Shades of Motherhood

To make childbirth a more healing, cultural and relational experience, Stephaine Courtney founded the Shades of Motherhood Network to primarily serve birthing people of African descent and people with children of color in Spokane County. The organization aims to bring awareness to Black maternal health as Black women have the highest childbirth mortality rate in the United States.

The organization does this in part through the creation of local art exhibits. This year, the Network hosted two art exhibits on Black Maternal Health at the Carl Maxey Center and Washington State University College of Nursing. Stephaine shares one of her experiences from the events, “We were able to put up over 49 stories of Black women in the community to share their experiences, their stories and empower them. As we were putting this art piece up, there was an older Black lady there who decided to hold one of the babies that we had with us, and she just started crying, and she said, ‘I just wish someone would have helped me. I just needed help.'”

After hearing stories from other mothers and personally experiencing being mistreated and feeling unseen during the birthing process, Stephaine organized the Shades of Motherhood Network so that people could be seen, heard and reconnected culturally with the African American way of postpartum traditions.

My vision is for Shades of Motherhood to be one of the leading spaces that is providing unlimited education, cultural-based education, and most importantly, restorative, healing postpartum care."

Along with educational trainings and art exhibits, the organization is certifying over 24 doulas of color in Spokane to empower and support mothers through a recent grant from Innovia and other funding partners. Doulas provide the emotional and educational support that birthing families need and help improve the coordination of medical care. The grant from Innovia is also being used to run workshops, trainings and other grassroot projects. Shades of Motherhood is committed to bringing the latest postpartum education to the Spokane Community and attended a national Maternal Health Conference in Houston, Texas this July.

Shades of Motherhood works to create an unapologetically Black space that helps all people in the community with the latest education on maternal health and Black American history, Black maternal art exhibits and hands-on care through their community doula program.

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