News·5 min read

Daily Skimm Weekend: Black Doulas and Travel Tips for Two

 Black Doula Eve Akins helping a woman in labor.
Carmen Bridgewater Photography
February 4, 2023

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In honor of Black History Month, it’s time to celebrate some of the women working to improve the ongoing Black maternal health crisis in the US. ​​Reminder: Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women — which is due to a variety of reasons, like lacking access to quality health care and being more likely to have chronic conditions that can complicate pregnancy and childbirth. National efforts are working to address the issue, but in the meantime, Black pregnant people need more support. That’s where Black doulas step in. 

We spoke to four about the importance of their work and the rich history of Black birth support. Here’s what they had to say…

Q: How do doulas help improve outcomes in maternal health?

Sabia Wade: Being able to have someone who is there for you in a system that is not always supportive of you is life-changing. Someone who understands your culture, where you’re from, what your fears are, your family dynamics, and you as a person. That improves the physical, mental, and emotional experience of a Black birthing person.

Christine Eley: If we’re educated and we know how our bodies work, we’re not just nodding ‘yes’ to any [intervention] that comes our way…women go into the birth room knowing what they should and should not do, what benefits their body, what does not.

Q: How do you situate your work in the rich tradition of Black birth support? 

Eve Akins (above): It’s really going back to when we were a village, when we were a community as a people. The midwives served in the community and knew all of the babies and the mothers and the families. It’s taking us back to our roots and trusting our bodies and birthing the way that we were designed to birth. It’s ancestral work.

Q: What would make the biggest difference going forward for Black maternal health?

Cheryl Neufville Etiang: You should have access to a birth worker that will be able to support you and understand you…without worrying about the price. There also needs to be more education on what doulas and midwives do, especially in the Black community. And that you can be safe birthing in various spaces. It doesn’t always have to be the hospital. I think if people knew what their options are, they would choose differently.

PS: To read more of our conversations, click here.

Psst, these interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

What's Happening

In entertainment…

As the Beyhive anxiously waits for Renaissance tour tickets to go on sale, a big question remains: Will Beyoncé finally win the Album of the Year at the Grammys tomorrow night? Or will the awards show once again break our souls? Also, tune in to see Lizzo serve up something special, and Harry Styles bring down the house. Meanwhile, HBO will also drop the next episode of “The Last of Us.” And Pamela Anderson is setting the record straight. By the way, if you think you’re seeing Martha Stewart everywhere, you’re not wrong.

In wellness...

Turns out, therapy-speak may not always be that helpful. But ice baths could make a splash in mental health. And research shows our happiest days may be on the horizon. Plus, as some try to avoid being “benched” in their love lives, others are once again hitting the gym. But not necessarily HIIT-ing.

In tech...

One app is trying to prevent tech workers from going into layoffs Blind, while another promises “a personalized news feed.” And in the wake of growing concerns around ChatGPT and cheating, a new tool is helping teachers identify AI-generated text — though, it’s not earning an A+ just yet. Plus, TikTok released its first-ever Black Visionary Voices list.

Weekend Escape

*Slams laptop shut until Monday.* We know the feeling. And we’ve got some tips for escape.

Love is in the air…really. That’s because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you’re looking to do something more than just dinner and a movie to celebrate, why not use the holiday as an excuse for taking a little vacay? Whether you’re taking a trip next week with your SO or going on a “bestiemoon” next month with your friend, here are some tips for traveling with someone else…

  • Pick a destination you’re both excited about. That could be somewhere big, like a city overseas. Or, if it’s your first trip, it might be better to start small (think: visiting another state or even a nearby city). If you’re struggling, consider how you want to feel while you’re on vacation, then think about places that might elicit that. 

  • Agree on a budget. Whether at home or on vacay, money is one of the most common reasons that couples fight. So to avoid arguing while you're away, be transparent about your budget before booking. That should include how much you want to spend on things like food and accommodations, as well as how you’ll split the bills.

  • Create wishlists. Once you’ve decided on a destination, think about what you’d like to do on the trip. And ask whoever you’re traveling with to do the same. Then compare notes, seeing where you overlap — and where you can compromise. (Pro tip: Make sure to leave room for some spontaneity.) 

  • Carve out alone time. Having some time to yourself can enhance your vacation experience — particularly if you and your SO have vastly different bucket lists. Talk about how much alone time each of you might need, then schedule accordingly. 

  • Discuss any concerns ASAP. No surprise, communication is key. So be honest with your travel partner about any concerns you might have — from your finances to your itinerary. And check in often, so you can make any adjustments if needed.

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