Kalayjah Harris delivered her baby at the Alameda Health System-Family Birthing Center, her daughter A’Rorri, is now 4 months old. Harris participated in the CenteringPregnancy® group led by AHS midwives. Below is her maternity experience in her own words.

“It’s great to be a mom. A’Rorri is full of laughter and she’s just amazing. When she’s not feeling something, or when she’s tired, she will let you know. I’d say her personality is already there.

CenteringPregnancy taught me a lot about labor and delivery and the good and the bad about it — and it was just a great and amazing journey for me. Without CenteringPregnancy, I wouldn’t know what to do.

In CenteringPregnancy  you get to experience a lot with other women who are basically just like you. In my CenteringPregnancy group, everybody was having girls. We all uplifted each other. It was a wonderful experience. Sometimes I felt kind of weak and down and I had the other women to support me and tell me it was going to be OK. My story might be different from yours, but we were all pregnant at the same time. It just felt so common and relaxed that you finally have somebody to listen to what you have to say.

It is very important to be heard after birth too because a lot things are going on, especially postpartum depression. It’s just very overwhelming and you want somebody just to talk to and listen.

The staff at Highland is great. Their team is very special. They help you with anything that you need. They’re good listeners. Especially Eva, my midwife. She is the best person. She was very excited about everybody in their pregnancy. I felt very loved by Eva.

I would tell other expectant moms to come to Highland and come to CenteringPregnancy because you’ll have so much support.”

Supporting Women on Their Journey to Motherhood

In the United States, black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy or child-birth related causes than white women. As an organization with a mission of addressing health inequities and eliminating disparities in health outcomes, we are duty-bound to investigate and offer a path for these women and children who deserve better.

Providing a better approach is not new at Alameda Health System – Highland Hospital. We have had a midwife-led prenatal and delivery program for more than 40 years. Recent data suggest that the use of midwives and doulas can close the gap between outcomes for different ethnic groups.

Having midwife-led prenatal care has led to ongoing decrease in the number of cesarean births and landing Highland Hospital on the California C-section Honor Roll three consecutive years. Approximately 70 percent of all deliveries in our family birthing center are led by midwives, nearly 9 times the national average.

Our CenteringPregnancy® program, one of approximately one dozen licensed programs in California, reduces the birth rate of preterm and low weight babies; empowers moms to advocate for their health and the health of their babies; improves health outcomes; improve relationships between expectant woman and healthcare providers. This will only get better as we are expanding our CenteringPregnancy program to our Hayward Wellness Center to expand access to more women and infants.

Our World Health Organization Baby-Friendly designation for encouraging breastfeeding as the healthiest method for mom and baby help ensure ongoing health beyond the delivery well into the baby’s first year.

As a way to raise awareness around this health disparity we are sharing the success story of one of our maternity patients. Additionally, there are various symposiums taking place around the Bay Area this week that will cover what providers can do to help women of color in their pregnancy journey. See list below.

Black Maternal Health Week Events

Pediatrics Grand Rounds-Framing Infant Mortality as a Racial Equality Issue
Date: April 12
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Location: AHS-Highland Care Pavilion, Rm D&E
1411 East 31st Street, Oakland
Speaker: Kiko Malin, MSW, MPH

Decolonizing Research for Black Maternal Health
Date: April 12
Time:6:30-8:30 p.m.
Location: Mills College
5000 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland
Speakers: Dr. Chinyere Oparah, Dr. Monica McLemore, Talita Oseguera

Black Maternal Health: Acknowledging racism, Moving through merging intersections, and Committing to accountability
April 15
Time: 5:00-7:00pm
Location: UCSF-School of Nursing
2 Koret Way, Rm N225, SF
Speakers: Dr. Cynthia Greenlee, Dr. Karen Scott

What’s MISSING in the current discussions about Maternal Health?
April 16
Time: 5:00-7:30pm
Location: Red Bay Coffee Roastery & Coffee Bar
3098 E 10th St, Oakland
Speakers: Dr. Cynthia Greenlee, Dr. Karen Scott

Prioritizing Black Maternal Health: Breastfeeding, Media and Public Health
April 17
Time: 10:00am-2:00pm
Location: Eilhu Harris State Building
1515 Clay Street, Room 1, Oakland
Speakers: Dr. Kimarie Bugg, Mona Liza Hamlin, Dr. Monique Sims, Kimberly Seals Allers