Kymaletha Brown opened the Great Divine Center in Detroit last month. Courtesy photo.
Kymaletha Brown was the first mother in her family to have a natural birth and the first mother in her family to breastfeed her son. Those milestones were part of a journey that culminated in the work she does today to support pregnant women and new moms through the Great Divine Center.
Brown, a clinical mental health therapist and hypnobirthing instructor, opened the Great Divine Center on Detroit’s east side last month to provide prenatal and postpartum care with a focus on mental health related to women’s health. The center offers a range of resources, including yoga classes, doula services and support accessing critical supplies like diapers and formula. The center is home to Goddess Great, through which Brown runs a Maternal Infant Health Program for Medicaid-eligible pregnant women and infants, as well as a kids’ play area and a dance studio that hosts classes.
“On my journey, I realized that a lot of women … lack resources, education, financial support [and have] environmental barriers and transportation barriers,” Brown said.
Brown’s passion for maternal care has been in part fueled by the disparities in health outcomes for Black women and children, of particular concern in Detroit. Maternal and infant mortality rates for Black women and babies are more than double than for their white counterparts nationwide. In Detroit, the Black infant mortality rate was 12.3 per 1,000 births in 2019, a reduction by more than a third from the previous year but still nearly double the statewide rate.
Brown got her start by researching and sharing information about breastfeeding, natural birth and other resources for pregnant women on social media.
“I started getting the following, inspiring people to actually breastfeed,” Brown said. “I knew a lot of people that were pregnant who watched my journey breastfeeding my son from birth to two-and-a-half years.”
Soon she was selling shirts with slogans like “normalize breastfeeding” and taking classes that would let her support other moms professionally. Brown completed her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and a business program through ProsperUs Detroit last year, breastfeeding all the while. “Before I had this passion, but then I found my purpose,” she said.
She is also one of the first Black hypnobirthing instructors in Detroit. The hypnobirthing method, first developed in 1989, teaches relaxation, meditation and breathing techniques that aim to improve the experience of going through labor and reduce mothers’ pain and fear.
“I wanted to bring to the community a different type of childbirth education with hypnobirthing, because this is not practiced in our culture,” Brown said. “I’m not hypnotizing anybody. It’s more of control over the mind and control over the body and aligning both, so birth could be easy.”
The Great Divine Center is located in a formerly vacant building at 17163 E. Warren Ave., in the neighborhood where she grew up. Despite the missing floors, Brown knew it was the right spot.
“Being on East Warren is home to me, it’s where I belong,” she said. “When I found the building, I said, ‘this is the place, this is it,’ and it was all divine to me. I felt like everything was happening for my good. Everything in my life has been aligning since I had my son.”
Since the center opened, Brown has been working to get the word out, and she hopes to collaborate with other organizations and offer more classes in the future. This month, the center is offering a virtual hypnobirthing workshop; in October it will host a community babyshower with vendors, a DJ, bounce houses and more entertainment.
“I really just want to leave a footprint knowing that I helped people,” Brown said, “and that I gave back to the community by providing more knowledge, more resources and more support.”