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With a black maternal mortality rate over twice as high as that of White women, The Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative has one main goal: improve maternal health outcomes for black women. To that end, Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative Executive Director LaBrisa Williams created a series of programs for women of color in Oklahoma. They center around maternal healthcare disparities.

Black maternal mortality rate

Black and Indigenous women are at least two to three times more likely to die from child birth as White women, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ensuring that the programs are community-driven and focused on the needs women of color is an integral aspect of the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative. In an interview with the Black Wall St Times, Ms. Williams explained the importance of addressing these concerns. “We know maternal healthcare disparities exist,” said Ms. Williams, “and along with addressing these issues, we want respectful maternity care for women of color.” 

Of the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative programs, Ms. Williams notes, “Those who are affected by healthcare issues are also the most equipped to find solutions for those issues. We can only find solutions when we identify the problems.” Indeed, the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative started with data on maternal healthcare outcomes. It then engaged community members to co-create their support programs.

Programs empower and protect mothers of color

To that end, the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative has several programs to support women of color and their families. Moreover, they encourage individuals and healthcare providers alike to create exceptional client-centered care. Another focus is ensuring that these marginalized women are supported by others who have shared lived experiences, including a program in which  participants are provided a doula for birth support. 

Ms. Williams explained that the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative works with several organizations to address maternal health disparities. The goal is to ensure Black women and other women of color are treated with respect. The Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative often partners with the North Tulsa Community Coalition, Healthy Start, Healthy Women Healthy Futures, and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance

Other programs with the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative include a hospital quality improvement program, and pre-conception care for black women with chronic healthcare issues. For Black Maternal Health Week, the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative is hosting a virtual town on April 15th at 6:30PM that features Black mothers and a father, birth workers, and healthcare providers. 

tulsa black maternal mortality
LaBrisa Williams, Executive Director for Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative. / Facebook photo

(Editor’s note: The Black Wall Street Times is a sponsor for the event.)

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...

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