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better birth outcomes for black babies and their mothers

November 5th, 2018 | 2 min read

By Matthew Loftus

There is more and more data coming out about the risk of death for black mothers and their babies in America, so I was really encouraged to read this article about using the Centering Pregnancy model of care for black women in a midwifery practice:

Mercedez Milling-Robinson finished the Centering program last year when her daughter, her second child, was born. “I just had such a good time,” she recounted about her experience with Centering in a recent phone call with Rewire.News. For her first child, she received care from an obstetrician at another local health provider and was really unhappy with the care she received. Her appointments with her OB were really impersonal, she said, and her desire for an unmedicated labor wasn’t respected. During her delivery, she described, “they were telling me … stories about women who wanted to go natural pulling the IVs out and acting crazy to try and scare me out of my decision.” In spite of that, Milling-Robinson had delivered her son without medication. When she got pregnant again two years later, she sought out care at FHBC, which she had known about, but had been closed when her son was born.

She only had good things to say about her experience at FHBC. “I love their energy and their vibe,” she described. “My first time meeting Ebony [Marcelle, director of midwifery at the clinic] was the day I was giving birth to my daughter. She came in and fit right in and was really encouraging.” One of the things that was challenging about her first child’s delivery was that she felt like the nurses and OB were forcing her to push when she wasn’t ready. Because of that experience, she explained, “with my daughter I didn’t know when to push or when not to push.” Instead she recounted Marcelle saying: “‘You know when to push’—giving me back what [the first providers] took from me.”

Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at