Birth center opens to address needs of Black mothers, families
“Our birth center is definitely different,” said founder Okunsola M. Amadou.
For nearly a decade, the founder of the Jamaa Birth Village in Ferguson, Missouri has had one simple goal, and that is to improve maternity care for Black families in the St. Louis area.
As reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Okunsola M. Amadou first began outreach efforts out of her home, hosting meetings with struggling moms in need of a hand up. Her hard work has finally paid off, as Amadou recently purchased an empty lot to build a new 5,000-square-foot birth center and postpartum retreat in Ferguson.
“Our birth center is definitely different,” said Amadou, per the report.
“When people come here, they are like, ‘Wow.’ They feel really safe. We have a shared, lived experience. They can feel comfortable. They can be honest,” Amadou said.
The center will allow new moms and their partners to stay at the facility for a week after giving birth, where they will continue to receive medical monitoring and post-natal education.
“It’s revolutionary in a sense,” Amadou said. “A lot of people have their babies and go home. They may have their other kids to think about and look after. They may start to pick up a broom and a mop. They are impeding their healing, and it’s not their fault.”
As previously reported by theGrio’s Maiysha Kai, the Black maternal health crisis has grown in recent years, with several politicians—including Vice President Kamala Harris—lobbying to highlight racial disparities in maternal health in hope of improving outcomes. Black mothers remain three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts, according to the CDC.
Several high profile Black women have revealed their own dangerous birthing experiences, including Beyoncé and tennis champion Serena Williams, who recently penned an essay about nearly dying after giving birth to her daughter in 2018.
Williams’ essay comes ahead of Black Maternal Health Week from April 11-17.
“Being heard and appropriately treated was the difference between life or death for me,” Williams wrote in Elle. “I know those statistics would be different if the medical establishment listened to every Black woman’s experience.”
“The type of care, the type of information and the type of support that is given and made available to white women no matter their income, no matter their education — it is not made available to Black women no matter our income, insurance type, ZIP code or education,” Amadou said.
The Jamaa Birth Village Birth Center and Postpartum Retreat Haven will be located at the corner of Hereford and Cunningham Avenues, just north of downtown Ferguson, Missouri. Until it fully opens, Amadou’s current clients will continue to give birth at home with a midwife or in a hospital.
Since 2016, the facility has trained nearly 200 Black women to serve as doulas, according to the report.
Per the St. Louis Post Dispatch, 861 women nationwide died during pregnancy or within 42 days after birth in 2020. Thousands more die every year from health-related complications after giving birth.
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