One Year In: JustBirth Space
Every Mother Counts looks to those on the front lines, individuals and organizations we admire, for the best solutions to provide quality, respectful and equitable maternity care for every mother, everywhere. Our monthly newsletter and blog series spotlights those grantee partners, initiatives and individuals who are tackling the global maternal mortality crisis in the communities they serve.
For birthing people navigating pregnancy and parenting during this unprecedented time, a resource as accessible as your next text message can be a lifeline.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, maternal deaths in the U.S. were higher than any other high-resource country, with stark and persistent racial disparities. The pandemic has threatened to worsen the maternal health crisis, particularly for Black birthing people, by exacerbating longstanding gaps in the health care system and structural barriers to accessing maternity care.
As the world navigated the early days of the pandemic, Every Mother Counts faced the question: what can we do with our partners to better support the needs of pregnant, birthing and postpartum people, during and after COVID-19?
One year ago today, we teamed up with trusted partners, Ancient Song Doula Services, Village Birth International and Jacaranda Health, to launch JustBirth Space.
What is JustBirth Space?
Every Mother Counts and partners launched JustBirth Space, a free, virtual platform, to connect more birthing people to comprehensive and person-centered support.
The platform offers responsive and compassionate perinatal support through text and video chat, as well as virtual support groups and classes for moms, pregnant people and families all free of charge.
JustBirth Space’s team of Connectors includes community-based doulas, lactation consultants, childbirth educators and postpartum experts–all providing warm, welcoming, and responsive support that is inclusive and safe for all identities. Support is available for pregnant people and parents in New York City and northern New Jersey on topics related to pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum and infant feeding.
JustBirth Space puts the principles of birth justice into practice by humanizing virtual care to address some of the gaps in our maternity care system that are driving poor maternal health outcomes and racial disparities. JustBirth Space meets real and urgent needs, particularly for mothers and families that are of color, queer and/or Spanish-speaking, and does so in a way that can be replicated, scaled and extended beyond the COVID pandemic.
What’s occurring on the front lines?
In its first year, JustBirth Space has engaged 2,000 birthing people and their families.
Since September 2020, JustBirth Space’s team of 10 Connectors engaged 2,000 birthing people and their families in the New York and New Jersey areas via text and video calls, and virtual support groups and classes.
Text messages coming in to JustBirth Space’s platform cover a wide range of questions and topics, including emotional support, insurance navigation, finding a provider, pregnancy and postpartum health and rights in maternity care settings. These conversations are intimate, vulnerable and in-depth, reflecting the importance and trust-based nature of this compassionate and responsive support.
Additionally, JustBirth Space has hosted over 100 CommunityConnect classes and virtual support groups to date. Classes focus on topics such as childbirth education, newborn care, infant feeding, prenatal yoga and art as healing. Our support groups have fostered communities of support for pregnant and postpartum people, queer families, single parents and Spanish-speaking families.
Only a text away, our new partnership, JustBirth Space, connects pregnant, birthing and postpartum individuals with perinatal support specialists for free.
JustBirth Space builds community amidst the isolation of the pandemic and the hardships that arise when facing gaps in care. JustBirth Space will continue to welcome birthing people and their families into a network of support consisting of people going through similar experiences and guided by the wisdom of Connectors. Participants have described JustBirth Space support as being accessible, friendly, engaging, grounding, nonjudgmental, inclusive and welcoming.
This innovative project brings together the expertise of Ancient Song Doula Services and Village Birth International in community-based support and birth justice, with the technical developments of Jacaranda Health and EMC’s strengths in fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. By working together in partnership, JustBirth Space exemplifies how programs can adapt community-driven solutions using technological platforms in order to address both urgent needs brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and longstanding gaps in our maternity care system.