We talked to Zina DeMonde about empowering African American moms. We love what she had to say:
We are all women of color, just different colors. All women want the same thing – a healthy baby, a healthy mom and most of all, to be the best mother. Educating moms on how to prepare for the huge transformation to motherhood is my focus. It is the main focus I have when entering the homes of African American moms. I believe that we have the same struggles as everyone else, we just react to them differently because of our culture, religious beliefs, and morals. I believe it is time we change the language and our thinking around the transformation into motherhood, as a whole.
African American women have always been strong since time and time again
I want to talk about the strength we have as African American women. African American moms are extremely self-sufficient. Our tradition and our struggles were passed down from our ancestors. Caring for others is a big part of that tradition. We know our strengths and we have to be strong. It is how we move forward. We take care of other’s homes. We care for each other. We cook for each other. We clean for each other. We need to be strong. Not every African American woman in the US fits this generalized description, but this is a big part of the culture African American women inherited.
It is what I see in my community. We are taught self-sufficiency and strength but it is also good to ask for help.
African American mothers are unique
In my work, I see that African American women have a different mindset around mothering. As moms, they are more self sufficient. When I go to the homes of moms, I talk to them about their needs and support them in accomplishing their tasks and goals. Moms with a different cultural heritage may be more likely to be comfortable being taken care of. In the homes of African American moms, I see them still in the role of caretaker, less likely to think about their own needs. I see them less likely to lean on others for support or ask for what they need.
For many African American moms, the struggle is different. It is not just about the challenges of being or becoming a mom. African American moms are more likely to be single moms than other groups of moms. Many struggle with financial literacy and financial issues. Access to good healthcare or any healthcare can be a challenge. I have seen that African American moms are less likely to question their doctors or demand their needs be met. They are less likely to look for resources to help them.
Birth equity for African American moms
We need others to see us. We need them to see us as individuals with needs. I’d like others to see us each as a unique person and treat us with love and respect for the human beings we are. Until doctors start to hear us as women and hear our needs, then our needs won’t get met.
Until African American women start demanding to be equal in the conversation, we won’t be. We need to own our voice and know our power and work together. As a birth worker and a mom, I come into the home and teach moms what they need to do to share their voice with their doctor. I inspire that they explore financial independence so they have more and more choices. I teach them to seek information and expect an education and answers.
We struggle. Yet we are strong. Our culture struggles. Yet we move forward. We need to learn to ask for help because asking for help doesn’t exist in our culture. We need to build a strong and supportive birthing team around us. We are entitled to more support. We need to know asking for help and expecting support is not a weakness.
A message for all moms
We are all women of color, just different colors. We need to see each other as individuals and acknowledge African American moms as individuals. Take the time to get to know their story and don’t make assumptions. Be supportive. Understand how the culture we inherit shapes us and impacts the decisions we make. Bridge the gap. Find the similarities and shared experiences. Having a baby is a life changing experience for all mothers.
What I love about being a mother
Being a mother of 8 and a grandmother of 4. It makes me laugh every time I say it! They range from the age of 28 to 5 months. This comes with so many ups and downs but the thing I love the most is watching them develop. I have all phases of childhood happening right before my eyes. Seeing them travel their journey is the most beautiful and yes, sometimes painful, experience.
Zina’s personal birthing experience began 26 years ago when she had her first daughter and then she went on to have seven more children. She is a mother of eight and a grandmother of four. In 2006 she developed a passion for Massage Therapy and Doula work. She is a Reiki master, Yoga Instructor, Massage Therapist and hosts workshops for women’s empowerment. She is the founder of Mother Baby Wellness Center.
Her passion is empowering women to find their inner voice. Zina believes there is a physical, emotional and spiritual experience that happens during the birthing journey for woman, and her goal is to help all moms and their babies find their special connection from inside the womb during the pregnancy and beyond.
AfterThird – find your village
A postpartum doula, support group facilitator, and lactation consultant are all great sources of support! Sign up on AfterThird to get access to wonderful services and support in your neighborhood. Let us help you figure out what you need. Welcoming a baby is wonderful and a lot of work.
Parents can sometimes forget to take care of themselves and their relationships when faced with the pressing needs of a young baby. Self Care.