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Reducing Black Maternal Deaths by Raising the Standard of Care

Published 04/22/2022 by Global Communities


Quality, equitable maternal care should be a right, not a privilege. But this care is not guaranteed for all mothers in the United States, resulting in increased rates of infant and maternal mortality, especially for Black communities.

Rooted in institutional racism and implicit biases, and impacted by the social determinants of health, Black women are three to four times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than their white peers.

At least 60 percent of these deaths are preventable, which is why Global Communities’ Healthy Start program provides a continuum of high-quality maternal and infant care for diverse Black and immigrant communities in San Diego, CA.

Funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the program takes a person-centered approach to improving maternal and infant health through free prenatal and childbirth education, midwifery care, doula and lactation services, postpartum support and home-based visits with perinatal navigators. Participants can receive these services from the time of conception through 18 months postpartum, and partners can be enrolled as well alongside the birthing parent and baby.

Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with a current client, staff member and program partner to discuss how – together – we are raising the standard of care for Black mothers and working to achieve birth equity in San Diego.

As licensed midwife Nikki Helms shares, “There’s lots of moving pieces to how we got to this place, and it’s going to take a lot of effort to dismantle the structures that hold up those disparities.”

Watch the video to learn how Healthy Start is up for the challenge.

This content is part of Future Forward, a thought leadership and storytelling series on how Global Communities is driving change to save lives, advance equity and secure strong futures. To learn more, visit