We may know Erykah Badu for her soulful and soothing vocals, but it seems as though she has a few other hidden talents up her sleeve. The Dallas native is a huge advocate for home-birthing, and after delivering all three of her children at home, she became a doula --providing physical, emotional and informative support to over 40 mothers and counting.
You see, not only is Erykah a doula, she also plays music for nursing home patients nearing their final days. Or, as she puts it, she's part of both the "welcoming and ushering committees." Here are a few interesting facts about Erykah Badoula's training as a midwife that you may not have known:
Erykah became a doula by default.
"I became a doula by default. I had Seven naturally, at home, and a couple of years later I was traveling through Europe, and one of my best friends, Afya, who is the wife of stic.man from dead prez, went into labor. I just wanted to be there with her, so I rerouted my flights and came to Brooklyn. She had already been in labor for about 10 hours, and the whole labor ended up lasting 52 hours. No anesthesia, just pure willpower and whatever else the midwife who was there had to offer.
"My main focus at that moment was to bring her some kind of peace and strength and will to push forward, because I know how hard that is. I ended up staying with her for 42 hours and I wasn't sleepy. I naturally knew what to do, and it was then that I figured out that this was something I can do that makes me feel so fulfilled."
She is considering opening her own practice.
"...We don't know where these babies are coming from—their souls, or their spirits of mind, or if they're born wholly as soon as they get here—but whatever it is, I just want the environment to be one of tranquility for the mom and dad and everyone involved. A home birth is about being able to create exactly what you want, because it's such a violent moment inside of the body that you want everything else to be as beautiful as it can be. So I started studying to be a doula and got my certification in 2011 and now I'm in training to become a midwife. I'm almost there and before I know it I'll be able to open my own practice, if that's what I desire."
Erykah is part of the 'ushering committee'.
"...I sit at the bedsides of people who are passing on in hospices or nursing homes, for the people and families who want that kind of thing. When people are going on to the next plateau of whatever this thing is called life, I also want them to breathe easily, even if it's the last one they take here with us. I guess I'm the welcoming committee and ushering committee."
She takes two different approaches to welcoming life, and helping someone come to terms with death.
"Whereas I want everything to be peaceful during a birth, I take the total opposite approach when I'm helping someone come to terms with leaving this place—I play Richard Pryor records. [laughs] Breathing becomes really easy when you're laughing. It kick starts that feeling of joy, and I keep it going from there and help them remember things that are fun and help them forgive themselves and others. Sometimes their families are not present because they have not come to terms with the fact that they may never see their loved one again. So I make calls for them and let the children know that maybe this is a really good time to come hang out and talk and learn from this soul before they leave; I just know I wouldn't want to be alone and afraid at that time."
Erykah performs in nursing homes.
"Naturally. I just wandered into a nursing home one day after I dropped my daughter off at dance class. I've done this kind of stuff since I was a kid; they usually have a piano in every nursing home, and I always wanted to perform for whoever would listen when I learned something. I grew to understand very early that a lot of these people who are in nursing homes are elderly and don't have a lot of things that give them joy from day to day. But when I would come and play as a young person, they would just be so excited to see me. I would think, 'Wow, this is important work that I'm doing here.' So I just carried that on into adulthood up to now."
That Erykah and her many talents!
Catch more information about Erykah's midwife work over at Pitchfork.
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