Lorna Phillip is the Founder and CEO of Black Mamas Birth Village - the first UK community for Black mothers and mothers to be. The Black Mamas Birth Village provides relevant and relatable content to Black mothers while helping them to navigate the UK maternity and health system safely. Lorna herself is a healthcare graduate and experienced doula skilled in birth, pregnancy and post natal care, with an established history of doula mentoring and teaching.
Please tell us about your career
I trained as a birth & postpartum doula 11 years ago and since training, I've supported many, many expectant parents through pregnancy, birth and those first few mind-boggling weeks with their newborn babies. Some doulas describe themselves as birth geeks and immerse themselves in everything birth 24/7. I have an enormous amount of respect for birth (both the process and the birthing body) but I get my doula kick from seeing parents grow in confidence and self-belief as they totally own their birth experience. In this work, many of my clients were Black or Brown and I wanted to find a way to reach out to more Black mamas. Black birth outcomes are alarmingly poor in the UK; by providing relevant information and ongoing support, I wanted to help more Black mamas and their families negotiate the maternity system safely.
Now as founder of Black Mamas Birth Village, I seldom get to witness births first hand but I'm still invited to share the precious and sometimes tricky journey to birth with the mamas in our Birth Village community. Mamas who join the community can expect to feel supported and informed all the way through to parenthood and with Black birth being centred in all of the information that has been created and curated just for them.
Is it wrong to say I feel really proud of myself? From being written off as a single parent in my early 20's to successfully running a business that has a real impact on so many families lives, both short term and long term. In 2022, I was nominated and shortlisted for 2 business awards. I won one of the awards and was featured in a national magazine. All in the same year that I received my ADHD diagnosis at the fabulously grand age of 54.
Do you feel that your job/industry is a good fit for an ND woman?
Yes definitely. As we say in the doula world - there's a doula for every parent and vice versa. When supporting expectant parents, it's much more about being than doing. I feel I can be my authentic self which is really important for me and also the mamas and families that I serve. They want you for you, not somebody else. I have supported a fair few ND parents and it was most likely our neurodivergence that brought us together!
Giving up employment and transitioning into being fully self-employed was hugely significant to me. It's been a steep learning curve but I wouldn't change it for a thing. I remember the struggle of working for someone else, especially as a ND woman. The feeling of not fitting in, the restrictive rules and office politics. Ugh! I would struggle to go back to that life. In fact, going back is NOT an option. I wouldn't last a week!
How has being Neurodivergent shaped the direction of your career?
I received my diagnosis in my 50’s (ADHD) so it didn’t consciously shape my career but, looking back I can see how being me has taken me from being an unhappy employee- feeling restricted, micro-managed, steering clear of office ‘socials’ and feeling exhausted by the need to ‘keep-up’ with tedious work tasks, to being an autonomous CEO who gets the work done in her own way and in her own time. I’m free to bring my own special sauce into my work with Black parents-to-be, unapologetically and embracing the strengths and challenges that come from being neurodivergent in a largely neurotypical world.
What advice would you give to another Neurodivergent woman navigating their way through life?
I’m an ‘older’ Black woman and have only recently received my diagnosis. I felt very isolated and without community at first, but finding a fantastic coach/therapist and finding a group where the members look like me has been very affirming. My coach has really helped me to manage any challenges I have and I’d definitely recommend having a coach that you gel with and who gets you. I’ve recently discovered ADHD Babes on Twitter and they’ve created a space that feels safe and welcoming. There are a number of groups out there - find one that feels comfortable and where you can show up as yourself. Too often we feel we have to hide our true selves in order to get by, ideally your support network should be somewhere where you can be you, unapologetically. It’s wonderful that neurodivergent women are finally being recognised for who they are.