I knew I wanted to pursue birth work from the time I was 13 years old. Picture me circa 2003, trying to find out what I had to do in order to help people deliver babies and being told I would need to become an obstetrician. As I continued to move through this world, growing, learning, and simply being a black girl and woman, my visions for how and why I would do birth work evolved with me.
Today, as a doula and a mother of 4 amazing humans, I embody birth work in a way I don’t think my 13-year-old self could’ve fathomed. It isn’t merely a career path or something that I get extremely passionate about – Birth work is my resistance!
It is resistance to systems as deep and long-standing as patriarchy, to current systems that aim to capitalize on the very essence of life by any means. It is resistance to the fact that my own granny, whom I love and hold ever so dear to my heart, birthed 13 children at home in a rural black community in Nova Scotia, Canada without common luxuries or any highly medicalized intervention — but was also unable to pursue her personal dreams and passions due to circumstance and norms of the era.
My number one goal in my work is to educate people about their rights over their bodies and to empower them to be confident enough to understand natural occurrences in conception, pregnancy, and birth. I urge all clients, friends, and supporters to question the ways in which things are routinely done by professionals providing care along those lines. Doing things “because that’s what my mother and her mother did” is not the way to go if these ways haven’t served the highest good. It’s so important to ask questions, especially when the information you’re receiving isn’t sitting right with you. Why shouldn’t I attempt breastfeeding? Why is it essential for me to take this test without preconditions? Why can’t I create the birth space I desire with the people I love? Why don’t my providers believe in my body’s ability to birth the way I want?
It’s no doubt that black women bear the brunt of the failures in our medical system. Awareness of this is integral to creating change however, I also don’t think this is the only proper angle to work from. I don’t want us to work only from a traumatized or lack-based outlook. I want us to work knowing how great we are and all that we possess as the mothers of civilization. Reclaiming the knowledge of granny-midwives all the way back to medicine women in the villages of Africa; and even further back to royal empires. Birth work goes so deep because it is what has kept humanity alive. I am because my mother was, and because her mother (my granny) was. I support and teach mothers for their own benefit but also for the two little girls looking up from my feet and those before me who couldn’t follow their dreams. Although the business part can be difficult and there are many realities that push back against visions of progress. I am fully aware that I’d be doing a disservice to many if I didn’t boldly embody the work that was meant for me. I know that empowered women, empower women so my purpose is not just my own, it’s way bigger than me. We each have something of value to give, we just have to see the value and nurture it.
So, I challenge every eye or ear that this touches to start questioning or continue to question the status quo. And if what you find doesn’t work or seem right, challenge it, change it and use the light within you in your own unique way to create a new normal that actually works.
Ebboni X Savory is a birth doula and CEO of Wombase Inc. Her writing has been featured in online publications such as Mama Glow and Black Moms Blog. With a focus on awareness and education in birth work; when Ebboni is not serving clients through pregnancy and birth support she enjoys growing food and building her business. She lives in the Caribbean with her husband and four children.