Fundraising Campaign Launches to Pair Victims of Birth Trauma with Black Mental Health
A new national campaign launched today to raise funds and awareness for the need to provide professional mental health support to the thousands of Black women and birthing people who have experienced obstetric violence and other traumatic experiences during pregnancy and childbirth.
RESTORATION! The Healing Black Birth fund opened with an initial goal to raise $50,000 to offer therapy by trained perinatal mental health professionals of color to hundreds of Black birthing people.
The campaign is a new initiative of the Birthright podcast, hosted by national maternal and infant health advocate and Black maternal tech founder, Kimberly Seals Allers. Birthright features positive Black birth stories as a direct counter-narrative to the doom and gloom approach in mainstream media coverage of Black maternal health.
“I started the Birthright podcast to share positive Black birth stories and to spark more joy in the Black birth space. But I realized that we can’t have true joy without healing. We can’t have restoration without reconciliation and that means acknowledging and supporting those who have already suffered harm within this system and not normalizing their distressing experiences,” says Seals Allers, who is also the founder of Irth, a new Yelp-like app for Black parents to find and leave reviews of OB/GYNS, birthing hospitals, and pediatricians.
Birthright’s inaugural season features eight inspiring Black birth stories and two special “restoration” episodes, where victims of Black birth trauma sit with a therapist for a healing session.
“There is a lot of birth trauma in our community, some of it being multi-generational,” says Nneka Symister, a licensed psychotherapist in New York City, specializing in the parenting spectrum and one of the Heal Black Birth therapists. “We have to stop normalizing it. It needs to be acknowledged, addressed, and healed. It’s important for us to show how, and to lead the process,” adds Symister, who has been the lead therapist for Birthright.
“Historically, Black women have given more than enough to the obstetrics and gynecology field and it is time they get something in return,” Seals Allers says. For example, Dr. Marion Sims, who was lauded as the “father” of the OB/GYN field used enslaved Black women for experimentation, often without anesthesia, using their bodies to build his reputation.
Today, Black women and birthing people are disproportionally victims of harassment, disrespectful, neglect, and obstetric violence. Black mothers experience severe maternal morbidity, defined as near deaths during or after childbirth, at a 66% higher rate than white women, according to the most recent Listening to Mothers national survey.
“We cannot yet prevent all the harm, but we can help people heal,” notes Seals Allers, who is also the co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week, which takes place August 25-31. “The time is now.”
Donations to RESTORATION!: The Healing Black Birth Fund can be made at BirthrightPodcast.com and via CashApp: $HealBlackBirth
All funds will be used to directly pay therapists.
Ten licensed professionals including Mystique Hargove (@theBlackBirthHealer), Jabina Coleman (@TheLactationTherapist), Marina Nabao (@marinanabao), and Saleemah McNeil (@oshun_family_center) are part of the initial therapist community.
Mental health professionals of color and Black parents who would like to receive counseling services can apply to be a part of Healing Black Birth by submitting their information at https://birthrightpodcast.com/podcast/the-healing-black-birth-fund/
(Note: Fathers/Papas who have experienced trauma are also welcome)
Listen to Birthright on all podcast streaming platforms. Birthright is a project of Narrative Nation Inc. a Black-women-owned, media and technology non-profit, based in New York City. Birthright is funded by the California Health Care Foundation. Narrative Nation also created Irth, as in birth but without the B for bias, the new Yelp-like review and rating app for Black and brown parents to find and leave reviews of doctors and hospitals. Learn more about Irth at IrthApp.com. Follow @iamKSealsAllers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and @TheIrthApp on Facebook and Instagram.