An analysis from the National Center for Health Analysis of data from the Virginia Center for Statistics shows that between 2018 and 2021, 113 women in Virginia died as a result of pregnancy-related causes — a rate of 29.1 per 100,000 births.
The data also shows that for Black women, the maternal mortality rate was 55.0 per 100,000 births, more than twice the rate for white women. Disturbing statistics like these are what caught the attention of Racha Tahani Lawler-Queen to become a health entrepreneur.
She is a licensed midwife, a certified professional midwife, and a traditional midwife with over 20 years experience. She is the founder and owner of Gather Grounded Midwifery, the first and only Black-owned birth center in central Virginia.
The fourth-generation midwife turned entrepreneur’s facility has a birth cottage for those who want accessible out-of-hospital births or water births, according to a news release. It also has a healing room for physicals, lactation support, or supportive modalities that require privacy. What is more, it has facilities like a small kitchen, laundry room and the Freedom Birth Suite which contains a birth tub. Additionally, it has a family room where most of the appointments happen, which also doubles as a classroom.
Gather Grounded Midwifery also holds an “Expectant Parents Gathering” once a month to provide an opportunity for parents to tour the birth cottage and hear about traditional midwifery practices, the release said.
“Midwifery pre-dates medicine, and Black midwives, African midwives kept our communities safe until they were legally barred from doing so,” said Lawler-Queen. “The Black maternal health crisis has been upheld for all the years since Black midwives and the midwifery of our Ancestors was recognized as a threat against it.”
“Racha supported me in my first pregnancy during COVID and it was a 180 compared to the level of care and support i was receiving from my OBGYN. She spent time listening to me, answering my questions, softening my anxieties, and providing me and my baby the space to be held emotionally and psychologically,” said client Jeanine Rogers. “I feel safe in her care – while being wrapped in her knowledge of supporting Black women like myself, she is priceless, essential, and very necessary!”