Learn about our story, mission, and values.
Birth Center Equity was created to make birth center care an option in every community, by growing and sustaining birth centers led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).
We envision a world where every community has access to a birth center.
These callers, often people far along in their pregnancy, were seeking a safe place to give birth, somewhere that was not a hospital overwhelmed with COVID-19. What they sought was the safety of a community birth center, a homelike facility where prenatal, labor, birth, and postpartum care is provided in the midwifery and wellness model, and birthing people are supported to make informed decisions about how and where they birth.
In our first 8 months BCE:
- Distributed $100,000 directly to 15 BIPOC-led community birth centers through our COVID Rapid Response Fund. These funds had immediate impact, supporting at-home perinatal care kits, virtual perinatal education, conversion of exam rooms to birth suites, and a portable fetal monitor that allowed a midwife to attend a birth in a homeless shelter.
- Distributed $250,000 to 25 BIPOC-led community birth centers to support general operations, infrastructure development, and Giving Tuesday match campaigns.
- Gathered together a vibrant network of BIPOC-led community birth center leaders who are strengthening their collective leadership and self-determination to access resources at scale to care for families in their communities.
Moving into the future, BCE is poised to generate an abundant nationwide community birth center infrastructure and to bring forth the wisdom, vision, relationships, and strength that community birth centers offer the world.
Understanding Birth Center Equity
Racial inequity is a major barrier to community birth center access. In the past decade, the number of birth centers in the country grew, yet, many communities of color remain woefully behind the rest of the nation in access to birth centers.
At a time when disparities in maternal and infant mortality persist in communities of color, and an increasing number of perinatal clinics and labor and delivery hospitals close, access to community-based midwifery care is more important than ever. BIPOC-led community birth centers are answering this call, organizing to meet community needs for safe, high quality, culturally reverent prenatal, postpartum and birth care.
Our health-care system was not designed with equity at the center—in fact, it was originally designed to the full exclusion of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. By contrast, community birth centers are designed to reflect the stories and dreams and heal the frustrations and traumas of people and families who are usually not centered in the design of health-care spaces.
Patient-centered care and shared decision-making are hallmarks of midwifery care. As birth centers implement necessary COVID-19 screening and prevention protocols, they are maintaining key elements of midwifery practice that have significant health benefits, like allowing support persons to be present at births and keeping newborns and birthing parents together to support breast and chestfeeding success. Moreover, community-based birth centers, especially those led by people of color, honor and respect cultural and spiritual traditions that are essential in times of crisis.
Using evidence-based models of care and trained professionals, we can increase safe birth options for all our children and grandchildren. Today’s babies—and tomorrow’s generations—cannot wait.
Birth Center Equity Resources
- The 2020 report “Birth Settings in America: Outcomes, Quality, Access, and Choice” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2020) recognizes birth centers as an integral part of integrated health systems.
- The Strong Start 2018 report by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), demonstrates that birth centers improve outcomes by addressing physical and social health concerns, from reducing preterm birth rates and low or very low birth weight (leading causes of infant mortality) to increasing breastfeeding initiation and ensuring patients feel respected by their healthcare team.
- The National Perinatal Task Force’s 2018 report “Building a Movement to Birth a More Just and Loving World” calls for community-led access to quality, culturally-congruent health care and services.
The American Association of Birth Centers is the national multidisciplinary membership organization dedicated to the birth center model of care.