NewsBlack Women Turn Towards Birth Centers

Black Women Turn Towards Birth Centers

One of the appeals of birth centers is that they often look and feel like homes, with the added ability of the staff to give personal attention to each of their patients.

Six years later, some Black women are stepping away from the hospital model. One of those women, Vernette Kountz told CNN that although her previous delivery experiences were successful, her hospital and medical office visits felt rushed, routine, and impersonal. Kountz said, “When you’re in this medical model, you feel kind of shuffled around, told what to do, you have all of these assessments and ultrasounds. It feels more so transactional and less intimate.”

Leseliey Welch, the co-founder and co-director of Birth Center Equity, told CNN that the disparity in outcomes for Black women is another reminder of the ugly legacy of racism in America.

“This whole country has operated in a hierarchy of human value based on race,” Welch said. “Our hospitals and health systems are no exception. Survival should be the least we expect in birth care. That’s the least we can do for so many families in this country.”

One of the appeals of birth centers is that they often look and feel like homes, with the added ability of the staff to give personal attention to each of their patients. During a recent visit to the Atlanta Birth Center, Kountz, who is 32 weeks pregnant, was asked a compassionate question by her midwife, Anji Hinman, “How is your body feeling these days?” To which Kountz replied by informing her that she had a relatively good day with little dysfunction of her pelvic floor and she walked up and down stairs without ambulatory assistance. Kountz told CNN that she believes the entire staff has her total health at the forefront of their minds, in stark contrast to the impersonal nature of hospital healthcare. 

Hinman, for her part, told CNN that she believes that birth centers like the Atlanta Birth Center play a role in helping to assist with giving Black women better birth outcomes because of their focus on a holistic approach to childbirth. In addition to focusing on the process of childbirth, birth centers also pay attention to women postpartum, which, according to Hinman, is a focus for staff at the Atlanta Birth Center. 

According to a study by the JBI Evidence Synthesis, half of all maternal deaths occur on the day of delivery, 24% happen between days two and seven, and 25% occur between days eight and 42. Kountz also feels like the lack of dependence on narcotics is a positive, telling CNN, “It accommodates that desire to feel home and safe and grounded and protected. They have aromatherapy, they have music, tapestries, words of affirmation hung up. They are promoting pain coping skills versus narcotics.” 

RELATED CONTENT: Conservative Organizations Fight To End Affirmative Action For A Maternal Health Program In California

Source: Black Enterprise

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