From a Place of Love: The Experiences of Birthing in a Black-Owned Culturally-Centered Community Birth Center

J Health Dispar Res Pract. 2022 Summer;15(2):47-60.


Introduction: Racial and ethnic disparities in perinatal health outcomes are among the greatest threats to population health in the United States. Black birthing communities are most impacted by these inequities due to structural racism throughout society and within health care settings. Although multiple studies have shown that structural racism and the disrespect associated with this system of inequity are the root causes of observed perinatal inequities, little scholarship has centered the needs of Black birthing communities to create alternative care models. Leaning on reproductive justice and critical race theoretical frameworks, this study explores good birth experiences as described by Black birthing people.

Methods: Thematic analysis of two focus groups and three one-on-one interviews conducted with clients at a Black-owned free-standing culturally-centered birth center (n=10).

Results: We found that Black birthing persons' concerns centered on three main themes: agency, historically- and culturally-safe birthing experiences, and relationship-centered care. Many participants pointed directly to past experiences of medical mistreatment and obstetric racism when defining their ideal birth experience.

Conclusion: Black birthing people seeking care from culturally-informed providers often do so because they have been mistreated, disregarded, and neglected within traditional care settings. The needs articulated by our study participants provide a powerful framework for understanding alternative patient-centered models of care that can be developed to improve the care experiences of Black birthing people in the pursuit of birth equity.

Keywords: birth outcomes; health equity.