April 11-17 is Black Maternal Health Week, an important time for Louisiana to focus on one of its big health challenges: the disparities in health outcomes for women of color and their children.
Louisiana consistently ranks amongst the lowest in important benchmarks for maternal health. We experience higher infant mortality rates, pregnancy-related deaths, premature births and other worrying trends. More alarmingly, Black women in Louisiana are four times as likely to experience these outcome than their white counterparts.
A few years ago, we entered into a partnership with Sista Midwife Productions, an organization focused on training Healthy Birth Ambassadors to coach, assist and empower Black families during pregnancy and the first few months with a new baby. Led by the dynamic Nicole Deggins, Sista Midwife launched its training program over the course of the pandemic, and has already reached hundreds of families with services that are improving birth outcomes.
The evidence is clear: when women have someone to support them when it comes time to deliver, particularly someone from a shared experience, they are far more likely to be able to give birth in a way that isn’t traumatic and the health outcomes for families are better across the board.
We continue to seek partnerships that improve maternal health outcomes. If you, your organization, or someone in your community is working in this space and would like to discuss opportunities with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
BCBSLA Foundation President &
Head of Community Relations