Black Maternal Health: Child Birthing in Communities of Color

With mortality rates continuously rising in our communities, how do we deal with expecting the unexpected when you are expecting? On May 20th, Melinated Moms, a networking group for women and mothers of color, and Northern NJ Doula Network, hosted a panel discussion and documentary viewing at The Bridge Art Gallery to discuss how communities of color are very vulnerable to maternal and infant mortality rates. These rates are affecting the abilities of mothers to raise their children, connect with their children and most importantly, find a way to save our children from repeating this cycle of uncertainty. The odds are still high regardless of resource availability, socio-economic status or educational background.

The panel (Dr. Christine Thorpe, Unique Downs, Fly Carmichael, Aliah Davis-McHenry, Sharon Elise and Nicole Taylor) representedwomen from all aspects of childbirthing experiences ranging from nurses, doulas, as well as women who have given birth and just need to tell their stories. Moderated by Melinated Moms' Founder Jaye Wilson, the panel highlighted how cultural diversity should not be seen as a hindrance, but as a guide to help birth children in the most natural way possible. We know it takes a village to raise a child, but that same village is needed to guide that woman through the transitions of motherhood throughout her life.

There were women in the room that did not have their own birthing story, those that were pregnant or trying to conceive, and women that wanted to make a difference in black maternal health. Regardless of their back story, they all wanted to know what we can do to stop this from continuing.

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The discussion centered around the investigative documentary, The Naked Truth. Documentarian Nelufar Hedayat reported on this systemic problem affecting black women across the country and examines why Black women are enduring violent birthing experiences and dying at such astronomical rates.

It is your human right to have the children that you want, in the way that you want.

- Executive Director of Sister Song, Monica Simpson

After the panel discussion and viewing, the women broke into smaller groups to discuss stages of pregnancy (Prenatal, Perinatal, Postnatal, Antenatal) and how you can use a doula to beat the health disparity associated with mortality.

Want to learn more?Melinated Moms a networking event group for women and mothers of color in the NJ/tri-state area. The group hosts conversations like this to encourage, enlighten and empower our women to be their own advocates as well holding family-centric events. NNJDOulaNet is an advocacy and resource organization for doulas in Northern NJ, supporting their collaborative work with doctors and midwives, and seeking creative partnerships with maternal-child health organizations. Their site includes doula events, advocacy, and education/professional development, and highlighting birth workers truly making a difference.