BlackMother: Stories Surrounding Childbirth & Remembrances of Traditional Birth Workers in the American South

By Nicole JeanBaptiste

This installation is a part of Then, Now, Next: Oral History for Social Change, OHMA's multimedia interactive popup exhibition of stories, which will take place at the Refectory at Union Theological Seminary on April 29, 2015.

A small collection of photographs and paintings accompanied by oral history recordings of women of African descent provide insight into the shifts in birthing practices over several generations. Issues such as racism and capitalism reveal themselves as influential elements in the way the experience of birth pans out for the women. Embedded in these connected narratives is the relationship between shifting modes of birthing practices and the history behind the traditional midwife, once a pillar in the world of maternal healthcare in this country. Come to listen as well as to share your own birth story.

Nicole JeanBaptiste is a birth and postpartum doula whose goal it is to serve women in need regardless of their socio-economic standing. Hailing from the Bronx, New York, Nicole has worked extensively with immigrant women and girls living in NYC teaching English, as well as literacy and leadership skills. As an Oral History MA student at Columbia her focus has been on the evolution of birthing practices among women of African descent and how this may be linked to the history of midwifery in the American South. Nicole plans to continue collecting narratives from black women who can speak to shifts in childbirth practices and traditional midwifery and use them to write a book of creative non-fiction on this subject.

Read more about Then, Now, Next: Oral History and Social Change.