The U.S. is facing a maternal health crisis. Today, a woman is twice as likely to die from complications of pregnancy and birth than her mother was a generation ago. Black and Indigenous women are 2-3 times more likely than white women to die from complications of pregnancy and birth.
Despite spending more money per capita on maternal health than any country in the world, the U.S. ranks a shocking 55th in maternal deaths. It is the only high-resource nation with a consistently rising maternal mortality rate, and disparities are rampant. We invest in and amplify maternity care models that advance birth justice by taking a rights based approach to improving health outcomes, and ensuring that all people can give birth with dignity and respect, all while placing women at the center of the equation.
The majority of maternal deaths in the U.S. can be prevented by timely access to respectful, equitable care. Our work focuses on investing in and expanding access to community-based and culturally relevant, models that are proven to lead to excellent outcomes and compassionate, respectful care, including the midwifery model of care and community-based doula and peer-to-peer support
Working with decision-makers, thought and practice leaders, and community members is key to improving maternal health outcomes and increasing health equity. We help shape and advance federal and state bills and policies to hold U.S. health systems, institutions, companies and the government accountable to the individuals, families and communities they serve
We believe that educating the public, sharing stories and uplifting the voices of our partners is just as critical as our grantmaking and advocacy. Our public awareness campaigns, more than 25 films and documentaries, and numerous published reports highlight the most important challenges and solutions when it comes to improving maternal health.
Commonsense Childbirth is working not only to transform access and experience of maternity care, but also to raise awareness and address the systemic barriers that influence disproportionate poor maternal health outcomes among women of color. The organization includes an Easy Access Clinic, where no one is turned away, regardless of their ability to pay, as well as a free-standing birth center, the National Perinatal Taskforce, and the first Black-owned, accredited midwifery school in the U.S. The staff support families navigating the structural barriers of Medicaid, connect families with social services, and provide wraparound psychological support.
Ancient Song Doula Services works to address racial disparities and inequities within the health care system. They apply a reproductive and birth justice framework in order to improve maternal health by conducting doula training and certification, hosting conferences and educational forums, and providing full spectrum doula services for pregnant and parenting people. Ancient Song works to center the voices, experiences, and joy of marginalized communities, particularly those of Black and brown birthing people in New York and New Jersey and across the U.S.
Changing Woman Initiative works to renew and support Indigenous traditions around pregnancy and birth and improve maternal and community health in Native American communities. Through their work, they seek to restore the sovereignty of Indigenous midwifery and community health with the return to gender equality and cultural practices. CWI supports Native American families seeking prenatal care and women’s health care through the Corn Mother Easy Access Health Clinic and White Shell Woman Homebirth Services.
SisterWeb is a community-based doula program aimed at closing equity gaps and improving health by training African American, Latinx, and Pacific Islander doulas and linking them with pregnant people in their own communities to provide culturally-relevant prenatal, childbirth, and postpartum support. SisterWeb also supports the development of doula-facilitated community education and partners with local organizations and institutions to make a wide-scale system change to the way hospitals and community health clinics provide pregnancy and birthing care to communities of color.
Village Birth International provides community-based doula care to improve outcomes in birth, breastfeeding, parenting, and healing for communities in Syracuse, New York. VBI is committed to health equity for all families by eliminating the impact of racism and systemic oppression on perinatal outcomes through a reproductive and birth justice framework and their doulas provide physical, emotional, spiritual care, and advocacy throughout all stages of reproductive health care.
Tewa Women United (TWU) is a Native woman led community-based organization addressing the challenges of maternal and reproductive health and justice for Indigenous women. TWU’s Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Project works to address the gap in effective resources for low income women of color and their families during pregnancy and the postpartum period through the provision of culturally congruent doula support.
We also use storytelling, filmmaking, and data and research to share challenges, opportunities and advocacy goals. Our Giving Birth in America series documents the ongoing maternal health crisis in the United States, following mothers in accessing maternity care state-by-state.