024

Black History Month: Recognizing Black Midwives

Throughout history, Black midwives have made substantial contributions to midwifery. In some communities, such as Africville in Nova Scotia, they were likely the only available birthing care for many. Thank you to Black midwives of the past, present and future for their contributions!

PAST: To learn more about the history of Black Midwifery in Canada, you can explore the Colour of Birth Gallery.

PRESENT: Thanks to this article by the Association of Ontario Midwives, you can read about incredible Black midwives working in Ontario: https://www.ontariomidwives.ca/highlighting-contributions-black-midwives

FUTURE: And, you can support future Black Canadian midwives by donating to Black student midwives here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/ffcv3k-support-black-midwifery-student-fund

An American organization, National Association to Advance Black Birth (NAABB), has developed the Black Birthing Bill of Rights- "a resource for every black person that engages in maternity care and a guide for government programs, hospitals, maternity providers and others as they transform their policies, procedures, and practices to meet the needs of Black birthing people."

Please take time this month to honour and remember Black American midwife, Anarcha, her companions, Betsey and Lucy, and other enslaved Black women who endured medical experimentation on their bodies, without consent and without anesthetic. They advanced the study of Gynecology, assisted surgeries and supported each other's post-surgical healing. If you want to learn more, you can read the book Say Anarcha.

At First Light Midwifery, we agree whole-heartedly with the following statement by NAABB:

"We believe that all Black women and birthing persons are entitled to respectful, equitable, and high-quality pre-, [intra-] and post-partum care. We want each black woman and birthing person to know their rights and to have the tools to confidently exercise these rights."