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Milwaukee ZIP code with highest infant mortality rate to get 100 doulas

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Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-02 20:03:30-04

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett approved a new program Tuesday to help fight infant mortality in one of the most challenged ZIP codes in the city.

In the last few years, infant mortality has decreased across Milwaukee except in the 53206 ZIP code. A new program hopes to change that.

City officials hope placing 100 doulas in the 53206 ZIP code will help moms during and after pregnancy.

The primarily African American ZIP code has the highest rate of infant mortality in the city.

Barrett signed the file Tuesday at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church.

“It is a serious problem when you look at the racial gap that exists in Milwaukee infant mortality rate when you’re looking at African American babies compared to other babies in this city," said Barrett.

The program connects moms with doulas through what’s called strong baby sanctuaries around the area.

“It is a serious problem when you look at the racial gap that exists in Milwaukee infant mortality rate when you’re looking at African American babies compared to other babies in this city." — Mayor Tom Barrett

The church is one of those Strong Baby Sanctuaries where expecting and new moms can get services for their children.

Alderman Khalif Rainey says it’s an important step toward correcting a dire problem.

"If the issues of 53206 aren’t discussed, whether it is the incarceration or infant mortality, we have missed the mark,” said Rainey.

County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic recently had her second child and understands the need for doulas.

“It’s about serving the woman and the mother, uplifting our needs, and making sure we are empowered and informed to make the best decision possible,” said Dimitrijevic.

Cami Thomas is a doula in the area, and that is exactly what she does every day.

“The most amazing thing is when a mom understands she can do it,” said Thomas.

One hundred doulas is just a pilot program for the city but could increase, especially as Gov. Tony Evers' budget proposal has a recommendation to push for more women’s health that also mentions doulas.