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'We Can Come Together': LA Events Recognizing Black Maternal Health

Pregnant women sit in a row at Kindred Space
Kindred Space is one Los Angeles organization that hosts a weekly prenatal and postpartum support group.
(Mariana Dale
/
LAist)
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In L.A. County there are, and have been for years, stark health disparities between Black families and those of other races.

Black babies born here are three times more likely than white babies to die before their first birthday, and Black moms are four times more likely than white moms to die of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Research suggests the root cause is not any singular behavior, rather it's a lifetime of living with racism, an experience sometimes called "weathering."

"What that stands for is the idea that being a black woman in America is associated with such adverse experience that it ages you — it ages you — before your time," said Dr. Deborah Allen, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health during a press conference Monday.

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Three years ago, the department committed to reducing the gap between Black and white infant mortality by 30% by 2023.

"Racism is so pervasive a social phenomenon in our society, that we can't make this a project, if you will, for one agency," Allen said. "This really has to be a movement, and it has to include all sectors in the county."

For a few examples of this effort, see our stories about midwives who are expanding options for birthing in South L.A. and doulas who've adapted to working during the pandemic.

"To call together this community has really been a labor of love," said Adjoa Jones, founding leader of the County's African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Community Action Team. "We can come together, we who are impacted by this issue, can come together and address this."

Part of this expansive effort is Black Maternal Health Week, a nationwide initiative created four years ago by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance to encourage "awareness, activism, and community building."

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A mural on the walls of the courtyard at Kindred Space LA.
A mural on the walls of the courtyard at Kindred Space LA.
(Chava Sanchez
/
LAist)

HERE ARE A FEW WAYS TO PARTICIPATE IN L.A.

Learn how to create family-centered care

TUESDAY, APRIL 13; 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Virtual event

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist LeHenry Solomon moderates a conversation about doulas, fathers supporting mothers during labor, home visitation and the Black Daddy Dialogue support group. The conversation will also be livestreamed on Facebook. Here's MORE INFO.

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Donate toys to South L.A. and South Bay families

TUESDAY, APRIL 13 and WEDNESDAY, April 14

The South Los Angeles/South Bay African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Community Action Team and the Casa Bella Foundation are collecting toys for kids 0-5 and gift cards (Target and Walmart suggested) for local families. Contact Dr. Erica Melbourne at 213-905-8861 before Thursday, April 15 at 5 p.m. to arrange a drop-off. Here's MORE INFO.

Meet Antelope Valley doulas

TUESDAY, APRIL 13; 12 p.m.

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Virtual event

Learn about how doulas can support families in pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Hosted by the Antelope Valley African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Initiative. Here's MORE INFO.

Cook tasty and nutritious food for breastfeeding mothers

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14; 12 p.m.

Virtual event

Join the Kitchen Divas on Zoom to learn more about preparing meals and treats to nourish breastfeeding mothers. Presented by non-profit Black Women for Wellness. Here's MORE INFO.

Pick up some fresh produce in the San Gabriel Valley

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14; 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Pomona Wellness Community-- 750 S Park Avenue Pomona, CA 91766

A drive-through giveaway of fresh produce, masks, hand sanitizer, home goods and baby supplies for San Gabriel Valley families that "identify as African-American, Black and/or African descent" with at least one child in the family. Here's MORE INFO.

Connect the dots between health disparities and solutions

THURSDAY, APRIL 15; 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.

Virtual event

A conversation about centering and improving outcomes for Black mothers between March of Dimes Greater Los Angeles' Mashariki Kudumu, Black Women for Wellness Executive Director Jan Robinson Flint, Frontline Doulas Co-Director Khefri Riley, Black Infant Health Long Beach Licensed Clinical Social Worker Angie Dixon-Hamlett and Riverside University Health System-Public Health's Stephanie Bryant. Here's MORE INFO.

Learn how collaboration can improve the health of Black families

THURSDAY, APRIL 15; 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Virtual event

A roundtable discussion between clinicians, family members, birth workers and advocates for Black maternal health hosted by March of Dimes Greater Los Angeles, Zeta Phi Beta, Inc. Pasadena chapter and Links, Inc. San Fernando Valley chapter. Join via Zoom meeting ID: 903 596 5996

Honor lost pregnancies and babies

FRIDAY, APRIL 16; 9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Virtual event

Join the Antelope Valley African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Initiative in remembering those lost in pregnancy and infancy. Here's MORE INFO.

Refill needed family supplies

FRIDAY, APRIL 16; 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Miller Family Health Education Center -- 3820 Cherry Ave. Long Beach, CA 90807

The Long Beach Black Infant Health program is giving away diapers, wipes, educational materials for kids and more. Participants must register on Eventbrite and can call or text 562-246-6218 with questions. Here's MORE INFO.

Get to know your pelvic floor

FRIDAY, APRIL 16; 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Virtual event

Learn how to prep your pelvic floor for labor, ask questions about preventing prolapse and tearing and more during this workshop from the Children's Collective Black Infant Health Program. Here's MORE INFO.

Love yourself

FRIDAY, APRIL 16; 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Virtual event

Self care...in this pandemic? Licensed clinical social worker and mental health entrepreneur Nakeya Fields leads a workshop on self-love, accountability, forgiveness and accessing mental health resources. Here's MORE INFO.

Amplify the experiences of Black mothers

MONDAY, APRIL 19; 2-3:00 p.m.

Virtual event

March of Dimes Greater Los Angeles Maternal and Infant Health Director Mashariki Kudumu and journalist Kimberly Seals Aller discuss how to uplift the stories of Black mothers and her new app, Irth, "a tool for Black and brown parents to use in creating accountability around bias and racism in maternity and infant care." The event is hosted by the Los Angeles Public Library with March of Dimes and the initiative Cherished Futures. Here's MORE INFO.

Listen to some podcasts

ANYTIME

NATAL describes itself as a "podcast docuseries about having a baby while Black." Co-Executive Producer Gabrielle Horton is an Inglewood native and season one features several Southern California voices. Here's MORE INFO.

I'm Just Saying - Two Black Women with Opinions is hosted by Jan Robinson-Flint and Adjoa Jones. Throughout Black Maternal Health Week they'll discuss topics including finance, healthy relationships, mourning, mental health and skincare. Here's MORE INFO