Midwifery inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

During a home visit recently, a new mom described how calm and simple her birth was as she gazed dreamily at her sweet, new baby nursing. She shared that she’d opted to be induced, and I don’t know if my eyes narrowed, or my energy changed, or if I inadvertently showed some judgment or discomfort on my face, but she quickly defended her choice.

Just in general, I often share about why after my first birth in the hospital, I opted for subsequent home births attended by midwives, how I caught my son by myself, my natural-term breastfeeding experiences, because I am proud of those things. Sometimes, personal approaches, choices and experiences can be construed as indirect judgment upon those who have divergent experiences. That’s how I was interpreting or reading into this interaction. 

Around the time I’d gone to visit this dyad, I saw the graphic, as I’m sure many of you may have, of a sketched pitocin bag and text that reads: “Holidays are not a medical reason for induction.” Indeed not! In the case of this mother, she was well-informed and she felt in control of her decision about how she would birth her child. Where there is autonomy and informed choice, there should be no judgment or scrutiny.

Home birth scene by a 4-year-old

I’ve been exposed to several of the faces of the kaleidoscope of reproductive health: as an adolescent, as a birthing patient in a hospital, as a home birther, as someone going through IVF as a prospective gestational carrier, and in all of those experiences, where I felt heard, held, safe, where my autonomy was honored, was in the care of my home birth midwives. 

It’s why I was so pleased to learn that midwifery was recently inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Securing this recognition is not only well-deserved by the many, many generations of midwives who have supported and continue to support healthy families, but essential in order to safeguard those in the practice of protecting fundamental human rights. 

Please enjoy this beautiful video by UNESCO honoring midwives. 

More to explore 

US women of color increasingly seeking alternatives to hospital births – study

more OUR MILKY WAY COVERAGE ON MIDWIVES

Honoring midwives during Women’s History Month

Alabama birth worker facilitates holistic, sustainable care for families

Taking ‘if’ out of the equation

Skin-to-skin in the operating room after cesarean birth

High schoolers explore human placenta, learn about physiological birth

Happy Birth Day, a new project by Dr. Kajsa Brimdyr

An opportunity for normal birth

Renaissance Woman

Dr. Soo Downe: International Breastfeeding Conference presenter Sneak Peak

LCTC participant rewrites cultural norms with “Afrofuturist healing modalities”

African American Breastfeeding Network (AABN) is outside and celebrating connection and community

Photo by Criativa Pix Fotografia

For 15 years, the African American Breastfeeding Network (AABN) has been leading and immersed in integral work to improve maternal child health outcomes in the Greater Milwaukee area.

AABN was founded by Angelia Wilks-Tate and Dalvery Blackwell who set out to  address breastfeeding disparities through a community-led organization. Blackwell now serves as the organization’s first executive director and Wilks-Tate serves as the President of the Board Directors.

Photo by julio andres rosario ortiz

AABN hosts healing spaces for birth workers, facilitates doula trainings including the HealthConnect One community doula training and WeRISE Community Doula Program, celebrates father involvement, holds space for bereaved parents, fights for birth and reproductive justice, and more and more and more. Simply visit their Facebook page and you’ll catch a glimpse of the passion, the wisdom, comradery, fun, and the dedication. You can also read about their 2020 impact here.

Yesterday, the organization and its partners hosted their ninth annual  Lift Up Every Baby! Celebration.  Lift Up Every Baby “is all about the blissful happiness we experience when our community comes together to celebrate, securing our collective power to help create spaces of health and wellness!” the organization shared with their social media followers. Pregnant people and young families were invited to experience a community-drive and  “family-centered afternoon of festivities, celebrations, good food and positive vibes.”

The event fit perfectly into Black Breastfeeding Week’s (BBW) 2023 theme: We Outside! Celebrating Connection & Our Communities.

https://blackbreastfeedingweek.org/

Perhaps one of the most touching moments of each year’s event is the opening ceremony made possible by Zakiya Courtney celebrating participants’ cultural heritage and values.

You can check out footage from last year’s event here and stay tuned for reports from this year’s celebration here.