Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikia Lawson.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Nikia. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started birth work 21 years ago when I supported my sister during the labor of her 4th child. I was studying Physics & Engineering at the time & has no idea about birth work at all. After my sister’s labor & birth, she raved about how different the experience was & how supported she felt that time compared to the others. She suggested I become a labor supporter. At the time, I didn’t even know that existed. Once I had done my due-diligence, I realized that the term for such work is called a “doula.” I began my pursuit of doula work after that.
For years, I offered support to family, friends, church members & even strangers, just to be a part of the birth experience. It was life changing for me.
I left engineering & changed my major to social work. I got my bachelor’s degree in social work, then later obtained my master’s degree in counseling psychology.
When I moved home to Texas from Atlanta, I was approached by a community organization that was planning a program geared to offering labor & birth support to expectant African-American women in the community. I got on board with the organization & became a certified, community-based doula. I worked with countless expectant families during their birth experiences, learned a lot about doula care & how to serve the community…& I learned a lot about myself. The program lost funded after a couple years & the organization closed its doors.
Due to inquiry from the community, I decided to reignite the program & operate it myself as a community effort. So, now I own & operate The Natural Way Birthing Project as a resource to provide education, advocacy & support to expectant families in DFW to help bring awareness to the risks related to infant mortality & provide accessible resources to marginalized families do they can experience an empowered birth journey.
The program has been a fledging effort of mine for 4 years now, but finally in a position to rally impact change through free community childbirth classes, breastfeeding education & support and affordable doula care to those families in the metropolitan area that access our network.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has been paved, but rocky.
I started small with an offering of one free community childbirth class a month. I was offered free & sometimes affordable space to teach the class & community organizations, professional birth workers, hospital networks, & former clients would refer their expectant families to the class & that’s where connections were built.
Along the way, I had volunteers who supported my effort, but with all things organized & structured programming, plus consistency bring about measurable outcomes. I also created partnerships with other collaborators to assist with financing the smaller endeavors for education, advocacy & support.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time or resources to effectively implement the services to really impact the kind of change I’d really like to see happen with what is available from the community of support I seem to get.
So, lack of consistent classroom facilities & space to accommodate the growing demand for the free education classes posed a concern. There’s always the financial strain.
Because my program operated as an umbrella program, I am now seeking my own non-profit status and will be able to seek independent funding. And, human resources are scarce when you’re fledgling & funding is low.
We continue to persevere with community support, small offerings and donations, and a lot of desire to serve the community.
The Natural Way Birthing Project – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Natural Way Birthing Project is a community organization that focuses on education, advocacy, and support to bring awareness to & impact infant mortality I predominantly African-American expectant families throughout the DFW community.
We are known for & proud of offering affordable & free education resources to our community if families in the form of free community childbirth education class that happens once a month, except December.
There’s a pride in sharing information that is relevant & impacts change. If the information that gets shared in that one class helps empower a family to have the birth of their choice, then the work is done & worth it. I’m proud of the fact that families from every economic background, ethnic group, religion, age or status feel connected when they arrive to class & leave feeling educated & informed to make the best decisions for their birth.
It makes me proud that the content that’s being shared through my education efforts is actually changing birth outcomes, enabling families to trust themselves & rely on more than propagated information that keeps them fearful & disconnected.
I’m very proud if the fact that families, organizations & individuals are sharing this resource with others in the community because they find it valuable…that’s my greatest pride of all. The value is being shared & the return is healthy moms, healthy babies and empowered, satisfied birth experiences.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career, thus far, has been becoming the 1st African-American birth doula to obtain a private hospital contract offering doula care to its entire network of patients.
- $300-$500 serving all DFW.
- Website: www.thenaturalwaybp.org
- Phone: 8178419291
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: www.Facebook.com/Thenaturalwaybirthingprojectftworth
Velvet Sage Photography