It’s a staggering statistic - Black moms in the US are 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white moms. Here in Oregon, Black moms also face difficult odds - but Portland’s Sacred Roots Community Doula Program has been improving those odds and bucking the statistics since 2017, supporting Black moms in having healthier births and healthier babies.
Today, the Sacred Roots program receives 4-5 calls from pregnant and postpartum mothers every week and has a waiting list of women eager to train to become culturally-specific doulas and make this their life's work. Right now they can not meet the growing need; limited funds are the biggest barrier to meeting the needs of more Black moms in our community.
As women, mothers, and doulas, we take the Black maternal health crisis personally. In celebration of Mother’s Day, we invite you to join us in raising $4500 by May 31st to fund the training of three additional culturally-specific doulas to support Black moms in our community. Read more below - and make a contribution here.
Birthing Racial Equity - Take A Stand With Us
Research shows that mothers benefit from doula support by experiencing shorter labors with fewer complications and babies who are healthier and more likely to breastfeed (1). The benefits are even greater when her doula looks like her, understands her culture and speaks her language (2).
This Mother’s Day, Bridgetown Baby is honored to partner with the Sacred Roots Community Doula Program to support three women eager to become culturally-specific doulas - please help us raise $4500 in scholarships!
“The Black women we supported in 2018 have had 96 percent breastfeeding rates, 83 percent of all births were vaginal deliveries, 90 percent of birth weights were 5.15 lbs or above, 97 percent of babies were at/or above 37 weeks gestational age at birth,” states Linda Bryant-Daaka, Sacred Roots Program Manager. “These statistics are above the county and state statistics for Black women and baby birth outcomes. We need to expand this program in order to meet the growing needs of our mothers.”
Since Sacred Roots was started in 2017, it has been wildly popular in Portland and surrounding areas. Today, they receive 4-5 calls a week from expecting moms. They also have a waiting list of women eager to train to become doulas. But due to limited funds, they are unable to train these women and, thus, unable to meet the needs of all the moms in our community.
Bridgetown Baby believes that investing in the women who are uniquely positioned to serve these families is a powerful way for mothers to support other mothers at a profound time and, thus, improve the health and well-being of our community as a whole.
MORE ABOUT THE BLACK MATERNAL HEALTH CRISIS
In a review of Oregon data, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) found that non-Latino African Americans faced the most disparate birth outcomes when it comes to indicators including premature birth, low birth weight, and infant mortality. In 2011, the Oregon legislature passed House Bill 3311, which directed OHA to explore options for including doulas in state medical assistance programs to reduce health disparities among women who face a disproportionately greater risk of poor birth outcomes. According to an Oregon Health Authority Committee report, since “doulas traditionally come from the communities they serve and have an intimate knowledge of the culture, they are uniquely positioned among the health care workforce to improve birth outcomes. (3)”
The disparities in maternal health are not unique to Oregon but are a nation-wide public health crisis. “The U.S. has a higher rate of maternal deaths than any other developed country, with 26.4 deaths per 100,000 births. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 60 percent of these fatalities can be prevented. Black women are four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women” (4).
This is true regardless of a woman’s age, income or education, as we saw with Serena Williams (5). The reality is that our culture of racism is making moms and babies sick.
Fortunately, these statistics are getting national attention and are reversible. On April 9th, 2019, Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-Ill) and Alma Adams (D-NC), launched the Black Maternal Health Caucus. "Our caucus will elevate Black maternal health as a national priority and explore and advocate for effective, evidence-based, culturally competent policies and best practices for improving Black maternal health," Underwood said at a press conference (6).
TAKING ACTION HERE AT HOME
It is encouraging to see national attention on this issue - but we don’t have to wait for Congress to improve the statistics here in Oregon. By investing in culturally-specific doulas in Oregon, we can diversify the doula community, work to close the disparity gap, and make Oregon a healthy home for Black moms and their babies. Join us and give here.
The Sacred Roots Community Doula Program is a culturally-specific expectant parent education program of the Black Parent Initiative (BPI). BPI was established in 2006 to help families achieve financial, educational and spiritual success. BPI was founded and organized on a large body of educational research that demonstrates the importance of parental and family engagement in attaining educational success for children.
Bridgetown Baby is Portland’s premier postpartum doula group specializing in postpartum doula and lactation support.
(1) “The Black Parent Initiative Sacred Roots Doula Program,” (April 23, 2019)
(2) “Commonsense Childbirth,” (April 23, 2019)
(3) “FamilyCare Health,” (April 23, 2019)
(4) “The Hill, Dem Lawmakers form Black Maternal Health Caucus,” (April 23, 2019)
(6) “The Hill, Dem Lawmakers form Black Maternal Health Caucus,” (April 23, 2019)