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Vaginal Hospital Birth: Insight from a BLACK LABOR & DELIVERY NURSE & DOULA

Watch the full interview.

Who is A’briel Banks?

A’briel Banks is a 23-year old black woman, a new mother, a labor and deliver nurse, a doula, and a native of Marianna, Arkansas.

A’briel is also the co-founder of Melanin Maternity TV; A FACEBOOK GROUP that provides a space for expectant Black mothers to convene and share their journeys of birth through live video, while receiving support from other Black women around the world.

I’m more of a doula than a nurse…low intervention birth is always my goal.

Heart of a Doula; License as a Nurse

While A’briel values her professions, she admits there are some unique challenges that come with being a doula who is also a nurse:

At my hospital we don’t have wireless monitoring…so you have to stay within 4 feet of your bed…I know it’s not fun but…as a nurse I have [legal] responsibilities…that would literally…ruin my life if I didn’t uphold [them]. That’s difficult.

A’briel Banks; L&D Nurse/Doula

These medicines we give to induce your labor are potentially harmful to you and baby. There are so many risks associated; so I’m going to induce you, because that what you want, but I also need to make sure you and your baby stay alive; that your uterus is not rupturing because…[you’ve been given] too much Cytotec.

It’s hard balancing that because…I don’t want to take away your autonomy but at the end of the day…we gotta weigh the risk vs. benefits.

A’briel Banks; L&D Nurse/Doula

Why Share Her Birth Story?

Representation is important. I want black women to see other black women in these spaces. I have been operating in the birth world for quite some time and there is just not really a place for us…my best friend…was not super excited to share her birth story ever just because she didn’t feel it compared to other people’s birth stories who didn’t looked like her…I just want to put an end to that. “

A’briel Banks; L&D Nurse/Doula

Advantages of being a nurse & doula as a black birthing woman?

While A’briel had only been working on her unit as a labor and delivery nurse for 4 months, she says she had already been labeled the “crunchy” nurse and given the natural birthing patients. A’briel was blessed to labor and deliver in the hospital where she worked and was blessed with co-workers who thought of her birth outcome as much as she did.

A’briel says she trusted birth, her body, and her baby:

Even though I had this clinical experience and knew all the things that could go wrong, I also knew all the things that could go right.

A’briel Banks; L&D Nurse/Doula

A’briel at her baby shower

All The Things That Could Go Right

According to A’briel here are some Actions that can help birth go well:

“You know your body and your baby and we don’t know you. We do have knowledge that a lot of people don’t have but at the end of the day, holding on to your intuition is super important.”

A’briel Banks; L&D Nurse/Doula

A’briel’s Recommendations for Natural Hospital Birth


Even if your doctor is not “on call”, or the doctor delivering your baby at the time of your labor, having your doctor ‘have your back’ on paper, is really important. Other doctors are more likely to follow plans if they have proof your doctor approves of them.


If you come in natural we are out of your hair because we want to protect your head space to keep facilitating a physiological birth. We aren’t doing excessive cervical exams. We don’t have to worry about if you had an epidural and your blood pressure is really low so now your baby is distressed and now we have to flip you back and forth. We don’t do that. Laboring women are bears. Birth is wild and it should stay that way. So we don’t go poking the bear. You’re more likely to have the experience you want coming in after letting your body do most of the work at home.”

Type 2 Diabetes

“They want to induce you at 39 weeks if you’re a diabetic even if your levels are fine… [but] knowing that doesn’t have to happen is important…[you’ll be fine] if:

having a “too big” baby?

With type 2 diabetes there is a fear among doctors and nurses that mamas will have a baby that is too big to birth vaginally. However, A’briel maintains:

A big baby is also not a reason to be induced…a big baby is not an indication to have your baby early.”

A’briel Banks; L&D Nurse/Doula

“Unless there [are] some…anomalies going on with your pelvis, you usually don’t know that your baby is too big to fit through…until the baby tries…so don’t let anyone tell you at 32 weeks that your baby isn’t going to come through your body…just trust that if you’re doing what you’re supposed to [do] to treat your body…in the healthiest way you know how then trust that. Lean on that.”

A’briel’s Pregnancy & Birth

“I reached down and pulled her out myself.”

A’briel Banks; L&D Nurse/Doula

A’briel’s Pregnancy:

A’briel’s Labor:

I’m definitely more confident [now] when I tell [patients] ‘you can do this’…and I feel good being able to tell them I did this so it’s possible for [them]…I also know exactly where their head is when they are trying to go natural and they are being induced [with Pitocin].

A’briel Banks; L&D Nurse/Doula

New Insight As A Nurse

While A’briel’s says she has always been an advocate for her patients, she has gained deeper insight of what birthing black women experience in hospitals and wants her professional community to understand the part they play in black maternal health outcomes.

…low intervention…hasn’t been hard to navigate, it’s…getting doctors to believe and appropriately treat [black] women.

A’briel Banks; L&D Nurse/Doula

In the hospital I moved to, people would come in and they…automatically…lost before they even started…because of how people felt about them because of how they looked…moms…would come in…addicted to some substance and they were already counted out and that heavily influences the way their birth turns out.

A’briel Banks; L&D Nurse/Doula

Her advice to other nurses?

DROP YOUR BIASES. They don’t serve anyone.

You can follow more of A’briel’s journey as a new mother on INSTAGRAM: @naturallybri__

You can also join her FACEBOOK GROUP, Melanin Maternity TV, a group that provides a space for expectant Black mothers to convene and share their journeys with birth through live video, while receiving support from other Black women around the world.

3 responses to “Vaginal Hospital Birth: Insight from a BLACK LABOR & DELIVERY NURSE & DOULA”

  1. Great, this should be available all over.

     “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

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