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Pillars of Acadiana: Shatamia Webb

Educating and caring for those who are the most vulnerable
Baby Catcher
Posted at 4:52 AM, Feb 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-03 08:25:41-05

Louisiana's maternal mortality rate is the second highest in the Nation.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, African American women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes.

While steps have been made, it is still a problem impacting our communities.

A woman from right here in Acadiana is working to change these statistics by offering mothers an alternative to having a baby in a hospital.

Brittni Auzenne held her newborn baby girl while she sat and talked to me at The Baby Catcher in Lafayette. This is her second child, her first, a boy was born during Covid; it was a difficult time for the family.

"Our emotions were already high," Auzenne said.

Money, that seemed to be the root of so many problems when it comes to being able to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Auzenne said she did not feel that pressure.

"I was late in my pregnancy, but like I said before, I felt like there wasn't a push for money," Auzenne said. "It felt like a family."

Baby Catcher

Shatamia Webb, owner of The Baby Catcher, tended to Auzenne's every need despite her inability to pay right away.
"Compared to a doctor, just going to an appointment and they just go and see another patient. This feels like a family," Auzenne said.

"Do you feel seen and heard?" I asked.

"I felt heard," Auzenne echoed. "When I express a concern, I feel like she really cares instead of just coming up with an answer."

Webb grew up wanting to be a doctor.

She graduated from McNeese with a degree in biology. When it came to schooling, Webb said she knew that she did not want to go to school any longer.

"So, I came home, worked at a local lab and found out about the Midwifery program at SLCC," Webb said. "We were the first and last class, I finished in 2014, I finished all of my clinical's and became licensed in 2017."

Mid-wifery is the one of the oldest professions and a chance for Webb to work with women during and after pregnancy at a more personal level.

"We feel, as women, that we can do all and be all and it's difficult for us to vocalize that we need the help," Webb said. "We can't assume that people know that we need help, we have to ask for it."

As a black woman, Webb said she knew the high risks are higher for African American women.

Baby Catcher

"We're about four times more likely to have complications after we have our baby," Webb said. "Sometimes we're not heard; sometimes it has to do with the type of insurance to be honest. My biggest fear was that if I had to have a baby in the hospital, would I walk out of that hospital. I knew the statistics were stacked against me walking into that hospital. That's why I decided to have both my babies at home."

Many women feel rushed when at appointments, Webb said. Many are not able to get all of their questions answers and they feel a lack of compassion and understanding.

"I think having someone just listen to you, not necessarily just me but another midwife or doula or any other birth worker that can help you along your pregnancy journey."

While Webb gives each patient an hour and half, she does not always stick to that time frame. She said her patients take as much or as little time as they need.

"We try to get to the root of the problem and not throw medicine in their face. We try to adjust their lifestyles and eating habits to fix the issue," Webb said. "Some people that you're hiring your healthcare provide and they're working for you. You have to voice your concerns that you have. If you can't, you need your partner to advocate for you. Talk about that throughout your pregnancy to the things you do and don't want done. People think that you can't say no to things; you can say no to just about everything."

From dreams of becoming a medical doctor to shifting that focus just a bit, Shatamia is giving a voice to those who feel otherwise unheard and teaches them to speak up for their health and the health of their children.