Reclaiming Our Power: Black Women Resisting Medicalized Birthing




Okafor, Odera

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This project explores Black women’s reclamation of power, autonomy, and consent outside of the medical system during and after pregnancy. Through the use of midwives and doulas, Black women throughout the United States have started to return to traditional methods of birthing as a result of the rising U.S. maternal mortality rate, and the increasing racial disparity in birth outcomes. Reclaiming power, autonomy, and consent, are important factors in dismantling the systemic and historic racism ingrained within the modern U.S. medical system. This project examines the historical medicalization of birth as an entryway point for this discussion. Starting with a discussion of U.S. slavery and moving into the present, this project investigates the history of gynecology and the rise and fall of midwifery in the United States. As part of my investigation, I conducted interviews with midwives and doulas in the Texas area about the new rise of midwifery. Ultimately, the main objectives of this project are: 1) Analyze the medicalization of birthing in the United States 2); Explore how midwives and doulas empower Black women through birth work and the midwifery model of care; and 3) Address the importance of patient power, autonomy, and consent within and outside of the medical system.



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