The JUST Birth Network: Fighting systemic racism in childbirth with equity and integrity
Striking racial inequities have persisted in maternal and infant care in the U.S., despite advancements in medicine and health care. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. pregnancy-related mortality is three times higher in Black women and two times higher among American Indian and Alaska Native women than white women.
We know that these stark disparities, rooted in systemic racism and longstanding discrimination, are not just statistics. These inequities have real consequences for birthing people, mothers, babies and entire families.
At Providence Swedish, our mission is to improve the health and well-being of every person we serve. We do this by improving health care access for patients of all backgrounds and promoting culturally competent care.
That’s why we created the Justice Unity Support Trust (JUST) Birth Network to empower and improve the birthing experience of Black and Native birthing women and people from across the sex and gender identity spectrum.
The network began serving patients in May 2022 with funding from the Providence Health Equity fund, as part of our commitment to address inequities experienced by our patients and communities. It includes dedicated cultural navigators, childbirth educators, and birth and postpartum doulas, who provide patients and their families with expert care and guidance throughout their pregnancy and birthing experience.
In 2022, the network assisted approximately 110 families with birth and/or postpartum doula support, 87 families through cultural navigation and connected 126 community resources with patients. These numbers are expected to double in 2023 as the program advances.
You can learn more about this program by watching this video and by reading the Swedish blog.