At Mamatoto Village, we refer to the people who offer labor support for birthing families in Washington DC Metro Area, Community Birth Workers (CBWs). As emerging members of the maternity health care team, they are culturally reflexive, rooted in the community, and fill in systemic gaps in care.
Their role is strictly non-clinical, allowing them to focus instead on the emotional and physical needs of the birthing person and the partner. CBWs provide a sense of continuity in the birthing person’s care that is typically lost in an institutional setting.
Provider shift changes, rotating on-call schedules, and the myriad of other new faces that expectant parents must navigate can be overwhelming at a vulnerable time. The CBWs presence is a reassuring constant in the midst of what is essentially a challenging and transformative, though too often stressful, experience.
What is the benefit?
CBWs provide a range of comfort measures for the laboring person, including massage, assistance with relaxation techniques, and more. They encourage the birthing person while including the partner in support efforts, helping them to participate as desired. CBWs encourage their clients to engage in informed decision-making with health care providers, helping provide information and a full range of options so that parents claim responsibility for their choices.
CBWs do not give medical advice. Before, during, and after birth, CBWs attempt to meet the educational needs of clients, including teaching coping techniques, assisting with the development of a birth plan, and providing evidence-based information on late pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and newborn care topics.
Community Doula [doo·luh]
A trained companion who provides nonclinical support to another person during a significant health-related experience, such as childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, or non-reproductive experiences such as dying.
Black women have consistently held space for one another during our reproductive journeys, particularly birth and mothering. Historically, the responsibility of a “doula” was that of sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and aunties; women who were a part of the community and experienced the journey of parenthood. At Mamatoto Village we are honored to continue that tradition. It is our greatest hope that the families we work with feel the spirit of that intention to reclaim Black birth, sustain our families, transmit knowledge, and carry forward ancestral wisdom.