Ayo and Adrian Mack’s business Black Family Blueprint works with couples to repair Black families and help them heal from generational trauma. Ayo has been a doula since the early 2000s; when she had her first child, she saw her husband in a new light.
“He was there all the way through the whole birth, the labor, the delivery–just every aspect, extremely supportive, extremely intuitive in terms of being able to provide me some of the comforts that I needed and just support me in that process,” she said. “And so I told him, ‘I think we should see if there's some way that you could become a doula too, because you're really good at this.’”
Adrian agreed to become a doula, but with some reluctance.
“Being a doula historically - and currently - is primarily a woman's space, and you don't see men participating in any level on that,” he said. “I couldn't even imagine what that looked like.”
Now, after getting trained in perinatal education, Mack works with Black men to help them feel more mentally and emotionally connected to the birth experience.
“I think that as Black fathers become more intimately involved with the birthing process, prenatally and postnatally, then it helps them to reshape or reframe how they have been involved with that family-made process and the co-parenting experience,” Adrian reflected. “So it's a way of engaging fatherhood in a deeper way that allows Black men to really understand their role in the family makeup process.”
Ayo says getting fathers involved in the birth is good for the whole family, especially if the father feels comfortable enough to advocate on his partner’s behalf.
“The infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality rate amongst black women is the highest in the country,” said Ayo. “When we include fathers in the process of understanding pregnancy, labor and birth, and then also understanding what happens, or what can potentially happen in the postpartum process, it really drives towards better outcomes for black women. It gives black men space to feel empowered and have a voice for their family.”