Jennie Joseph On The Importance of Black Midwives

A Black woman nurse in pink scrubs with a net on her head listens to the heartbeat of a baby through a Black pregnant woman's stomach. Iwaria Inc./Unsplash

Jennie Joseph, a Black certified professional midwife, an educator, and a Time 2022 Woman of the Year, discusses her calling to midwifery, opening a midwifery school, advocating for certified professional midwives, and responding to the Black maternal mortality crisis. In addition to her clinical work, Joseph is a leader in the growing movement to make birthing safe for Black women. Joseph also addresses her work to develop a National Perinatal Task Force which will create a network of birth care providers that offer patient-focused, culturally congruent care.

“Treating her patients well is not the only reason that Joseph has become one of the pre-eminent advocates of—and a national role model for—midwifery in the U.S. Her philosophy, which she calls the “JJ Way,” is much more ambitious. It’s about leveraging the power of midwifery to support a pregnant person before and after they give birth, to draw on community-based care, and to avoid unnecessary interventions. And it’s about using those methods not only to provide the best possible care for individuals, but also to disrupt a system that Joseph says has led to racial and socio-economic disparities in maternal health care.”