CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte Doula Kira Kimble has had a lot of inquiries over the past month.
She reached out to me on social media to tell me my special series on Black Maternal Health last month caused a spike in interest in her business, TJACK Doula.
“Immediately after your story ran, I noticed a sudden uptick in the number of people that were inquiring about how can I find a doula, how can I be a doula, how can you be my doula,” she recalled.
In April, we marked Black Maternal Health Week with a series of stories about the care black mothers receive, the options they have, and the risks they face during pregnancy. Black women are up to four times more likely to die from pregnancy than white women.
Not only that, Kimble says traffic on website shot up after my story on the rise of black doulas aired.
“Our click through on my website had gone up 200 percent in one day and it was just amazing to see the response,” she excitedly told me. “People were contacting me - not out of fear, but out of being informed and educated and wanting to take control of their care and trying to find out ways to help do that.”
She says that was key because there are so many myths about doulas - especially what they look like.
“They, again had a cookie cutter image of what a doula looked like and they did not know there was such a wealth of doulas of color in Charlotte; and what your series did was highlight that we are out here,” Kimble explained. “We’re out here doing the work and you do have a lot of options to find care that looks like you.”
Finding care that looks like you has also been key for Black mothers. That’s what Dr. Octavia Cannon told WBTV last month during our interview at Arboretum Obstetrics and Gynecology, the all-black women practice she and her two partners run in South Charlotte.
“It’s really you know sometimes people will judge you as soon as you walk in the door and they see your face,” she said.
She recently contacted me, eager to share happy news about two of their patients I met who’ve since given birth to healthy babies with no complications. Shanee Wiggins gave birth to her first child, Taylor Olivia who weighed a healthy 9lbs, 2 oz.
“Mom pushed like a champ!” Dr. Cannon wrote in a text message.
Aneka Jackson, whose shared her harrowing story of her firstborn, Ariel being born at just 26 weeks had a very different experience this time around. She and her husband, Desmond welcomed a son, Desmond Smooth Jackson, II. Born at 37 weeks, he weighed 4lbs, 13 oz - more than double what his big sister weighed when she entered the world.
It’s why Kimble said continued coverage of the black maternal health crisis in this country is so important.
“The more you say it, the more people can envision,” she said. “It’s so subtle you don’t know. And once you see, that OK - this is a problem that’s facing a lot of us that look like that. And you’re saying that this is not something that I’m creating in my head that I really am experiencing this, it helps empower you.”
Empowerment Kira wished she’d had as a first time mom. "And so I kind of had a plan for what I wanted to do and when I handed that plan to my doctor, she looked at it and threw it on the floor,” she remembered.
“And, she said this is the kind of thing that impedes from doing my job. “It was just very dismissive. And I felt like she was telling me to shut up, let me do my job and you just lay there. And I felt dis-empowered.”
It’s why as a doula - it’s her job, her life’s work to make sure no other Black mama has to feel that way.
“That shared experience,” she explained. “The ones that kind of pick up on the subtleties, the code that certain - that are spoken sometimes that you can kind of reset the birth space so that you don’t have to be the one feeling slighted. Or you feel like you need to watch over your shoulder. That you have someone there that has your back, that can protect you and know that you’re in a safe space.”
For more information on Kimble’s service or to learn more about how to become a doula, head to her website here.
You can see all of my stories on Black maternal health here.