Yes, black moms face more challenges and yes we can change that

A poem from Simone Toomer

Black History Month.
And thank you kindly for the
28 of 365
to celebrate

A nation built
On our backs
And in our wombs,

The wisdom of granny
Shunned and outlawed.
The wisdoms of birth
Lost amongst

Black bodies
For the doctor’s sake

Our milk leaked
Our babies starved
Our bodies broken
In a system not for

But we still comply
Another mother dies
We are stats of 4 times more high.

Milk in cans
SIDS on the rise.
Now I lay you down
To sleep, to sleep,
Forever to sleep.

I cry
I scream
But nobody believes
Bodies valued over my truth

Choices taken
Autonomy threatened
Power plays
Systemic racism
Quick to cut open
On the mend
Our bodies. Our minds. Our hearts.

Serena. Beyonce
Emergency C’s
At time with no medical need.

My degree
Another sheet
A paper on the wall
They look and see
Another black body

The numbers rise
We want different
But do the same
But time to reclaim

Call the midwife.
Call the doula.
Call the healers.
Call the brujas.

Build this nation up
Black History Month.

Meet Simone Toomer

Simone, how did you come to birth work?

I had a great in hospital birth experience with my daughter. However my doctor at the time was not supportive of my no intervention, no meds birth vision. I also remember leaving with formula at my 6 week postpartum visit despite exclusively nursing with no issues and not asking for it. I thought how many birthing persons are defeated from being unsupported from their care providers. How many ways does doubt slowly seep into our subconscious?

What keeps you in birth work?

Birth work has the power to transform the birthing person,entire birth team and the family and friends around it. To see people empowered to trust their bodies and the process is beautiful. Fear is real. Other people’s narratives also can cloud our journey. I love to see families empowered, educated and making informed decisions in their birth journey.

How are you involved in bringing Women of Color to a more empowered and healthful forefront.

I am a birth doula for the By My Side birth support program with the Department of Health in Brooklyn. We service the zip codes of Brooklyn that have the highest maternal mortality and lowest breastfeeding rates; Bushwick, East New York, Brownsville, and parts of Bed-Stuy. Our families are mostly Black and Latino. Despite mostly birthing in public hospitals that often do not practice evidence based medicine, with our doula team we can encourage our clients to ask questions, advocate for themselves and hopefully have a safe, healthy and empowered birth and initiate breastfeeding. These families have access to our childbirth education classes, newborn care class, our birth doulas who provide prenatal, labor/birth and postpartum support, and our lactation counselors for breastfeeding support.

If you had a magic wand, what would the realities look like for Women of Color in birth?

I want every POC to have access to resources that will give them options in where and how they give birth and for their postpartum health. It isn’t a matter of midwife or doctor, home, birthing center or hospital, although we know better birth outcomes are with midwives and a low risk person does not need to be in the hospital. I want the narrative around birth and breastfeeding to change in my community through education, support and awareness.

Simone’s Bio

Simone Toomer comes with a passion to serve each family, believing that each should have access to support and resources in a place where many in NYC are distant from their families and dear friends. After the positive natural birth of her daughter, with her doula and partner by her side, Simone wanted to channel her energy in a new direction, by becoming a certified birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator and doula educator/mentor for her certifying organization Doula Trainings International.

Simone has a BA in psychology, is a birth doula with the Brooklyn Department of Health By My Side Doula Support Program and looks to continue her education to further nurture families and bridge the gap between her community work and passion for social justice and advocacy. Simone is also a Broolyn based mother of two who enjoys making memories with her family.