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Credit: Gennisi Charitable Birth Services
Weekend edition July 14, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Ty Roberts is helping parents, one baby at a time

A doula can do many things but acts mainly as a support system to the mother before and after birth. Roberts is a birth doula, a postpartum doula, a fertility doula, a lactation specialist, and teaches infant CPR. Basically, she does it all.

For as long as she can remember, Ty Roberts has been captivated by pregnant women.

“I just loved to look at their bellies. I was in awe of them,” she said.

She wanted to be an OBGYN, but life got in the way, and she put her dreams of working with pregnant women on hold. That is until 2015 when she first learned the word “doula.”

“Once I started really figuring out what that was, I realized that was actually the path that I wanted to go on. So in 2019, I finally got trained and it’s been a ride ever since,” Roberts said. “I’m glad I made the decision I made.”

A doula can do many things but acts mainly as a support system to the mother before and after birth. Roberts is a birth doula, a postpartum doula, a fertility doula, a lactation specialist, and teaches infant CPR. Basically, she does it all.

“People want a doula because when a baby is entering into the world, the attention and the care is going to be focused on the baby and moms end up being left in the cold,” said Roberts. “They forget that there’s a whole different component emotionally and physically that moms need because they need to feel supported, they need to feel empowered.”

Roberts took this passion and split it into one business and one nonprofit: Miracle V Birth Concierge and Gennisi Charitable Birth Services, respectively. Both are modeled after the help she wished she could have had as a young mom.

“When I became a new mom, I was living in a really bad situation,” she said. “I was living in a shelter. I was in an abusive relationship. I was 19. I had been estranged from my actual family for a few years, so I had no real support.”

Ty Roberts

Now she gives that support to other women, in honor of her daughters, granddaughter, and the child she lost.

“Miracle V actually comes from my daughter who I had prematurely in 2000. Her name was Miracle Victoria, so I decided to name it after her,” said Roberts.

She now runs both services full-time after starting her doula work on the side.

“This is something I’m so passionate about, there was no way I was going to be able to be in a nine-to-five every day and then turn around and try to do this, especially because birth is so unpredictable,” said Roberts. “I remember one time I had a client that didn’t deliver the baby until six o’clock in the morning, and I had to be at work at eight.”

In an effort to grow her business, Roberts applied and was accepted into Cohort 6 of 100Knoxville, an initiative to help double the revenue of local Black-owned businesses through the investment of time, talent, and access to social, political, and financial capital. 100Knoxville’s goal is to help Black-owned businesses in Knoxville grow by $10,000,000 in five years.

“It was amazing, but it was so challenging,” she said. “It challenged me to think outside of the way I did business, the way I looked at myself, the way I looked at my self-worth, and how I valued myself monetarily and what that looked like. It was uncomfortable, but it was also necessary.”

Roberts is kind and giving, she’d do her work for free if she could. But her 100Knoxville mentors worked with her to build her passion not just as a hobby, but as a business.

“My biggest takeaway was really to be able to understand my self-worth and to stop shrinking to fit into this bubble of what I perceive myself to be, and to look at myself differently so that I can really be the best I can for my clients,” said Roberts.

It’s her clients that make her unpredictable hours worth it.

“My favorite part about my job is watching parents become a parent,” said Roberts.

Her clients, and the difference Roberts knows she’s making.

“In the African American community, a lot of women are not treated fairly and they’re dying during birth,” she said. “So that’s the other added benefit for a person of color to have someone that looks like them, to support them, to try to reduce these rates of people of color dying either during childbirth or because of a birth-related complication.”

Recently her nonprofit held a community baby shower for 17 women who needed help.

“I could not have imagined how great it was,” Roberts said. “The thing that really touched my heart was that we had so many people that donated items. If I’d have had something like that, just to have people love on me for a couple of hours and give me some things I really would have needed, I think that would have at least let me feel like a queen for a day.”

It’s her past that pushes Roberts forward as plans grow to expand her business and nonprofit.

“At some point, I would love to open a doula agency to be able to serve more people and to have people on staff,” she said. “For the nonprofit, one of my ultimate goals is I want to build a shelter, or just a home for moms.”

The home she would have dreamed of when she was 19.

“I always said that if I ever got out of that situation and I was successful, I wanted to do something like that for moms. To provide them a place that if they’re not able to be on their own or not financially able to be on their own or have any family support or anything like that, to have a place they could go and have their babies and have someone to walk them through getting back on their feet.”

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