Birthing women of the Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) community are 3-6 times more likely to die from preventable birth related deaths, than their white birthing counterparts. Studies have shown that health outcomes are drastically better for the birthing community when overseen by midwifery care. It has also been shown that the BIPOC community has upwards of a 50% better health outcome, when overseen by a BIPOIC provider.
It is these facts that inspired Registered Nurse Courtney Stallworth to start The Equipped Mama™, a company that provides the tools for better birth & breastfeeding outcomes. Courtney started her business during the fall of 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, during which there was a skyrocket of the maternal-newborn mortality rates among the birthing community, especially among BIPOC women.
The Equipped Mama™ currently offers their Equipped To Birth course as well as Lactation Counseling sessions. Both services are available virtually or in-person. “I provide the birthing community with tools to overcome the statistics, and obtain the empowering birth story they desire, with a lactation journey they won’t want to stop,” explained Courtney.
Currently Middle Tennessee’s only Black-American Nursing Childbirth Educator, Courtney is also soon to be the state’s only Black American International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She is heavily involved in the birthing community virtually and locally through her business and social media presence. Courtney’s expertise can often be found on the social network Clubhouse, and partners often with local doulas and midwives.
Courtney, having been a maternal-newborn nurse for upwards of 7 years and seeing the devastating outcomes of all women, due to lack of knowledge & preparedness, sought to change this narrative by taking her clinical knowledge & holistic practice straight to the heart of the community. She believes through The Equipped Mama™ childbirth preparation course and lactation counseling, she can help the birthing community obtain healthy, informed, desirable outcomes.
To also raise awareness & provide a solution to the disparity among the BIPOC birthing community, she has launched the “Black & Birthy: Do No Harm” t-shirt campaign. Not only to raise awareness, but to propel the solution to the lack of diversity among the maternal healthcare field, through the Black and Birthy Scholarship, which is funded by 10% of sale proceeds and donations.
We asked Courtney if she could offer us 5 helpful tips to best prepare for birth; see the list below:
1. Choose your provider wisely! You want a caregiver that is in alignment with you and your birthing desires, and not just simply tolerant of them. Be open to consultations and meetings with providers beyond your OBGYN that you (or a family member) have been with. I highly recommend exploring Midwifery care, and meeting with at least 3 different providers before making your decision.
2. Register for a childbirth preparation course! Even if this is not your first pregnancy/birth, there are always new evidence-based practices being implemented. A quality childbirth education course will not only equip you with the latest labor tools and techniques for coping, but will also provide education to best position you for making informed decisions confidently along the way. I highly recommend our virtual or in-person, Equipped to Birth: Childbirth Preparation Course!
3. Build your team before the baby arrives! Compiling a list of all possible resources that you may need once the baby arrives, will significantly decrease the potential of unnecessary stress during the postpartum phase. Some great resources your list could included: Lactation Consultant, Pediatrician, Pelvic Floor Therapist, Hair Stylist, Chiropractor, Babysitter, Pediatric Dentist (specialized in Tongue Tie Release), Psychiatrist, Doula, etc.
4. Fear Clearing! This is a very important piece that I enjoy guiding couples through during our “Fear Clearing” segment in the Equipped to Birth: Childbirth Preparation Course. It’s pivotal to acknowledge and address any concerns or fears that you and your partner may have, and replacing them with factual/controllable alternatives. Doing so allows for the mind-body connection to work in unison peacefully once labor begins. As my experience has shown continually, a peace-filled woman, is a dilating woman.
5. Stay active doing things that you enjoy! Your body is growing a whole human being, and that can be quite tiring; rightfully so! However, it is important to maintain a healthy activity level in order to keep your body prepared for the labor work ahead, and a swift postpartum recovery. Activity does not need to be extensive, and can be something you enjoy; the options are endless.
Be sure to stay connect with Courtney and stay up-to-date with The Equipped Mama™ by following on Instagram & Facebook @TheEquippedMama or join her email list at:
To help support Courtney’s mission to increase access to black midwives order a Black & Birthy T-shirt by visiting: www.bonfire.com/store/blackandbirthy.