The theme for #BlackHistoryMonth 2022 is Black Health and Wellness, so ACNM is celebrating and honoring the contributions of Black midwives and their impact on the maternal health crises. This is Reneau House-Diallo’s story, an influential Black Midwife in Chicago who earned her doctorate in nursing at age 70. She was featured in Chicago Magazine’s article “Birthworkers Are on the Front Lines of Chicago’s Maternal Health Crisis” in 2019, in which ‘Mama Reneau’ recounts she chose to work at the Beloved Community Family Wellness Center in Englewood, Chicago, IL, in order to serve Black families like her own. When she began her career, Black people were not admitted to educational birthwork programs, but Reneau says “I told my grandmother when I was seven years old ‘I’m gonna deliver babies. I’m gonna be a midwife.’ And I’ve never looked back.”
My name is Reneau House-Diallo and I am a certified nurse-midwife. My journey in the care of women, first as an RN and then a nurse-midwife has spanned 47 years. My passion has always been providing care that improves the health of women/infant, especially within communities of color. My Master of Science thesis investigated Childbearing Practices of African American Women Across Three Generations. The study described culturally sensitive/ relevant practices and assimilation. While my DNP project explored The Advocacy Role of the Certified Nurse-Midwife in Improving Maternal Health in Haiti. My project received the DNP Scholarship Award.
I have worked in the private and public sectors and for years served as the supervisor of the midwifery practice at Cook County Bureau of Health, Provident Hospital. We worked diligently to improve outcomes in an underserved community. I have taught childbirth education classes, facilitated Centering groups improve the health of our moms; mentored and precepted nurse practitioner and midwifery students to enhance our profession. I have engaged with other birth workers in our community which includes enrolling community women in doula training. Currently I am working on a podcast that will address maternal mortality in the black community.
I am proud of many accomplishments including my artwork that was chosen for ACNM’s pamphlet Into the Light of Day. But my greatest accomplishments have been achieving good health outcomes for the women/families that I serve. I am honored with the affectionate title of “Mama Reneau” among my patients and Chicago’s birthing community.
Photos: Caroline Olsen/City Bureau
“We [midwives] have to advocate for ourselves. Nobody’s going to tell our story like we can. So we need to be out there, we need to publish, we need to … change the concept that midwifery care is second-class care.”
– Reneau House-Diallo, DNP, APN, CNM
for Chicago Magazine‘s article by Caroline Olsen