LOS ANGELES — A Carson native is encouraging men to join him in helping Black moms have safer births.

Dustin Young is a certified doula who has had questions about the birthing process since he was little.

“As I got older, I just kind of like look at women as gods essentially, which you guys are,” Young said.

Young is a single, Black male with no kids. He has three sisters. His baby sister is the reason he became a doula. She was pregnant a few years ago while away at school in Oklahoma and said her medical team wasn’t always supportive, so she had to face a difficult pregnancy alone.

“Her fifth month, she went to the doctor and had some bad news. She found out the heartbeat stopped, and she had a stillbirth,” Young said.

When his sister was pregnant again a few years later, Young refused to let her do it alone. He found a doula and became the doula’s assistant. Young helped his sister labor at home for hours before taking her to the hospital and helping with his nephew’s delivery. Young even cut the umbilical cord.

“I felt like I wanted to be there as much as possible and guide her through that process,” Young said.

Young has now helped with three births.

Keeping Black moms and their babies safe during birth continues to be an urgent public health issue. In Los Angeles County, Black moms die at four times the rate as white moms.

Young became a certified doula at Kindred Space LA, where he continues to learn best birthing practices. Space co-founder and doula Kimberly Durdin says men being part of the process is nothing new.

“Many people see a male obstetrician,” said Durdin. “In fact, there are more male obstetricians than there are female, but folks think it’s kind of unusual for a male to want to be a doula. But men in birth work is actually a part of history. In terms of African history, there were African midwives, also male midwives and we see that tradition came across the Atlantic.”

Young is carrying on the tradition but admitted he has heard jokes from his male friends about being a doula.

“They start clowning me like, ‘That’s not for us. That’s not our space. What are you doing?’ But I’m like, ‘Technically it is, bro. The pregnancy process is two people,'” he said.

Young believes men can help reduce the high rate of Black mother mortality by being more aware of the birthing process and being a vocal advocate for their partner.

“It’s like, how do I empower the men to be there and let them know like you are part of the process?”

Young is available on his website.