Taking Black Mothers by the Hand

Maternal outcomes are worse for women of color. Specially trained doulas are trying to reverse the trend.

To Bailey Rollins, it was always striking how different pregnancy and childbirth might look for women of color and white women. A former educator in Harlem, she witnessed the reduced pre-natal care quality that African-American women sometimes have, and that prompted her to take on a new mission. So she became a doula, a woman who is trained to help other women during childbirth, in 2013.

Since, she’s tried to bridge the gap between women and their healthcare providers. She works as an advocate, provides emotional support during pregnancy, and walks alongside women who might otherwise feel lost in the process.

Rollins’s impressions about the racial discrepancies in childbearing seem to be confirmed by numbers. The most recent data from the New York City department of health show how mothers of color in New York City are 12 times more likely to suffer from serious complications during pregnancy or labor than white mothers.

For Your Birth, one of the doula agencies that Rollins works for, is also on a mission to bring doula services closer to otherwise underserved or underrepresented communities, by offering pay-as-you-can options and spreading the message that doulas don’t have to be a rich-people treat.


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