So You Want to be a Midwife?

In Spring 2021 Common Sense Childbirth and the University of California San Francisco launched a national survey of people of color interested in becoming midwives. We also invited survey participants to share their powerful stories of why becoming a midwife was important to them, what barriers they have faced on their journey, and what it would mean to their community to have more midwives of color. You can read their stories below.


Aspiring midwives of color are mainly motivated by racism witnessed during childbirth

Once upon a time, midwifery in the US was a Black woman’s trade. Enslaved women were in charge of deliveries, and passed the knowledge of childbirth through generations. Yet today, 90% of midwives in the country are white, and fewer than 700 are Black.

This is a result of the evolution of the field of gynecology in the US, which first stripped Black women of their role in childbirth—replacing Black midwives with white doctors—then made midwifery a privilege accessible only to few, typically white upper-middle class women.

Yet even as the field of midwifery continues to grow, women of color, particularly Black women, have a hard time entering the field. This is especially detrimental to Black mothers, who experience a risk of maternal mortality up to four times higher than their white counterparts, and are proven to have better outcomes when treated by midwives of color.



Our article Racism is a motivator and a barrier for people of color aspiring to become midwives in the United States in Health Services Research has been published online.