Why She's Interesting: Farmer is on the front lines of Cleveland’s fight against infant mortality, particularly in the African-American community. In 2014, she founded a nonprofit that provides free doula care to help mothers through the birthing process.
The phone rings in Christin Farmer’s office. “How far along is she?” Farmer asks the midwife on the other end. An expectant mother, a young African-American woman, has just arrived at University Hospitals’ maternity ward alone.
It’s the second one in two days. Farmer hangs up and starts texting doulas on her cellphone. She hopes one will be free.
When doula work first piqued Farmer’s interest, she was 16. She saw a reality show featuring them and was fascinated by how calm and professional they were.
After a friend at Collinwood High School became pregnant, Farmer embraced her role as an unofficial doula, making sure her friend ate nutritious food and was well rested. Then, Farmer had an unexpected pregnancy herself while at Kent State University.
“I was 21 and I was afraid, naturally,” she says. “I was in my third year of college, and I was like, Oh shit, what am I going to do?”
She didn’t have access to a doula, but her friends, many of whom lived nearby, pitched in to help during the pregnancy, the birth and afterward. After graduating, landing a job at University Circle Inc. and getting doula training, Farmer realized that other mothers could benefit from the same sort of help her friends provided.
The need for nutrition help, transportation, birthing advice and counseling was great. In 2016, 128 babies died before seeing their first birthday in Cuyahoga County — 64 percent of them black.
In November 2014, Farmer launched Birthing Beautiful Communities with a small team of 10 doulas and began offering 80-week doula support for new moms — all for free. So far, Birthing Beautiful Communities has helped almost 250 families.
“It’s this village. We are not any different than the women we serve,” says Farmer. “We see ourselves in the women, and the women see themselves in us.”
Interesting Fact: Farmer’s Spotify playlists consist mostly of ’60s and ’80s rhythm and blues.