Originally published on The Bay, a KQED program.

The U.S. ranks 55th in the world in maternal mortality rates. Those rates are even worse for Black women, whose maternal mortality rate is more than two times higher than any other racial or ethnic group. Patients and advocates cite lower access to quality care and racism in the medical system as main drivers of these outcomes.

A program in Alameda County is providing an answer to that problem. BElovedBIRTH Black Centering, operating through the Alameda Health System in partnership with the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD), is completely rethinking what birthing looks like for Black folks. The program provides group perinatal care by, for, and with Black people — and it’s leading to better outcomes for the families involved.