HASC’s Communities Lifting Communities and the Public Health Alliance of Southern California hosted a unique virtual workshop on birth inequities in the Black community on July 24. The event was part of Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies, a collaborative aimed at reducing Black infant deaths and improving patient experiences and safety among Black moms and birthing people in South Los Angeles, the South Bay and Antelope Valley.
The Honorable Holly J. Mitchell delivered opening remarks and discussed SB 464, the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act. Mitchell shared how she authored the bill and shepherded its passage. She also shared her vision for respectful, equitable maternity care especially for Black mothers, and her steadfast support and call to action for perinatal care providers.
Following months of tireless advocacy, Mitchell saw SB 464 signed into law in October 2019. Aimed at improving outsized infant and maternal mortality rates that have long hurt Black families, the legislation mandates hospitals, alternative birth centers and clinics that provide birth services implement implicit bias training and track relevant statistics.
At the event, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital CEO Elaine Batchlor and Perinatal Services Manager Tammy Turner shared how the facility is implementing an equity focus and best practices that have led to improved outcomes for Black birthing women. The hospital has received statewide attention for its C-section rates, which stand at less than a third of the state average. The facility attributes its success to a unique birthing model that adds laborists and midwives to obstetrics teams.
Attendees also heard key themes from a July 12 Listening Sister Circle that convened Black pregnant and parenting people, community advocates and birth professionals who live or work in South Los Angeles, the South Bay or Antelope Valley on specific recommendations to hospital partners participating in the Cherished Futures pilot program.
In Los Angeles County, Black women and families continue to disproportionately experience higher rates of infant and maternal mortality and morbidity compared to other racial or ethnic groups. Research shows that factors such as education, income, and health status to do not fully explain the gap, and points to systemic issues such as racism and toxic stress throughout a woman’s life, that negatively impact birth outcomes.
With questions on Communities Lifting Communities or its Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies collaborative, please contact CLC Executive Director Susan Harrington.