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City health department launches program to help curb alarming birth statistics amongst Black babies and mothers

Posted at 10:29 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 23:42:28-05

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services is taking a big step forward in helping Black mothers and babies in the 53206 zip code.

Alarming data from the Milwaukee County Health Department shows that Black babies in Milwaukee are three times more likely to die before their first birthday compared to white babies.

The staggering data prompted health officials to pilot the Birth Outcomes Made Better program which will employ 50 doulas to help Black mothers in the 53206 area.

Doulas are not medical professionals, but can provide emotional and physical support for women during pregnancy and childbirth.

The BOMB Doula Program is under the City of Milwaukee Health Department and the community based Doula initiative is a partnership between the City of Milwaukee Health Department and the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services

In this case, the health department is taking a community approach to specifically train and hire doulas within the 53206 zip code. Their aim is to provide advocates for women before, during, and after labor.

"A lot of the times we are missing the mark of our cultural needs, our linguistic needs, our dietary medical high-risk factors...All these things make Black women different and put us in a different category of care," said Erica Olivier, the Deputy Commissioner of Community Health.

Experts within the zip-code have noticed firsthand how the 53206 area has been affected when it comes to reproductive health.

"Clients here really need the education, they need the support. They lack a lot of resources in this zip code, which is very unfortunate," said Kay'La Mumford, a Doula with Birth and Embrace Communities.

The BOMB program will tackle the following issues:

  1. Improve maternal and infant mortality rates for enrolled mothers
  2. Diversifying mothers’ options to pregnancy support through Doulas
  3. Increase breastfeeding education and initiation rates for mothers
  4. Connection to routine prenatal and post-partum cares and health benefits
  5. Support pathways to socioeconomic stability
  6. Support and educate partners/fathers alongside mothers during pregnancy
  7. Increase engagement with healthy behaviors (i.e. mental health, prenatal visits, exercise, smoking cessation, safe sleep practices, etc.).
  8. Reproductive Life and Birth Planning

In order to be eligible for the program, you must reside in the 53206 zip code. The health department is actively looking for doulas and they say they will be providing training. They have set aside up to $52,000 in funding for the program.

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