On Sojourner Truth, Motherhood and Trust

For Black History Month 2016, HealthConnect One invited partners and allies to share how they have been influenced or inspired by Black women who made history – women like Sojourner Truth. ~ Editor’s Note

by Phyllis Brown

phyllis brownSojourner Truth traveled telling the truth. She also had some of her children taken away from her.

As a community-based doula, I have some understanding of both of these circumstances.

I want to talk about my experience with a client and her pregnancy, which pushed me to stand up and advocate for services to help ease her stress, anxiety, and feeling of overwhelm.

I wanted to make sure I could support this young lady to find her voice and communicate with her providers concerning her wants and needs. I went with her to a meeting with her case management agency, for support, so that she would know someone was with her and walking alongside her regardless.

This mother was so stressed about her pregnancy and wanted to make sure her pregnancy was not in vain. She wanted a crib, a car seat, a bathtub, equipment that would make her feel like a mother, equipment that was given to other mothers without hesitation.

I began to tell the case management agency the truth about this young mother and her anxiety concerning infant equipment, and why it was important to her, but the agency did not see the importance of it as we did. I continued to speak the truth. If we could provide this young mother a chance to speak, if we could simply listen with compassion and affirm her needs by providing her with the equipment she desired, then if her pregnancy ended up in the loss of custody of her child after birth, she could still be part of caring for her baby. She could still help to make sure everything would be fine. The equipment was one of the ways this mom could feel her pregnancy was real and be acknowledged by others as a mother.

I wanted to make sure this mom felt supported and had the opportunity to go through “nesting” as other moms do, regardless if her baby was staying with her or not. I gave equipment to the mom from our agency, to help her have her nesting moment.

We set it up together.

This has built trust between the mother and me.

Phyllis Brown works as a community-based doula for UCAN in Chicago. She has been in the business of supporting others through the birthing process for more than 35 years and began doing this professionally 12 years ago. She was working with a population of young people who were in need of the service and it was bestowed upon her to assist. She has formal training as a community-based doula and has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Organizational Psychology.  

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