Tayo Mbande
January 3, 2023
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

Tayo Mbande

Changemaker: Tayo Mbande, Chicago Birthworks Collective

Overall, the birthing experience can be intense, both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, women of color are three times more likely to face complications than their white counterparts. Doulas, professionals who provide guidance and support for mom and baby, have become widely requested to serve as healthcare advocates to avoid these complications.

Tayo Mbande, a doula, breastfeeding peer counselor, and co-founder of Chicago Birthworks Collective, is working to improve birth and postpartum experiences in Chicago’s south side.

Building Community

After the birth of her second child in 2017, Tayo noticed a common denominator with both of her deliveries一community. During labor and postpartum, she had the help of her mother, also an experienced doula, great aunt, and even her great grandmother were present to support her. She was in disbelief that it could all be so easy, then she realized, everyone does not have that luxury.

“My mother was supporting me, and my family was supporting my mother,” she said, “This is why we started a collective, so people could provide layers of support for families.”

Inspired by the village that surrounded her一Tayo, along with her mother Toni, launched the Chicago Birthworks Collective (CBC). Primarily servicing the south side of Chicago, CBC is the first of its kind to provide birth workers, healers, and wellness practitioners in their community.

The collective also serves as a support system for women practicing in the field. “People love seeing Black doulas working together,” Tayo said. “It is important to make sure your needs are met as a doula to adequately support the needs of families.”

Love Packages

As a result of racial injustice protests, Chicago’s south side was cut off from major resources due to the city raising the bridges, making it difficult to access the downtown area. “The south side got slammed. Grocery stores were closed一pharmacies and gas stations too.” At that moment, Tayo and CBC began assembling Love Packages. This initiative was simply used to gather and redistribute extra supplies that anyone had within the community. This eventually took off unexpectedly.

Supplies were donated from the north side of Chicago, several states across the country, and even from Canada. The response was so great in fact, the items had to be stored in several different locations. Donations filled Tayo’s home, a classroom, a community center, and part of a church.

“People were telling me that this was a good problem to have, but I disagree. It’s a problem that there is so much abundance, and so much can be collected at the spare of the moment. These people have been going without supplies for quite some time.”

Everyone was equally impacted, therefore there was no basic requirement to receive a package. Tayo and her team don’t see it as charity work一they see it as a business pouring into and working with their community.

National Breastfeeding Month

August is recognized as National Breastfeeding Month. According to the National Institute of Children’s Health Quality, this month is meant to “…raise awareness about the importance and benefits of breast milk, as well as empower and support all mothers to achieve their breastfeeding goals”. To get the community engaged, CBC celebrated The Big Brown Chi Town Let Down, a virtual latching event with resources and giveaways for their Chicago “breast-friends”.

Events were also centered around Black Breastfeeding Week, as well as Indigenous Breastfeeding Week, to focus on the intersections of culture with the practice of breastfeeding.

To close out the month, CBC held their first in-person event of the year一Movies & Milk, a night of giveaways, vendors, free contactless lactation support, and a drive-in movie. This event was a great change of pace, as many of their interactions with the community have been virtual.


Even though CBC is an LLC, Tayo still wanted their services to be accessible. Families have the option of utilizing the community doula program. For a fraction of the price, care can be provided in a group setting rather than the traditional one-on-one relationship.

August 2020 marked the launch of their first scholarship fund, which can help offset those costs. Since its inception, four families have been supported with full doula care. “Chicago Birthworks Collective needs to be a sustainable institution. We can’t constantly hand out diapers, wipes, and formulas and believe that they are okay,” Tayo said. The collective works to make sure these families are cared for beyond those essential items.

To nurture their village further, CBC provides weekly chats with a doula, monthly product reviews, and several giveaways. Tayo emphasized the importance of connecting clients and supporters with brands that they can trust.

Learn more about the Chicago Birthworks Collective and how you can help them provide doula care for all.

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