About eight months into her pregnancy, Kiki Jordan felt disappointed with the prenatal care she was receiving at a nearby hospital.
“As a black woman, I didn’t really feel like I was seen,” Jordan, who is based in Oakland, Calif., Told HuffPost. “I didn’t feel like I was being listened to. I saw a different provider each time I went for my antenatal visits. I knew I wasn’t going to know who would deliver my baby. I had these very short 15 to 30 minute visits, and no one was talking to me.
It was then that she decided to work with a midwife – a healthcare professional who guides a woman through pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and the postpartum period at home. This decision changed his life.
Jordan described the experience as “an integral, witty, full-witted approach to care.” She believed that other women of color should receive the same level of attention during childbirth, so in 2005 she launched her own career as a midwife.
Jordan opened Birthland Midwifery at 40 with her partner, Anjali Sardeshmukh, another woman of color. Birthland’s mission is to make high-quality midwifery and prenatal home care financially accessible to women of color and low-income communities. Jordan estimates that about 80% of her clientele are black women, whom she is particularly passionate about service – largely because she knows that historically the inpatient birthing system has failed black women every time. step.
The statistics are grim. Pregnant black women are 45% more likely to die in hospital than their white counterparts, regardless of socioeconomic status or education level, according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. They are also 23% more likely to have a heart attack, according to the researchers.
The death rate for black newborns is three times that of white newborns. However, an August 2020 study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that the death rate of black newborns is cut in half when they are cared for by black doctors, especially those who are black. pediatricians, neonatologists and family physicians.
Jordan believes that racism and implicit prejudices are at the heart of the disparities in maternal health between black and white communities.
“Black women encounter implicit biases from the moment they walk to the reception,” Jordan said. “When they navigate a system that is not designed by them and in which they may not be properly integrated, they are mixed up and lost.”
“There’s something called white coat syndrome where when you go to a healthcare professional your blood pressure goes up,” she continued. “I think black women are surrounded by stress and a high hormonal cortisol surge most of the time. When you step into a system where you already feel underrepresented, unappreciated, feel like you need to change codes, and talk about your health care, it affects your physical health. ”
With Birthland, Jordan seeks to provide expectant parents with the exact opposite experience she had in the hospital during her own pregnancy. Providing our clients with true continuity of care and a personalized, holistic experience is of the utmost importance.
“It’s so personal,” she says. “I kept wanting to share with black women I knew and loved how awesome home childbirth can be.”
Several relatives, all black, attended Jordan’s birth and witnessed his experience with a midwife – which made her even more motivated, she said.
“All the women in my family had had a caesarean and they attended my birth. Their whole outlook on birth changed forever, and I was able to witness it in my mother, grandmother and aunts, ”Jordan said. “I just wanted to spread this. I felt it was my calling. I’m meant to help black women reinvent what childbirth can be for them.
Over the past year, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected black and brown communities, leading to a significant increase in the number of pregnant black women turning to midwives. Jordan said his practice has almost quadrupled since the pandemic hit. While an influx of clients is a positive thing, it has put Jordan’s vision for the future of his practice on hold.
“We wanted to have ongoing in-person childbirth education, lactation education, postpartum support groups, prenatal groups, annual family reunions, etc.” to keep people connected, ”she said. “This vision is on hold because there is really nothing we can do in person, but it is our dream: to bring people together, to keep clients connected even after leaving our care, to build community.
Yet Jordan’s mission remains the same: to provide pregnant black women with the best possible care.
“There is nothing better than working with a black woman and watching her fully develop and blossom under your care,” Jordan said. “I am her, she is me. She sees herself in me.