Here’s What It Was Like To Have an All-Black Birthing Team

In the United States, only 11 percent of OB/GYNs are Black. Racial biases and medical negligence can contribute to traumatic and morbid birthing experiences for Black people.  To help increase the odds of quality care, many people search far and wide for doctors that look like them. Doing so can help alleviate birthing anxiety and increase positive birth outcomes.

This is the journey that Morine Cebert Gators, PhD, embarked on when she started thinking about her birthing plan. In episode two of the Birthright podcast, award-winning journalist and author Kimberly Seals Allers chatted with Cebert Gators, her husband Beau, and her OB/GYN, Shenika Welch-Charles, MD.

After moving from Durham, NC to Knoxville, TN, Cebert Gaitors was on a mission to find a Black OB/GYN that would give her the level of care and attention she rightfully deserved. Initially, Cebert Gaitors took to private Facebook groups specifically seeking a Black OB/GYN. Her request was met with white women recommending white doctors, emphasizing their great experiences. But Cebert Gaitors knew her level of care would differ from theirs.

“Yes, Black women tend to feel safer in the hands of another Black provider, particularly a Black female provider, Cebert Gaitors said. “But they shouldn’t have to. ALL providers should be giving Black and brown birthing people the same standard of care mandated by their own governing organizations and quite frankly the same care they give white women.”

Finding Welch-Charles, the only Black OB/GYN in Knoxville was a miracle for the couple, and when Cebert Gaitors posted a photo of their all-Black birthing team, they became a viral sensation on Twitter. But the couple’s experience also came as a beautiful shock to the hospital staff.

“They were making a big deal about this beautiful couple going through this beautiful birth,” Welch-Charles said. “Because they don’t see that a lot. The nurses do not. I mean, we see it every day, all day, all the revolving door of the white couples who come in loving, you know, doting on one another supporting each other right there every step of the way. But we don’t see that a lot with our own race.”

Well+Good is bringing this joy to life, in a photo essay featuring five families who experienced joy during childbirth. Photographer Kwami Merzier went into their home to capture a snapshot of bliss between mother and son.

“It was great just to hear her story about her birthing experience and how it inspired her to create a whole platform to devote herself to research around Black birthing experiences for moms,” Merzier said. “Highlighting positive stories, or experiences that might not have started in the most positive manner, but ended up positive just gives us more insight into the experience and what needs to be changed.”

Listeners can stream “Morine’s Joy: A Dream Birthing Team Goes Viral” here.  And you can see the aforementioned photo essay here.

Loading More Posts...