Skip links

N.O.U.R.I.S.H. Program Year in Review: Reclaiming Our Brilliance, Birthright, and Joy

As we kick off World Doula Week (March 22-28), the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) is thrilled to celebrate the incredible impact of our N.O.U.R.I.S.H. (New Opportunity to Uncover our Resources, Intuition, Spirit and Healing) program’s inaugural year at Morgan State University. Launched in October 2022 with 44 students, this groundbreaking full-spectrum doula program has empowered 38 remarkable young women to become certified doulas and community birth workers.

Throughout the year, N.O.U.R.I.S.H. students embarked on a transformative journey, meeting once or twice a month for classes that delved deep into maternal health, holistic well-being, and community support. They were nourished by an ancient song only their wombs could hear, by the whispers of Granny midwives and healers who ushered them in generations ago, and by the sweetness of sassafras and tomorrow’s harvest.

One of the year’s most memorable moments was the Mother Shower hosted for a student who gave birth during the cohort, surrounded by the love and encouragement of her fellow N.O.U.R.I.S.H. sisters. This tight-knit sisterhood was a recurring theme, with students describing the program as a space where they felt “protected and at peace.” As one student shared, “I will be able to take the information that I learned and save it for myself when I have children, as well as pass it along to others that I know who are expecting.” Another remarked, “It truly felt like a sisterhood was being created…It reminded me how nurturing Black women truly are.”

Throughout the year, the influence of N.O.U.R.I.S.H. reached beyond educational settings, with graduates now actively supporting birthing families across Baltimore, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. They’re poised to complete their doula certification by April 2024, showcasing the program’s profound impact through their testimonials.

Maryland’s birth workforce ranks 45th in maternal mortality, highlighting a dire need for more doulas to make birth support both accessible and affordable in Baltimore. By their certification, our doulas aim to assist over 100 families, having already facilitated full-term, vaginal, and healthy births with positive outcomes for mothers and babies. This includes lower c-section rates and enhanced postpartum support and breastfeeding. These doulas are not only improving birth experiences within their communities but also paving the way for their future careers as healthcare professionals.
The inaugural year concluded with a heartwarming graduation ceremony at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, celebrating the 38 young women who completed the program. With an 86% retention rate, N.O.U.R.I.S.H.’s success is a testament to the dedication of the students, the expertise of the trainers, and the vision of the Black Women’s Health Imperative.

As we reflect on N.O.U.R.I.S.H.’s groundbreaking first year, we are inspired by the program’s ability to empower the next generation of Black maternal health leaders. Through education and ancestral memory, these young women have reclaimed their brilliance, birthright, and joy. They are nourished with the seeds to manifest their destiny, and we look forward to the continued growth and impact of this vital initiative in the years to come.

Watch the powerful poem that encapsulates the essence of the N.O.U.R.I.S.H. program: