Nurturing Cultural Competency in Midwifery


In the bustling heart of the capital city, Midwife Sakina O’Uhuru is not just a practitioner; she is a force of change, a guardian of birth justice, and the founder of Gentle Spirit Birth Midwifery Service. 

With over 25 years of experience, Sakina’s commitment to improving the lives of women, especially those in marginalized communities, is a testament to her unwavering dedication. Her practice is not just a place for childbirth; it is a sanctuary where the voices of women are not only heard but valued and empowered.

Sakina’s journey into midwifery was fueled by a spiritual passion for birth justice. Her commitment to reducing maternal mortality rates became the cornerstone of her philosophy. In a world where statistics often overshadow individual experiences, Sakina’s mission is to combat the troubling trends and inequities in the reproductive and birth spaces.

A cornerstone of her practice rests on the idea of compassion, empathy, and empowerment; a concept she terms “trust currency.” 

“Building trust is one of the pillars of a successful labor birth journey. Your relationship with your client drives how you offer your care – the more you know about your client the better you can serve them,” O’Uhuru said. “It is one of the most important and valuable components of our practices.”

Gentle Spirit’s approach is grounded in the principle of individualized care. The understanding that every woman’s journey is unique forms the foundation of their practice. The team tailors their approach to meet the specific needs, desires, and cultural preferences of each patient. It’s an acknowledgment that the birthing experience is deeply personal, and Gentle Spirit is there to support people in defining and achieving it on their terms.

“The more I know, the better I can support you. You have to create that space so that people feel comfortable. It’s all about creating trust,” O’Uhuru said.

Being open about potential fears and concerns, and having the ability to share them with the midwife, according to O’Uhruru, is essential not only for the midwife but also for the patient in building that trust currency. 

When discussing the numerous health advantages of home births, O’Uhuru describes a system of what she calls “taking the temperature of the room”. Essentially, this means practitioners should provide space and time for others to speak their minds while using their eyes and ears to gain valuable information about their clients. 

“There’s so much you can assess just by listening – which means validating the voices of women, couples, families, people. In order to understand your patient, you have to take a history. That requires listening; I think we’ve forgotten the art of listening,” O’Uhuru said. “Before you even use your supplies – look, listen, feel.” 

Sakina’s commitment goes beyond the birthing room. She is equally dedicated to training and teaching the next generation of midwives through her program, “A Wombman’s Way: Warrior Midwife Training”; a step towards ensuring equitable healthcare access and positive outcomes for all. Contemplation of the program began around 2010 and materialized in 2020 – a decade-long endeavor that felt akin to realizing a dream or vision.

“It’s very meaningful to me to make sure we provide educational curriculums and programs where we can graduate more midwives. We know nationally and internationally that midwives positively impact birth outcomes,” O’Uhuru said.

Sakina emphasizes that midwives are renowned for reducing C-section and episiotomy rates, as well as lowering the incidence of low birth weight and postpartum depression. Additionally, midwifery contributes to higher breastfeeding rates and fosters stronger bonding, with Sakina attributing these advantages to the midwifery model. 

“The model is really based on connecting, listening, empowering, and respecting the physiological process,” O’Uhuru said. 

The two-year program has produced a total of seven graduates, with six set to participate in the upcoming ceremony set for January 14th, 2024 from 3 to 5 p.m; Brittany Curry, Tamara Etheridge, Kenyetta Garth, Lakesha Johnson, Tiffany Slade, and Welunda Finley.

O’Uhuru characterizes the program as both rigorous and meaningful, emphasizing its departure from dogmatism in favor of a more gracious approach compared to similar courses. Despite this shift, the program maintains high standards in delivering its services.

Warrior Midwife Training emphasizes cultural competency, community health midwifery, and the importance of nurturing connections with clients. Graduates emerge not only neonatal resuscitative and CPR certified but also as part of a sacred sister circle. This circle provides a supportive environment for students to connect, process the challenges of being young women and mothers, and build confidence in their roles.

“The importance of leaning on and building relationships with those individuals who are going to be practicing the same that you are; we create those spaces so they feel comfortable doing that,” O’Uhuru said. ”Now that we have more graduates, we are going to create an Alumni mentorship program.”

A key aspect of the training program is its emphasis on inclusivity and open-mindedness. Sakina emphasizes the importance of understanding and appreciating the diversity within the communities midwives serve. The program goes beyond imparting technical skills; it instills a mindset that recognizes and respects the unique needs of each individual.

As Gentle Spirit moves into a new office space, Sakina envisions it as a hub for community-based support groups, refresher courses, and training sessions. The focus is not just on the professional development of midwives but also on providing resources and spaces for former, current, and future clients. The office is located at 3747 Benson Drive in Raleigh. 

Midwifery services are more than a healthcare practice; it’s a transformative movement. O’Uhuru’s dedication to birth justice, maternal health, and culturally competent midwifery showcases the potent influence of personalized, gracious, and inclusive care. This practice serves as a living testament to the profound impact it can impart on individuals, communities, and the future landscape of midwifery.

As O’Uhuru states, “This is one of the oldest professions in the world and we’re continuing that legacy.”

For more details about O’Uhuru’s impactful midwifery services, visit the official websites at and Direct inquiries can be made by contacting 704-420-0424. 

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