Documentary: Death by Delivery

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

It was mid January and I'd just finished my doula training through DONA. I was excited and ready to fulfill this passion of supporting women in child birth that was bubbling over. I was looking forward to going to a doula orientation the following weekend facilitated by Sekesa Berry of Love N Touch Birth Services. This was an orientation to volunteer for her Doula On- call Service. The event was taking place in historical West End, Atlanta, my old stomping ground. The location was called the Mother House and this is the same place that also housed the organization, Sister Song (The largest organization dedicated to reproductive Justice for women of color) that I admired from a distance for so long. I remember feeling so magical like everything was divinely lining up. My goals were finally in alignment with my purpose. The feeling was amazing. I...was... called.

I stepped in the building bright eyed, excited and I was seeing a lot of women who looked like me. I settled in with my fellow doula and long time friend as we both prepared for the speaker. Sekesa came forward and introduced herself and proceeded to turn on the large television in the front of the room. The documentary, Death By Delivery was started. As I sat there watching the details unfold right before my eyes I went through a series of emotions all at once. I was hurt, sad, surprised, and ashamed that I was so oblivious to what was happening to African American women in the United

States of America, one of the most powerful nations in the world. My sisters were dying in my birth home of New York and my current home of Georgia.

I couldn't comprehend that this was happening in 2018. Per The NY Times article, "Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis By LINDA VILLAROSA posted APRIL 11, 2018 "Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. In one year, that racial gap adds up to more than 4,000 lost black babies. Education and income offer little protection. In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education.This tragedy of black infant mortality is intimately intertwined with another tragedy: a crisis of death and near death in black mothers themselves. The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality — the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth up to a year after the end of pregnancy — is now worse than it was 25 years ago. Each year, an estimated 700 to 900 maternal deaths occur in the United States. In addition, the C.D.C. reports more than 50,000 potentially preventable near-deaths, like Landrum’s, per year — a number that rose nearly 200 percent from 1993 to 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as their white counterparts, according to the C.D.C. — a disproportionate rate that is higher than that of Mexico, where nearly half the population lives in poverty — and as with infants, the high numbers for black women drive the national numbers."

After watching this documentary I knew that being called to this birth work was much more than what I originally thought. I believe it is important to share this information within our communities. Technology has allowed us many platforms to do our due diligence. We need to Inform others of what is going on and begin to come up with a solution. It is time to be the change that I want to see. This work is bigger then one person but I am here for it.

To be apart of the solution can mean many things. You can volunteer, advocate, march, donate to organizations, become a doula or birth worker, a child birth educator, lactation specialist, womb wellness practitioner, host events or just educate the women in your circle...

Here are some resources to help you along the way:

Sister Song | Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective

Address: 1237 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard Atlanta, Georgia, 30310 Phone: (404) 756‑2680 Email:

Love N touch (Facilitator of The Doula Collective for Mothers that are in need of support)

Midwife and Associates

Brittany Ellison

Don't forget to check out my resource page on my website

Follow me @doulayna or @soulsistahnaynay on instagram

Peace & Love


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