Black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers. Kim Durdin is fighting to change that. She is the co-founder of non-profit Birthing People Foundation which trains doulas and midwives of color. And this week, she was willing to take the time to tell Patti and Aleks about the historical context behind the current crisis in maternal and infant health among people of color, as well as other marginalized groups. This is a must listen for all of us.
Support The Birthing People Foundation
The documentaries Kim mentions in this episode:
George Stoney’s All My Babies: A Midwife’s Own Story (watch for free on YouTube)
Diane Paul’s Miss Margaret (for rent on Vimeo)
James Baldwin’s I Am Not Your Negro
Here is a discussion about "weathering" with the researcher who coined the phrase.
For more information on the incredible story of Bridget “Biddy” Mason check out this article in Curbed LA:
Learn more about the research conducted by Saraswathi Vedam and the Birth Place Lab
And learn about the incredible work Jennie Joseph is doing in Florida, read up on her Easy Access Prenatal Care Clinics.
Kim mentions the shooting of Philando Castile. If you are not familiar with the murder case and video she is referencing, you can read about it here.
The music in this episode was composed by:
Full transcript: Kim Durdin
Kim Durdin: Why don't we have more black midwives? Our teachers are gone.
Aleks Evanguelidi: When I have that knowing in my body, of how powerful I am-.
Kim Durdin: Absolutely.
Aleks Evanguelidi: -that's what's been taken away from you.
Patti Quintero: What would you say is the biggest piece of advice you would give a woman of color who's just found out she's pregnant?
Kim Durdin: Look within, begin having a conversation, and then are you considering using a midwife?
Patti Quintero: Welcome to Under The Hood. I'm Patti,.
Aleks Evanguelidi: And I'm Aleks. And today we have the pleasure of talking with my good friend Kimberly Durdin. Kim is pretty much an all-around badass. She has done more for advocating for new moms and new families than anybody else I know. Over the last 26 years, Kim has worked with thousands of families providing lactation care, post-partum support, community counseling and childbirth education, as well as mentoring current and future birth workers.
Aleks Evanguelidi: In 2015, she was awarded Best Lactation Professional by Doulas of Southern California. In 2016, she was given the student future leader Dr. Paul Fleiss Award from the Association for a Holistic Maternal Newborn Health and Human Rights in Childbirth.
Patti Quintero: In March of 2018, Kimberly and business midwife partner Alegra Hill opened Kindreds Space L.A., a birth lactation and education space. Kindreds Space LA is also home to the Birthing People Foundation, a non-profit, they co-founded to train more birth workers of color.
Aleks Evanguelidi: We are so thrilled to have Kim on the podcast, not only because of her extensive knowledge and experience, but because she spoke with us about a very charged and sensitive issue with incredible compassion and patience.
Patti Quintero: We brought Kim on to talk about the alarming disparities in maternal health care for women of color. And we were profoundly enlightened and educated and humbled.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Kim pretty much schooled us. Many of you may have heard or read about the statistics affecting women and infants of color. Or perhaps you might even be one of those statistics and wondered, why is this still happening with the advancements of medicine today. But to actually dive into those answers requires some real soul searching, and a major history lesson for all of us. Kim humbled us in the most tender way possible.
Patti Quintero: These are the conversations that we want to be having at Under The Hood the kind where we come to the table together and we let go of our old programming and resentments, expectations and we get honest. We come willing to sit in the discomfort and we open our hearts to learn from one another. Let's dive in.
Patti Quintero: So let's start with a few statistics. One of them that says African-American women in the United States are four times more likely than their white counterparts to die during pregnancy and childbirth. Their babies are twice as likely to die in the first year than white babies and three times as likely to be born premature underweight which can eventually lead to a lifetime of health difficulties. While rates of home births and low risk pregnancies have experienced an uptick in recent years, the increase in home births are not occurring in all women. Instead the trend appears to be driven by primarily white women and white women are actually four times more likely to have a midwife assisted home birth than a woman of color.
Patti Quintero: And the last one which I know because you will soon be a midwife, less than 5 percent of midwives identify as black or Hispanic. And I know this is just a mouthful of information, but statistics that make me stutter a little bit in 2018 as I read damn.
Kim Durdin: Well that's because when Obama was president everybody thought racism went away. Hahaha. I mean the truth of the matter is there's so many things haven't really changed. Right now, maternal health is a focus. But actually people have been collecting data on maternal and infant mortality in communities of color for some time now.
Kim Durdin: Maybe it's like a watershed moment where lots more people are talking about it but I've been receiving data on maternal mortality and infant mortality for communities of color, since about the mid 2000s. I remember Amnesty International did a whole report and I myself was like, what? What what is going on. I was a bit insulated because I was working in a home birth community,.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Just thought the rest of the world was like this right.
Kim Durdin: I knew it wasn't, but I didn't really understand that there was this crisis going on. And one of my dear friends Jennie Josephs, who's an amazing amazing human being and a midwife in Florida. She's been a midwife for 30 plus years. She was trained in the UK. She's a black woman in Florida. If you don't know her name you should know her name. You're in the birth world and you don't know who Jennie Joseph is, then that actually shows us what the problem is. Because Jennie has been working to heal these numbers of infant and maternal mortality and morbidity for a very long time and nobody knows.
Kim Durdin: You know she's been getting more publicity in the last eight years. Christy Turlington has helped fund her through Every Mother Counts. And I think that's giving her some more notoriety. As a matter of fact she was just at the Vatican talking to the pope about this issue. But Jennie's been talking about this for years. And she created a clinic called the Easy Access Clinic in Florida that would deal with the problems that women, families were having getting care, just getting maternity care. Really she is one of my true she-roes because her work has changed the landscape. The women that come into her care do not die four times the rate. The babies, what does she call her babies–chunky babies. Majority of her babies are born full-term healthy, weighing well over what the average is for African-American women of color, because she was willing to see what the needs were, think outside the box and create a space where this could happen.
Kim Durdin: So you know I remember years ago when they were studying premature birth in African-American women and it really pissed me off, because you know a lot of researchers were like well maybe African-American women just have some special kind of gene that makes their babies come early. And I'm like you know what? You know, you know, you know what. I won't say it, it's you know it's like...
Kim Durdin: One of the things you mentioned and it got me giggling was what did you have about home birth in black women. Read that again.
Patti Quintero: It was a statistic that said that while rates of home births and low risk pregnancy have experienced an uptick in recent years so the increase in home births, it's not really occurring in all women.
Kim Durdin: Why do you think that is?
Aleks Evanguelidi: I would say it's probably cost prohibitive.
Kim Durdin: That's definitely one huge reason.
Patti Quintero: I mean I thought it was something to do with insurance and the backing that they're getting.
Kim Durdin: It's harder to find home birth covered by insurance we know that. If home birth midwives want to serve women of color or any person of color in a marginalized community, they better take Medical and Medical pays for shit. We all know that. But that's what it's going to take.
Aleks Evanguelidi: I think MediCal pays fourteen hundred.
Kim Durdin: For the prenatal and the birth and the post-partum
Aleks Evanguelidi: But look at the real numbers, a midwife make somewhere between four thousand and seven thousand to a home birth in Los Angeles.
Kim Durdin: Exactly.
Aleks Evanguelidi: So if your insurance will pay $1500, what midwife is going to take that?
Kim Durdin: Exactly.
Aleks Evanguelidi: It's actually hard to stay in business if you take MediCal.
Kim Durdin: So what that means. OK, here's a how to do it on your podcast. You have to have a facility, you have to have a birthing center so you can take a facility fee. You have to jump through the hoops of C H S P. I think that's what they call it, forgive me if I said the wrong names
Patti Quintero: What does that stand for?
Kim Durdin: I don't know. But it's another hoop you jump through. So there is a way to do it, however you also have to carry malpractice insurance, which a lot of home birth midwives, most home birth midwives do not carry because it's again it's cost prohibitive. But we can do it. It's being done right now.
Kim Durdin: There are birthing center home birth midwives CPM's in Los Angeles a few that are taking MediCal they have a facility and other places in California but it's a lot of hoop jumping it's a lot of work. That said where did you first learn about midwifery Patti?
Patti Quintero: When I was about to have my children and I had them here in Los Angeles and I wasn't something that I heard positive things about. I remember someone talking about it and I think it was a traumatizing story so when I thought oh I should maybe do a home birth. I didn't have I don't feel like I was in a community that supported it and so I chose hospital birth. And I had wonderful experiences and until I was a birth worker did I realize what really was going on in a lot of those hospital births. And it wasn't until then I got to be at a home birth and realize I want to try this I want to do this this way. I can't even express at a very deep intuitive level it's so deep ingrained and an ancestral lineage for me. I'm Colombian, but even my mother didn't know about it. I think it was the thing also I think as an upper class thing it was like you go to a hospital.
Kim Durdin: Right.
Again it was a classist thing.
Kim Durdin: Exactly. One last question. Who was the first midwife you ever heard about out there in the world when you started doing some research? Who the first midwife you heard about?
Patti Quintero: I had heard about Ina May.
Kim Durdin: Okay great. Thank you. Aleks, your turn.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Yes Kim!
Kim Durdin: When did you hear about midwifery, when did you when did it come to your view.
Aleks Evanguelidi: It was reading The Red Tent. So I was reading this book sobbing at every birth
Kim Durdin: You know it's fiction right?
Aleks Evanguelidi: Yeah. But it's-.
Kim Durdin: I've always wanted to say that to you.
Aleks Evanguelidi: But it's real to me! Real in my heart and and it woke something up in me and I was like, wait a second, and is this still happening? And I started researching on the internet. I was like where are - midwives are alive and well. There was a program at USC at the time and I was like oh, maybe I should consider shelling out $150 thou-. No I'm not going to do that. What else are my other options. And I became a Doula first just to kind of put my toe in the water because that was like you know a few weeks instead of a few years.
Kim Durdin: OK. And then who was the first like midwife out there that you heard of and you were like, Oh wow that's a Midwife.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Well my preceptor. OK. Constance Rock.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Okay cool. So you had like a real life person you could touch you wasn't a you know mythological creature.
Aleks Evanguelidi: She was me.
Kim Durdin: Cool cool. OK. So the reason I ask you that question is because, I love that you said that for you Patti, that there was some kind of ancestral intuitive knowing that midwifery was something like in you, or something that you needed to be a part of, or something you just kind of felt like I need to know what that is and have a piece of that and be a part of that.
Kim Durdin: And I felt very much the same way throughout my life. I didn't really know about midwives, but once I found out about them and when I was pregnant with my first child I sought out midwives. I don't know why I sought out midwives. I just sought out midwives. I just thought like, yeah that's how I want to have my baby. That said Ina May Gaskin who you mention for many of us is the woman that we think of and she is called the grandmother of modern midwifery in the United States. And when did she show up on the planet in midwifery like what, what year?
Patti Quintero: I mean I think it was late 60s.
Kim Durdin: Late 60s early 70s right. So interestingly enough as I did more research, speaking about ancestral knowledge, I started hearing about black midwives from the South. And if you want to check out some interesting flicks there is a documentary called All My Babies. And there's another one that you can look at on Vimeo. It's put out by Diane Paul, who's a birth advocate. She did a documentary on a woman named Miss Margaret. They were able to capture her talking about her life as a midwife in Alabama a couple of years before she died. For most of us we've heard of Ina May, but who we haven't heard of are the thousands, not hundreds, not handful. There are thousands of midwives of color in the American South. Up until the 1940s, 1950s. And around that time they started getting systematically wiped out. Why?
Kim Durdin: Because the OB's, wanted to come in and take that business. They came in with Medicaid, that system and they started wiping out these midwives, through laws that told them either they had to become a certified nurse midwife. We might be talking about women who've been, they've delivered 2000 3000 4000 babies. They've done it in a traditional method, maybe they've also gotten some training through the state, because the state used to train a lot of the midwives as well because they caught everybody's baby. So there was training involved.
Kim Durdin: But you know, laws came into effect that said well if you don't get this type of training or you don't become a certified nurse midwife or you don't do this or you don't do that then guess what. You can't be a midwife anymore. It doesn't matter if you've delivered 5000 babies. Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter if you serve the poor. Doesn't matter if you walk through mud to people's houses that don't have a way to get any other place to have their baby. Doesn't matter. You're out.
Kim Durdin: And that's what happened to these midwives. We had thousands. So what is that doing in your body right now?
Patti Quintero: Can you see my face. I'm getting smaller and smaller like curling up into a ball because-.
Kim Durdin: But what I want to say, I' don't want to interrupt you but I do want to say this because I will forget, is that around the time that they were pretty much wiped out, became the rise of Ina May. Early 70s, they were gone. They had been wiped out. Now here comes Ina May. And God Bless Ina May.
Kim Durdin: I love Ina May, just like everybody else. But I just find it interesting that in our country, first of all we don't know our history. Second of all we have short memories and we think Ina May created midwifery? Give me a break. She did not. She came up on a tradition that has been here since the beginning of time. And in our country black women did a lot of that work.
Kim Durdin: I mean think about the climate in the South. Think about racism, watch some of these documentaries on James Baldwin. "I Am Not Your Negro." Watch the new documentary that just came out on PBS about Dr. Martin Luther King. This happened in our lifetime. Huge amounts of racism. The huge amount of systemic oppression. We don't even have to talk about black people let's talk about Latin women. At USC, the place that has a midwifery program right. They had a sterilization program for Latina women. When they came into the hospital to birth their babies, they sterilized them and the women didn't know that they were being sterilized. And this happened in our lifetime. So our frame of reference is so small. Like why aren't there more African-American and Hispanic midwives? Because our preceptors, our teachers are traditional healers were taken away from us. They were told that if they were to practice or to catch babies they were going to get put in jail. And what I look at back in the day, like my grandmother had eight kids and so bigger families were common. And who was catching the babies of these bigger families? So we were in many ways. We have a lot less but we were able to still birth many children.
Kim Durdin: Not all the time. Not every child lived. Not everybody was super healthy. I'm not going to go down that road. But I'm saying that people were having eight nine and 10 children that lived and grew into adulthood and whatnot and they were delivered by midwives. They were delivered by the lady in the community that delivered the babies. Maybe she wasn't even called a midwife. She was just the one you went to. Right.
Kim Durdin: So when I look back I kind of feel like this is another way to sterilize people. If you take away their community health care because that's all the midwife was, was a community health worker she didn't just catch babies. She helped heal the family. She helped take care of sick children. She helped take care of sick partners all of that. And so if that system is working, why would you take it away? So in one of the stories that Miss Margaret talks about, she talks about when they told her she had to stop practicing or else she would get put in jail.
Kim Durdin: And she said the closest hospital for the people in her community to go to in Alabama was 300 miles away. And we're talking about a community where people don't really have cars. Not everybody. There's not like three or four cars sitting in the driveway. Maybe you have a car maybe you don't because Miss Mary talks about her walking to people's houses to catch their baby. So now Miss Mary is not coming to your house. You got to drive 300 miles away to have your baby be born. Do you know what they used to do?
Kim Durdin: And this is in the documentary so you don't have to take my word for it. A hearse would be sent to pick up the laboring mother because most likely either she or her baby weren't going to make it.
Kim Durdin: Anyway can you imagine a hearse pulls up to take you to the hospital. I mean just think of the imagery. Just think of the fright just think of the terror. And so it's funny, because you look at Alabama today and they have a strong advocacy organization and I think it's called Better Birth Alabama. Forgive me if I said it wrong. But you could probably go on the internet and find out what it is. They're really fighting to make home birth legal in Alabama because home birth midwives are illegal in Alabama. You must be a CNM. And I believe as of last count in the whole state of Alabama there is like less than 11 certified nurse midwives.
Patti Quintero: Wow.
Kim Durdin: They also have one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates and one of the lowest breastfeeding rates. So why don't we have more black midwives? You know why don't we have more Latin midwives? Our teachers are gone. You know and we've lost generations of midwives. So that's why we don't have them right now. You know it's really important that we reclaim that. But you know it's a lot of work.
Aleks Evanguelidi: So Kim, you bring up so many good points in talking about systemic racism. You're talking about your culture your heritage having been annihilated. Do you think that maybe there's some kind of imprinting here that has affected women of color?
Kim Durdin: Yes. Because it affects me. I have six children. I have two beautiful sons, four daughters. I have three grandchildren. A grandson who's 5 and twin grandbabies who were nine months old. And my kids are black. Okay. So in particular, my sons. It's frightening. It's just frightening. I don't live in fear but I just you know it's like how do you tell your kid well actually, you know you're your 13 year old. Actually I don't want you to walk to the corner store. You're 13 you want to have a little freedom you want to- How do you tell your kid. I don't want you to ride your bike in this neighborhood. Is that imprinted?
Kim Durdin: I mean I don't know what's happening but I know that I have to have my own ways of managing the things that I see everyday. Again when you talk about social media it's great. But you know when I saw Philando Castile's girlfriend and their daughter in the back of the police car after her man got shot point blank and they're being held in the back of the police car and the 4 year old daughter is comforting her mother and her mother was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car. They didn't do anything wrong. They just witness the patriarch of their family shot and killed in cold blood right in front of them. If I lay in my bed and I scroll through and that video pops up. I'm done. I'm done. Can't at that. And it's not something that just goes away. It may leave me feeling depressed for weeks and that's just one thing.
Kim Durdin: But I still got to get up. I still got to go to work. I still have to see my mommas, I still got to be my children get people to school and so there is a lot of internalized stuff that we have to deal with on a daily basis that if we talked about it all the time we probably wouldn't get out of the bed, and some of us aren't getting out the bed because it's just it's just really really heavy. It's incredibly heavy. But we still have to go to work. We still have to pay our bills. We still gotta you know function in this world.
Patti Quintero: This term weathering.
Kim Durdin: Yeah. Everybody talks about that. This is like the third or fourth and people are like really interested in the weathering aspect of our genes, and I mean yeah. That's there, I don't know what anybody's going to do about it. To be honest with you all I want to tell you about solutions. OK. I want to talk about solutions because I am frustrated with us talking about the numbers but no one coming up with solutions. My friend and business partner Allegra Hill who is a certified professional midwife and a lactation consultant and I were at a - check this out. We went to the midwives Alliance of North America Conference. Great. I'm a student midwife, she's a midwife. This is a conference for the midwives of North America. We should all go right.
Kim Durdin: Typically we can't go because we can't afford to go. So MANA figured out after listening to the voices of women of color, people of color who want to be midwives and all that kind of stuff. They listen to our voices and we say we can't go to your stupid conference because we don't have the money. We are living hand-to-mouth. We don't have that extra disposable cash. No we can't fly to East bumble fuck to go to your conference for eight days and take off work and pay for that. We can't do it. We're not coming.
Kim Durdin: So they listened and they said We're gonna offer scholarships. Fantastick, so like this past year in Long Beach, California they offered a lot of good scholarships and some partial scholarships and so out we came all folks of color who were involved in the midwifery world and we came and we were vocal which pissed some people off. It was almost like I don't to say it pissed MANA off. They wanted to hear that. But there were people there, that had been coming to these conferences for years. The old guard, that were like, who let the animals out of the cage.
Kim Durdin: I mean they, there was there was at times you could feel this kind of negative energy towards the participants who were there. We're talking about non gender conforming folks. We're talking about indigenous folks we're talking about black and brown folks that came out and they were speaking out. So we were looked at as kind of like ingrates. But we had important work to do we had important messages to give. Any way almost every other session was about maternal mortality infant mortality in black and brown communities.
Kim Durdin: And I don't know, just Allegra and I at some point we just looked at each other and I'm like you know if I hear one more session talking about how everybody's dying and nobody comes up with any solutions you know I'm done. I'm done with hearing about that. So you know we decided at that time to to do something and to create a foundation.
Kim Durdin: So we started a nonprofit called the Birthing People Foundation where we are raising money so that we can train more birth workers of color because that's part of the issue. We need more than 5 percent black and brown midwives. We need more. But we need money to do that. So we started this foundation to train doulas to train birth workers to help people who wanted to become midwives to provide scholarships to provide stipends for these folks when they go out and become a doula let's say. If they're a Doula serving an underserved community. No they're not getting paid twenty five hundred dollars from that client who's got food stamps and is living hand-to-mouth or maybe couchsurfing. They're not going to get a full fee. Fortunately there's been some efforts to bring doulas to underserved communities. But number one the doulas need to look like the people they're serving. Number two we can't do it for free because how so. Aleks How was the longest you've ever been at a birth.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Three days.
Kim Durdin: Three days.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Yes three days. No showers no shower.
Kim Durdin: So what if you're that Doula that it just happens to be a three day birth and you're not getting paid. So who pays for your childcare. Who pays for your gas. How do you pay for your parking meters. You know how do you feed yourself. How do you.
Kim Durdin: It's impossible and that's the effort that had been made in the past. Yeah we're going to train all these black and brown people to be Doulas but they really do everything for free. No that doesn't work. So our foundation is also raising money so that we can provide doulas with money so that they can Doula for free but they're going to actually get paid for their efforts because they're working people too.
Kim Durdin: So we decided that we were going to do something about it. And all I'm about right now is solutions. We know how to solve this problem. People just need to do it. This amazing amazing amazing like supersmart woman named Sara Svati Vedum I'm given her a huge shout out because she has always blown my mind.
Kim Durdin: I remember years ago I was at a MANA conference and she had this little table in the back and she was trying to create something her intention was to create something called the home births summit. She wants to bring together home birth providers with OB'S with nurses and create a summit where everybody got together and created like a consensus on to like as to what is the rights of the birthing person wherever they give birth.
Kim Durdin: And that was her brainchild and I thought it was so fantastic. And like I said she had this little tiny table in the corner and no one was paying her any attention. And she's just worked at it worked at it. Worked at it. So by the way her birth summit has has now she's done at least three times she's collected all the data from the summits she's done.
Kim Durdin: I'm telling you she's super smart person. She's one of those like her brain is like better than your computer that you have here in your studio. She's amazing. So she collected all this data and when we went to the MANA conference this year she was a keynote speaker. She presented the data that she has been collecting for the past ten years and it blew anybody who was a thinking person it blew their mind.
Kim Durdin: So what she presented I'm going to tell you where you can go find it. It's the birth lab dot org. What she found out. Well first of all she did. She collected data on how women felt they were treated in the birthplace wherever they gave birth. So she did a whole long questionnaire on whether or not they felt like their wishes were respected when they were birthing and all that sort of thing. And she collected that data. Of course black and brown women from marginalized communities I should say people from marginalized communities felt that they were disrespected the most right like they had the highest numbers of disrespect and disregard and and dissatisfaction with their birthing experience. Another thing she did was she collected data around the United States to find out where midwives were more integrated into the system all the way to the places where midwives are not integrated into the mainstream birthing system. So she collected all that data when you go to the birth lab dot org you'll see it there is very visual is laid out beautifully.
Kim Durdin: But what she found out what she discovered was that in places around the United States where midwifery care is integrated into the mainstream system they have the lowest rates of infant mortality the lowest rates of maternal mortality across all races. OK? DUH.
Kim Durdin: And the places that have no midwifery care integrated into their system, they have the highest rates of infant mortality, the highest rate of maternal mortality. Guess what. Where there are no midwives integrated in the system. What states do you think they are. They are the exact states that the black midwives were outlawed in the United States in the 50s 60s 70s in those same places where they erased the midwives. It was replaced with death with sickness with illness with breakdown with despair. And we have to change that. People like this woman Sarah Svati has done all the work for us. It's there for us to see in black and white in actually in color. We can see it. And so now we have to take this data and we have to do something about it.
Patti Quintero: I mean it's fascinating because this is not what most people hear. One of the first things is like homebirth no because I want to be safe in the hospital. That's the common thing that you'll hear even. You know. I remember I think even you know with Chelsea it was like when you're in a class and you say I'm going to do homebirth there's a little bit of feeling like or as everyone looking at me like I'm putting myself and my my child in danger.
Kim Durdin: Right.
Patti Quintero: Because these facts have been hidden and.
Kim Durdin: Exactly.
Patti Quintero: -Misconstrued over the years right.
Kim Durdin: Well there was a campaign to wipe out midwifes.
Aleks Evanguelidi: It's still going.
Kim Durdin: And it worked really well.
Aleks Evanguelidi: It's still going on.
Kim Durdin: It is still going on. And we have to I would say follow the money or follow the like why why were they wiped out?
Patti Quintero: Well I think the whole rupture of the village. I mean we're going back as you're saying to ancestral communities and the families doing all of this together and supporting each other and members of the family catching the babies and whatnot and supporting each other.
Kim Durdin: Well when you said try it make me think of the indigenous midwives in this whole movement that these are really amazing Indigenous women are working on to bring, to create birth centers in Indigenous communities because guess what. They're also outlawed. If you are a Native American person an Indigenous person you have to use the Indian Health Services which is a government run program. You have to use their services. So it's like OK we have medical care but like it's this medical care that is like colonized medical care like the people don't look like me or maybe they do but they're in the system. And then it is the same health system in the same agencies that also were involved in kidnapping our children. When we listen to the indigenous midwives at MANA. They were blowing our minds. We were in their snappin like we were at a poetry night because they were off the hook. Their experiences talking about how their parents talk about imprinting how their parents will talk about.
Kim Durdin: There was a time in our community where all the kids who were 12 13 years old didn't come home from school one day. And nobody told us where any of these kids were. Well they had gotten rounded up by I believe it was Indian Health Services to do some kind of vaccination or something that their parents did not give consent for like kids rounded up taken some place and then brought back.
Kim Durdin: And you know there were kidnappings. You can look at the indigenous folks in Canada where kids were kidnapped and brought to boarding schools where they were forbidden to speak their native tongue where their hair was cut. So again this is stuff that's happening in our lifetime in our parents lifetime and the Indigenous birthing practices have been pretty much wiped out. But there are these group of Indigenous midwives that are working really hard to create a birth center and they're getting funding. But the fighting that they have to go through to just bring this back because even the people in their community the leaders of their community that are also part of the system are like what'ss a birth center. Yeah you know what do you mean a midwife. It's like everybody is drinking has drank the Kool aid.
Patti Quintero: Yes. That good expression.
Kim Durdin: Honestly what I'm saying is that they can't even advocate for the well-being of their own community because they are they are in the system. People that look like them they're indigenous but they're in the system so you have to go and convince those folks the importance of why we need to bring this back.
Kim Durdin: And again I'm telling you for instance I'm telling you about the black midwives in the South and I have a deep connection with them because my family is from the South and I know that my grandfather who there's 12 or however many siblings that he had they were from the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina. In the dismal swamp, you better believe there is no hospital and you better believe there was no clinic. There's no birthing centers like you caught your baby, daddy caught his baby. I don't know how they did it but they did it.
Kim Durdin: And my grandmother was also from very southern part of Virginia. That is very very rural to this day. So I know that there's people in my family or friends who were caught by midwives and or just people that caught babies maybe they didnt have a name. So it's it's in my blood. But does the young lady that I meet in the WIC clinic know about that. Maybe, maybe not. Do other young black women know about the history of midwives, do their mothers know about it, do their grandmothers know about it? Probably not. We have been so westernised we've been so indoctrinated in the system and we've been told like this is the way you do it. We don't know anything else because nobody is teaching us. And I think it's for a reason.
Kim Durdin: So first it's like for me knowing more and knowing more my history and the history of how people have been born in this country has connected me. But many people don't know that. So they're just there just believing whatever they hear.
Patti Quintero: Well that's why I think Kim when you said Let's talk solutions. I do think a part of the solution is having an accurate history.
Kim Durdin: Yes.
Patti Quintero: Understanding the history even as a Colombian I don't know why I had to learn these things exactly because it wasn't passed on by my mom you know. So again I think that that's where it has to start. And this is why I did bring up social media I did bring up because these things are exposed more.
Kim Durdin: Exactly and because of social media we're seeing people who will put out like different histories of people for instance here in L.A. There is a midwife who is so famous in Los Angeles and so - they have a memorial to her in downtown L.A. Anybody know her name. That's your first history lesson.
Patti Quintero: I don't but I would I'm turning to to the midwife.
Kim Durdin: Her name is Biddy Mason. Biddy Mason. So that is homework for your audience. Look up Biddy Mason. There is a memorial to her in downtown L.A. Why. Why. She was very important midwife and she was a woman of color. So why don't we know this.
Patti Quintero: Because we're waiting for you to start a show so that we could all tune in to it and I'll be the first one.
Kim Durdin: I want to do that because that is really important for the voices to be heard.
Patti Quintero: For young people, like my daughter who's 14. Yes. If it wasn't that I was involved in this world. She wouldn't be learning all about her body and how she controls her body and all these things because it's our responsibility. Those of us who are involved in and with this plethora of knowledge that you bring to be able to to teach.
Kim Durdin: Well I mean thank you. But I also want to say that just on another level when folks ask questions like, Why aren't there more black midwives. It makes me laugh in a not funny way. It makes me laugh in an ironic way. Sure. Right. Because it's like why aren't there. Let's really dig deep and that's not to any fault of anyone here in this room. These things were designed for us not to know about why they were supposed to be swept under the rug.
Kim Durdin: Like when they got rid of these thousands of black midwives. This was not a big issue. No one was marching down the streets because their health care was getting taken away. You're talking about marginalized communities like who are just - like me. Like I just saw another black man get shot. And I see it replayed on social media and I still got to get up and go to work. Like these folks were surviving the best way they can and when their midwives got taken away from them what could they do about it? It's just so overwhelming it's just so interesting though because I know that we're coming back and I'll tell you in terms of talking about solutions those of us who have learned about our history and those of us who've connected with this kind of inner ancestral, something going on little knocking at the door that our ancestors are doing it in our spirits to wake us up.
Kim Durdin: And those of us who have like followed that calling to try to figure out what it is that we're seeking and have found it are working really hard to become midwives to become the healers of the community to train others. You know that's part of what I'm doing I mean I am struggling as a student midwife just like just like step by step like I will get there. But it is the drive is so deep because I know what's at stake. At the very end of the day at the very least I'm going to make sure that there's a whole bunch of other people trained up to also carry out this work. I'm 50 I'll be 53 this year you know and I'm like I hope that you know, I can practice for 10 years 20.
Kim Durdin: But the truth is we actually whatever work we're doing in the world we've got to also like reach down and reach over and train other people and pass on the knowledge and keep it growing and I believe that we're going to, we are increasing the numbers of Black and Latino and gender nonconforming and Indigenous midwives. We're definitely increasing.
Kim Durdin: But the truth of the matter is it's really hard for us because again when we look at the systems we don't have the wealth. We don't have sugar daddies sugar mommies we don't have - you have a sugar daddy right Aleks?
Aleks Evanguelidi: I'm looking for one.
Patti Quintero: I'm looking for one too.
Kim Durdin: I mean I hate to say it but it's true. Because when you look at the numbers it's true. I mean we just don't have the generational wealth that's what they call it.
Kim Durdin: But you know what. One of the big things in terms of generational wealth is just if your grandparents or your parents had a house that they could pass down to you. That's generational wealth. The majority of folks of color do not have that. So we're already at a deficit. We're just struggling struggling to put food on the table to pay our bills every month. And so now you want to be a midwife. So where do you go to get a scholarship for that.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Oh you can't even get college loans for Midwifery schools don't exist.
Kim Durdin: It's so hard to get money for this path. But not only the money. Then again who's going to pay your child care who's going to pay the bills while you're taking off to become a midwife while you're at the three day birth and then you call into your nine to five and tell em you got the flu. What do you do you do. I mean it is challenging.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Systems are set up.
Kim Durdin: It's not set up to support us.
Aleks Evanguelidi: You know I just get super inspired about something, I want to share it. So you know we get to have access inside of the birth experience of women's breakthroughs yeah. When we sit with a woman and she has her baby. That's the imprint. I can do this. I can do anything when I have that knowing in my body of how powerful I am. Absolutely. That's the imprint and that's what's been taken away from you.
Kim Durdin: Absolutely. Yeah. You got it. You answered your own question. I love that.
Kim Durdin: And that's what we help women reclaim when we can help create a safe space for them to birth in a powerful fashion. It's just like they step back into their power no matter what hue they are. They step into their power right. We see it all the time. Or a woman who didn't breast feed her three kids and she decides I'm going to breastfeed this last kid. And it's amazing experience. And she just wants to go and tell everybody you know. Yeah absolutely. I just wanna say something. I went recently a WIC program, Women Infants and Children program and I was asked to be speaker for the women who work in this program who work with the women in the community so the WIC clinic serves the Inglewood Crenshaw communities black and brown communities young moms. Their group is called CINNAMOMS breastfeeding peer counselors. And they're phenomenal. They are phenomenal this group of women just awesome, making such a great difference. We were all sitting in a room together I think goes about 20 of the counselors there. And I was there to inspire them somehow, as they started their new fiscal year. I was inspired to create a support group for them. So I did this like support group for them. I didn't lecture to them, I didn't give them the latest research and talk about everybody dying and I just said you know what y'all are out here in the front lines. I'm called to do a support group for you all today. So Spirit has been saying create a big circle for them all to sit in.
Kim Durdin: Like I like to do whenever I do my groups and there is these big heavy tables in the room and I'm like you know me talking in my head to spirit like there's some heavy tables in here. How we're going to do a circle on. Spirit was like, Make a circle. So we're going to move these tables everyone. So everyone worked together we the tables and it was funny because although they all worked in the same program I could feel like each of the table had like their little cliques because they had worked in different locations within the program.
Kim Durdin: So I got rid of the table covered all these big barriers and we made this big circle and I just started doing my work. And you know similar to what I would do in a mom's group. But I did it for them. And we had so many amazing breakthrough moments I mean people were crying. People were testifying. I mean there was a one woman who literally like broke down and started testifying praising God. I mean it was amazing. But what really struck me was how this room of 20 women of color, three to four of them had lost babies. In a group of 20 you have three to four infant deaths that goes to show you like how bad this problem is. And then what can we do to make a change.
Kim Durdin: One of the women has struggled and I saw her recently and you know she's looking for answers as to why these things happened and she's trying to take charge of her health. And she's looking for answers in western medicine in mainstream medicine. In mainstream medicine, in what she has access to. And of course no one has an answer for her. I can see that she's going further into depression because no one in mainstream medicine wherever her insurance takes her has an answer for her. Now wouldn't it be great we send her to Elliot Berlin. We sent her to this acupuncturist, we sent her here, we sent her there.
Patti Quintero: And to yoga.
Kim Durdin: That'd be great we great. I have a feeling that we heal this woman. But hello. Who's gonna pay for that. And so that is why it's so important that we really look at the issues, look at the lack of access and figure out wherever we are what we can do to create solutions and create more access.
Kim Durdin: I'm all about if you have money give us the money give us the money because that's what we're lacking. We have answers we have we have solutions we have.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Interests.
Kim Durdin: Interests we have a background we have history yeah.
Patti Quintero: You have the knowledge.
Kim Durdin: Right. So what we need is the funds.
Patti Quintero: Yeah.
Aleks Evanguelidi: So where again can people donate to this organization you started.
Kim Durdin: We have an organization that we started callled B irthing People Foundation. We do have a go fund me. We have a Web site called kindred space L.A. DOT com which is the home of our for profit business and also the home of our nonprofit arm. We are also beginning free Fridays. We're going to be doing a free prenatal sessions and free postpartum sessions in the afternoon and just dig into us and find out what we're doing.
Kim Durdin: You know what we're what we're doing is providing space for our business activities but also we are a training ground for Doulas that we're training women of color people of color that want to become birth workers. We had our first training in January it was amazing we had eight baby Doulas I like to call them that came through and many of them who hit the ground running. They are taking clients. I mean they're just they're ready.
Kim Durdin: And I told them I said this training doesn't make you a Dula doesn't make you a birth worker you already are that when you come to this training is to give you more information to give you more knowledge to give you more tools but you're already it. And that's what we have to remember and that at that I think I just want to leave that and that is the messages that we are given something given things we are given gifts.
Kim Durdin: Alex told me this when I was pregnant with that one my little daughter who's here in the studio being so nice and quiet.
Kim Durdin: Aleks reminded me that these little ones that we bring forth bring us gifts. That's what you told me Alex. And they bring gifts they are gifts they have gifts. We have gifts we came here with gifts. It doesn't. It's not the piece of paper. It's not the certificate. It's not the diploma. You are that thing and those certificates and diplomas they help you operate in the world. But what you are is innate. It's it's in you and it's not granted to you by somebody else. You understand what I mean.
Patti Quintero: 100 percent.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Agency.
Kim Durdin: Sovereignty. But it is just like knowing that we have what we have to do is stop looking outside of ourselves for validation of who we are. It's in us for the birth workers that's what I teach them and that's why when they leave the training they're ready because they're not thinking in their head I need 10 more certificates before I can be a real Doula. No it's like get out there and do it.
Patti Quintero: Right. It's in me. So what what would you say is the biggest piece of advice that you would give a woman of color has just found out she's pregnant.
Kim Durdin: I guess I would really encourage her to look within and to begin having a conversation with her unborn child. I would tell it to start there out I would actually have her just take time to stop her day take 30 minutes a day take 15 minutes a day to just connect with her child and just start that conversation understanding that that's a living fully conscious being within her.
Kim Durdin: When we're able to connect in with the being that we're that is gestating within us then we make great choices about rest. We make great choices about who we want to care for us etc. So that's why I would ask her to do first and then maybe second, I would say Are you considering using a midwife?
Patti Quintero: Beautiful, that puts such a smile on my face.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Kim I love you.
Kim Durdin: I love you too.
Patti Quintero: And I love everything you said and I am you. I'm just I'm I'm I'm honored to get to listen to all you have to share.
Kim Durdin: Thank you. Thanks for inviting me.
Aleks Evanguelidi: You're so lucky this is your momma here.
Patti Quintero: Say Goodnight.
Zuri: Good night.
Aleks Evanguelidi: For More information on Kim and the amazing work that she's doing please visit her Web site at Kimberly Durdin dot com.
Patti Quintero: You can also follow her at Kimberly Durdin and at the Kindred space Celaya on Instagram and on Facebook at boobie whisper.
Aleks Evanguelidi: If you're wondering how you can help, like we were after this conversation. Visit the go fund me page for the Birthing People Foundation. You can find the link on Kim's Web site and in the show notes for this episode and you can see all the other awesome things she's doing.
Patti Quintero: If you've enjoyed listening please share with your friends subscribe, rate and review where ever you get your podcasts.
Aleks Evanguelidi: And if you think there's something we should take under the hood please let us know. Maybe you or someone you think we should talk to. Head to our Web site. Under the Hood podcast dot com and send us your thoughts.
Patti Quintero: For more information on upcoming new episodes and upcoming events sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Instagram at under the hood underscore podcast.
Aleks Evanguelidi: Many thanks to our executive producer Chelsea Levy and to our producer Jennie Josephson for her editing and recording savvy.
Patti Quintero: We'll see you next time.