The History of Home Birth and Midwifery in America, featuring Sarahn Henderson

Episode Summary

Guest host Khetanya Henderson, a Glo instructor, interviews midwife Sarahn Henderson about the intentional act of home birth.

Episode Notes

In the segregated American South, Black women were not allowed to have their babies in white-run hospitals. Black women had their babies at home, assisted by midwives. 

Sarahn Henderson was called to the profession of midwifery in 1980. Curious to learn more about her profession and its history, she embarked on a research mission that took her to local libraries and archives of her local Department of Health in Georgia. 

As she read everything she could get her hands on, she soon discovered that the narrative inevitably told the story of the white midwife, rarely the Black midwife. But she dug deeper, and eventually viewed a documentary called “All My Babies,” directed and written by George C. Stoney. The film tells the story of “Miss Mary” Coley, a Black midwife in rural Georgia. Sponsored by the Georgia Department of Public Health, it explores the life and times of the “granny” midwife. 

In the interview with Khetanya, Sarahn Henderson illuminates the history of the granny midwife who delivered babies at home, outside the hospital system and away from the “medical industrial complex.” Every community had its midwife, who often went as far as her feet could take her, walking to get to a birth in a timely fashion.

Photo of Sarahn Henderson by Tabia Lisenbee-Parker


Sarahn Henderson on Facebook

Birth in the Tradition

Maternal Wellness Hikers on Facebook

Maternal Wellness Hikers on Instagram

TED Talk by Ina May Gaskin

Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Special Delivery by Rahima Baldwin

GLO classes:

Khetanya’s classes on Glo: