Childbirth International ‘s values are grounded in inclusivity, diversity, and sustainability.
Childbirth International’s core values have always included the goal of offering a learning platform that is welcoming, safe, and inclusive of all individuals. We strive to develop reflection and empathy so our students can interact in their community with dignity and respect for all people. We believe that every pregnant, birthing, and parenting individual has the same right to equitable, kind, and respectful care. We use inclusive language in all our courses and believe in the right for every individual to be treated with equity and kindness. CBI trainers have undergone professional development on using inclusive language and how to support all students, regardless of their gender identity, religious and spiritual beliefs, race, culture, and family structure.
We embrace and celebrate the diversity of humanity and continually seek out diverse perspectives. We recognize the importance of not having ethnocentric approaches to our training. We recognize the disparities in health care and outcomes for minority and marginalized groups and seek to be part of the solution in eliminating these through listening, understanding, dialogue, and education. We support the Black Lives Matter movement and actively seek out opportunities to educate ourselves and support grassroots organizations working to deconstruct the systemic disparities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
We are committed to social, cultural, environmental, financial, and personal sustainability and look for ways to minimize consumption of natural resources, support individuals in fostering healthy communities, and encourage a maintainable work/life integration through flexible employment and study arrangements.
Our courses are available in both an online format, and a printed format. Printed materials are printed on recycled paper. Our trainers work from home, reducing their use of limited resources. We support our trainers in maintaining a work-life balance that enables them to support their families while also carrying out the work they are so passionate about. All those working within CBI are paid above the minimum wage and their rates are increased every year above the level of inflation. Trainers have a Trainer Mentor to support them through their work and to support them emotionally when needed.
What is CBI Doing?
We recognize that birth and lactation services are predominantly offered and available to those who are White and have the financial means to afford these services. We also recognize that in order to have more marginalized and vulnerable families supported by birth and lactation professionals, the industry needs people from those same communities, where they understand the lived experiences of those who do not have equity. In order to support BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ birth and lactation professionals, we have supported and will continue to support, grassroots organizations that are best positioned to determine the needs of their communities. Rather than centering our own voices in the services and needs of marginalized communities, we ensure that our donations are used to support grassroots organizations, run by BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ groups, across the world. Some of the grassroots initiatives we have financially supported include Black Mamas Matter Alliance, the Chigamik Community Health Centre, and Birthing on Country.
“Black Mamas Matter Alliance is a Black women-led cross-sectoral alliance. We center Black mamas to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice” (quoted from the Black Mamas Matter Alliance website). In our drive to support Black-led initiatives working with birthing families, CBI contributed in 2020 toward their programs.
The Chigamik Community Health Centre is based in Ontario, Canada. Run through the Strong Women Strong Nations Project with the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) of Simcoe Muskoka they provide free doula services to First Nation, Métis, and Inuit families. Our contribution was given to support the free doula services they offer together with the training of First Nations doulas through their own training programs, ensuring that birth and lactation professionals are able to provide services delivered by First Nations people to First Nations people.
Birthing on Country is an Australian initiative to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to have their babies in a supportive, culturally safe, and respectful environment with a known midwife. In 2020, CBI contributed towards the initiative which is seeking to raise funds to build the program.
We will continue to identify organizations that are supporting diverse communities to financially contribute to.
Individuals from marginalized communities are invited to apply to CBI for a training scholarship. You can read more about CBI’s scholarships here.
CBI’s statement published on June 2nd, 2020
We stand in solidarity with our Black students and graduates, and people around the world against anti-Black racism. We support the movement of Black folks demanding justice and widespread systemic change.
It is not enough to not be racist. We must actively engage in the work of being anti-racist in our words, actions, and deeds. We need to recognize where our privileges exist and reflect on our actions as individuals and as an organization.
Childbirth International is a strong advocate for equitable and trauma-informed reproductive care. We are acutely aware of the disparities in the healthcare of Black pregnant, birthing, and breast/chestfeeding individuals. We will continue to educate ourselves on how systemic and medical racism impacts Black families and Black communities. Our course materials will be reviewed to ensure these issues are highlighted.
Today, we ask you, our international community of birth and lactation professionals, to educate yourselves on being anti-racist and holding the leaders and systems in your local community accountable for their actions and policies. We encourage those who are able to make a donation to your local Black Lives Matter chapter and to support local Black-owned small businesses. When we work together we can hold our leaders accountable and dismantle these racist and oppressive systems. Be safe.
Professional development for all our trainers is essential. Every member of our team participates in at least four professional development opportunities each year. Some of these are delivered in-house while for others we seek out external organizations with specialty experience and knowledge. All CBI trainers have been trained in using inclusive language, recognition of implicit bias, and understanding birth trauma and obstetric violence. In September 2020, CBI’s trainers attended the five-week virtual Stratagem conference on equity, inclusion, and social justice, hosted by Cicely Blain. In November 2020, our team participated in Birth Monopoly’s Know Your Rights course, which addresses human rights in childbirth. In 2021, we participated in a training program for doulas on cultural safety for Indigenous individuals run through The Chigamik Community Health Centre. In 2021, we engaged Collaborate Consulting to provide professional development for trainers in working with trans-individuals and understanding the issues they face in pregnancy and parenting through their Trans Birth for Birth Workers workshop and the Researching Trans Fertility webinar.
Childbirth International regularly has openings for new trainers. We have a diverse student and graduate body (30% of CBI’s students and graduates are BIPOC and our students and graduates are from 136 different countries). When we offer opportunities for new trainers to work with CBI, we prioritize applications from BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ CBI graduates.
It is important to us that our courses are accessible to as many people as possible. Throughout each course, we ensure that the materials can be read accurately by screen readers, and include images and tables to explain complex concepts. Students can submit their assignments in writing, or with audio or video. In introducing broad perspectives, we link to a wide range of web pages and strive to have these as videos or podcasts as much as possible. While our course materials do currently require reading, we are exploring ways that audio and video can be utilized to increase accessibility.
What Can You Do?
For birth and lactation professionals who are not part of a marginalized community and want to be part of the solution to dismantling systemic racism, bias, and discrimination, we encourage you to:
- Become aware of your language and strive to use inclusive language in your conversations and marketing materials.
- Examine words and phrases that you use that are inherently biased or harmful and replace them with inclusive and respectful language (e.g., transsexual replaced with transgender).
- Learn about gender diversity and the differences between gender identity, gender expression, anatomical sex, sexual attraction, and romantic attraction. The Genderbread Person is a great place to get an understanding of this.
- Reflect on your own implicit bias. Harvard University provides an excellent implicit bias tool which is a good starting place. Melanie Funchess’ TED Talk on Implicit Bias gives a good overview.
- Read books that highlight racial disparities and support anti-racism. Two good books to start with are Reproductive Injustice by Dána-Ain Davis and Battling Over Birth: Black Women and the Maternal Health Care Crisis by Julia Chinyere Oparah, Helen Arega, Dantia Hudson, Linda Jones, and Talita Oseguera.
- Read about disability and how it affects the way people are treated during pregnancy and childbirth. Disability in Pregnancy and Childbirth edited by Stella McKay-Moffat provides some good information.
- Use your social media profile to support the work of grassroots organizations that are seeking to eliminate disparities and raise awareness of the issues.
- Financially support organizations that offer training to BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ individuals if you are able to.
- Learn about intersectionality and how individuals who have intersecting disadvantages face increased levels of discrimination and bias. For example, an LGBTQIA2S+ individual who is also Black, a person of a heavier who also does not have safe housing, or a person with disabilities who is also experiencing intimate partner violence.
- Recognize how geography, poverty, and a lack of safe housing affects access to healthy food through food deserts and food swamps.
- Recognize how political, economic, and healthcare systems can be structured in a way that denies equitable access to marginalized and vulnerable communities.
- Don’t shy away from conversations where others talk about your privilege. If someone tells you that you have white privilege, for example, this is not an insult. It is an acknowledgment that you do not have to deal with bias and discrimination because of the color of your skin. You may have other things that you do have to deal with (e.g., gender discrimination, disability, poverty, or mental health problems) but your skin color is not one of them.
- Read blogs and watch talks and documentaries that highlight racism, discrimination, and bias. Ijeoma Oluo’s talk “So you want to talk about race” and Ibram X. Kendi’s interview “How to be an anti-racist” are good starting points. PBS has an excellent list of documentaries on racism.
- Spend a lot of time listening and seeking to understand, educating yourself, and not expecting people from marginalized communities to do this for you.
- Connect with people who don’t look like you.
- Speak up when you see discriminatory behavior.
- Welcome discomfort while you learn – rather than dismissing it, sit with it, and think about why it makes you uncomfortable.
- If you make a mistake, acknowledge it, apologize, and learn from it.
- When seeking out training or professional development, look at the policies and language used by the organization to determine whether they support diversity and inclusivity.
- Recognize and acknowledge that learning and reflection are ongoing lifelong processes. Cultural humility and providing culturally safe services are not something you can check a box and say you have achieved. It cannot be done in one course or conversation. You will always be learning.