Community | Fall 2019

Birthing Beautiful Communities: fighting maternal and infant mortality among African-Americans

Birthing Beautiful
Baby Kayianna celebrates her 1st birthday
(Photo courtesy of Birthing Beautiful Communities)

When she began working as a doula, providing support to women during pregnancy and labor, Christin Farmer says she was the only African-American doula she knew of.

“That’s an issue, because African-American women are suffering from the maternal and infant death crisis,” says Farmer, founder and president of Birthing Beautiful Communities (BBC). “So I set out to train more women of color in this profession.”

Her organization trains those living in the same communities as its clients, so they can relate to each other’s cultural and community experiences.

“We recruit, train, and hire women from areas with a higher infant mortality rate,” Farmer says. “I wanted to create a network of women to support the mother before the labor and delivery room.”

Beyond the birthing room

To overcome barriers to healthy mothers and children, BBC takes aim at the root causes of the problem.

“We help the mom get through a pregnancy in a less stressful manner, addressing education, employment, housing, all of the social determinants of health,” Farmer says. “This is our way of creating equity in spaces where equity doesn’t exist,” she says.

And in just four years, BBC has made a difference. For example, in Cuyahoga County, the breastfeeding rate for African-American women is 67 percent; for BBC, that rate is 81 percent. And African-American women in Cuyahoga County have cesarean births at a rate of 31 percent; for BBC, it’s 22 percent.

“It’s important to understand that this is what change looks like, and this is what change could look like on a larger scale,” Farmer says.

A bright future

BBC is currently on a capital campaign to build a facility with a headquarters, birthing center, and 20 units of short-term housing. And as it looks to grow, it is building its relationship with Huntington so it can further assist clients.

“Part of our mission is helping to create equity in the financial sector, and we are getting to know Huntington and how they can help us achieve that goal,” she says.

About the organization

Name: Birthing Beautiful Communities
City: Cleveland
Phone: (216) 307-1538
Mission: To address and improve the systemic and community structures that lead to poor birth outcomes through culture, education, advocacy, support, and engagement.

How you can help

Visit the website to donate or learn more about getting involved.

Make an impact

Learn how Huntington can help make a positive impact in the region. Contact your Huntington relationship manager.
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