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Black Birth Centers Need Our Help
by Ashley-Nicole Gross
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October 7, 2020

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Black Birth Centers Need Our Help

Ashley-Nicole Gross (Courtesy of J.M. Polynice)
Ashley-Nicole Gross (Courtesy of J.M. Polynice)

As the world, our country, and our individual communities continue to shine a light on the importance of Black Lives, we want to make sure that Black Maternal Health stays at the top of that list. Because without Black Mothers and Black Birthing People…there is no Black Life.

I’m Ashley-Nicole: a producer, a mother and a wife. I’m from New Orleans and I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for over 12 years. I’ve given birth to three healthy children naturally in my home with the help from midwives and doulas. Why? Because the statistics behind black maternal and infant mortality are really scary. I mean, if I gave birth in a hospital, the probability of me dying before, during or after childbirth is 12 times higher than that of any white woman.

I was tired of my white, male doctor telling me, “You’re strong. You can handle it. You’ll be fine.” No, sir, I’m not fine. Historically, white doctors have believed that black people are impervious to pain. Frankly, my doctor ignoring the data, and my statement of emotional fear and physical discomfort is indicative of systemic racism and implicit bias. Needless to say, he’s not my doctor anymore. 

My doctor ignoring the data and my statement of emotional fear and physical discomfort is indicative of systemic racism and implicit bias.

Kimberly Durdin, IBCLC, and Allegra Hill, CPM, LM, IBCLC (Photo courtesy of Kindred Space L.A.)
Kimberly Durdin, IBCLC, and Allegra Hill, CPM, LM, IBCLC (Photo courtesy of Angela Hughes)

Enter the co-founders of Kindred Space LA, Kimberly Durdin, IBCLC, (who’s been involved in all of my home births) and Allegra Hill, CPM, LM, IBCLC, two Black women who have devoted their lives to the midwifery model of care, who understand the complexities, violence, racism and other issues that Black, Brown and Queer communities face bringing forth children in this world. With a total of eight children and four grandchildren between them collectively, and nearly a thousand birth stories, Kimberly and Allegra have dedicated decades of their lives to building the Beloved Birth Community.

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In addition to training over 200 birth workers, they continue to orchestrate healing circles, and provide: father, mother, and partner support; low-cost lactation clinics; pelvic floor healing; mental health and breastfeeding support; anti-racism circles; trauma-informed training; body-positive workshops and more. 

These centers — especially those led by people-of-color — honor and respect cultural and spiritual traditions that are essential in all times, and especially in times of crisis. However, access to community-based freestanding Birth Centers within the Black/African-American and POC communities in LA has been lacking. A 2018 California Healthcare Foundation survey found 11% of pregnant women want to deliver in a Birth Center, and those with Medicaid were more interested than women with private insurance, but only 0.52% of women delivered in a Birth Center between 2004-17. Another national survey of women who had just given birth in a hospital found that 25% of them wanted to give birth in a Birth Center separate from the hospital.

These centers — especially those led by people-of-color — honor and respect cultural and spiritual traditions that are essential in all times, and especially in times of crisis.

Kimberly Durdin IBCLC, doula and senior student midwife (Photo courtesy of Shaughn and John)
Kimberly Durdin IBCLC, doula and senior student midwife (Photo courtesy of Shaughn and John)

FYI, the number of birth centers in the community owned and operated by Black providers in Los Angeles stands at 0. Kimberly Durdin and Allegra Hill are changing that.

They have broken ground on their new birth center, Kindred Space, to service mothers in and around Los Angeles. I couldn’t be more proud to know them. I’ve had beautiful birthing experiences with Kim and other midwives by my side, and I want all women to have these birthing options. I believe that it’s the responsibility of us all, as Black people, to help support better outcomes for our families. Give just $10 and/or spread the word. Let’s do this together! Check out the Go Fund Me Page: gofundme.com/KindredSpace and give what you can. It’s tax deductible! But more importantly, it’s a really good cause.

For more background on the birth center and its midwives, visit Kimberly Durdin and Allegra Hill at the website: kindredspacela.com.

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