Navigating Mothering The Mother: What Does That Look Like For Mothers Of Color?

February 19, 2020

The lost art of Mothering The Mother. 

Understanding this concept means that we have to first understand equity. That means understanding that ideas of support are different for different people with different types of access and needs. 

38% of mothers of color experience perinatal emotional complications like depression and anxiety. That is twice the percentage of white mothers. There are also 60% of women of color who do not receive any treatment, recommendations, or support services for perinatal complications. 
(source: Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for Women Of Color)

United States doctors are less likely to prescribe mental health and pain medication to black women based on the assumption that our experiences or levels are not the same as those of white women. 

This is important to know and understand when chatting about Mothering The Mother. We must remember to support the Whole - Ass - Mother. When we tap into this, we are talking a pretty huge deal about the mental spaces of mothers within the 4th trimester and beyond. Often we are told that things are 'all in our head' as if our mental spaces are not real places. This means that only when physical trauma and tragedy arises will the feelings or worries we have really get evaluated. 

So, let me just tell you that Feelings. Are. Facts. It took just a feeling to create physical acts of prejudice, racism, sexism, classicism, and more that curated the social and political climate that we currently navigate through. Navigating Mothering The Mother must include validating and supporting mothers of color's feelings and include a sense of cultural competency so that there is a clear understanding of how to interact and support. 

This type of competency has to include the Strong Black Woman stereotype within our culture both within black spaces and white spaces. We are deeply rooted and embedded in a culture that tells black women not to disclose their mental spaces and to be strong and dismiss these spaces. Cultural competency within the maternal mental health space has to include doing the work that goes way beyond the beauty of a mother and motherhood. 


So what does Mothering The Mother look like? 

  • Doula Support. 
  • Supportive Midwives. 
  • Support Groups geared toward creating an open dialogue about how mothers can become high-risk even after birth. 
  • Therapy & Therapists. 
  • Asking Questions. Asking open ended questions that allow the mother to think and explain and express exactly what it is they need and how they feel. 
  • Validation. No matter what, people's experiences may not be the same as those of mothers of color but acknowledging that and understanding that it does not have to erase their experience within the 4th trimester, it does complicate it when the same perinatal and maternal resources and spaces are not providing the same type of care for mothers who do not look like you. 


This is part of the discussion of our February 2020 virtual meeting: Mothering The Mother & Navigating the Deep Latch. Parts of this meeting will be available for view on our public Facebook Page

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