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The Zetas in Brooklyn Just Hosted A Panel on Maternal Mortality and The Importance of Doulas in The Black Community

Zeta Phi Beta’s Sigma Kappa Zeta Chapter of Brooklyn, NY hosted their 2nd Annual Maternal Health Workshop on ‘Why Doula Services are Important in Addressing the Implicit Biases Experienced When Caring for Pregnant Women of Color’ at the 49th Annual NYSABPRL Conference this past weekend in Albany, engaging discussion on understanding the doula legislation and its impact on community driven care.

According to the March of Dimes, the mortality rate in the U.S. is 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. However, for non-Hispanic black women it is 43.5 per 100,000 live births versus 12.7 for white women.

Doulas are professionals trained in childbirth who provide emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, in labor, or has recently given birth. Unfortunately most insurance companies currently do not explicitly cover doulas. The objective of the Zeta workshop was to explain the doula legislation currently being reviewed in New York, discuss the effects of doula legislation on doula care in the state, outline the benefits on doula care, and to provide options to advocating and supporting doula services and its impact on community driven care. 

The workshop featured an educational and engaging panel discussion and was sponsored by Assemblywoman Kim Jean-Pierre and conference chair Assemblywoman Latrice M. Walker. It was funded by March of Dimes.

Since its inception, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., has championed service initiatives designed to address the societal mores, ills, prejudices, and poverty affecting humanity in general, the black community in particular. In 1972, Zeta Phi Beta partnered with the March of Dimes and adopted the Stork’s Nest Program, an incentive program that provides pregnant young women with prenatal and postnatal education, parenting information and necessities for their newborns. 

Black women in the United State die at a rate that ranges from 3 to 4 times higher than their white counterparts. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (2016) report on Severe Maternal Morbidity (SMM), the community districts with the highest SMM rates are located in Brooklyn: Brownsville, East Flatbush and East New York. Most deliveries in these neighborhoods were to Black non-Latina women: 76% of all deliveries in Brownsville, 87% in East Flatbush and 52% of all deliveries in East New York were to Black non-Latina women. 

“We cannot sit idly by while our community continues to suffer in these ways, we are an action-oriented organization and we are calling ourselves to action in the form of developing opportunities to educate our community in hopes of empowering them to become advocates for their individual health!” the chapter stated in a press release.

“As a sorority comprised largely of African American women and as a chapter located in Brooklyn, we are very concerned with the many health issues that seem to plague our women.”