NewsNationalTwo Americas

Detroit midwife clinic works to cut pregnancy-related deaths for Black women

Posted at 5:53 PM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 17:53:28-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — There’s the America you know, and the one you might not.

In our Two Americas, we’re giving you a closer look at a troubling statistic regarding Black maternal health. If you’re Black and pregnant, you’re three times more likely than if you were white, to die from a pregnancy-related cause.

Black women in Detroit are at a distinct disadvantage because of more limited options for quality care, by providers who look like them.

A lone Detroit clinic is bridging the gap simply by giving women an alternative.

“She’s here now, she’s on my heart Ameera,” says Patricia Pouncy, whose daughter died from a postpartum hemorrhage.

Clutched in her hand is a constant reminder of what’s been lost.

”Everywhere I go I carry Nakita with me,” Pouncy says.

The unthinkable happened to her daughter Nakita who’d entered a hospital but never emerged. Just a day after giving birth, she succumbed to a complication that would leave her newborn, Natahaniel, and 11 of his siblings without their mom.

“Right now, I’m hurting,” says Pouncy.

Black women are three times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes.

“The state of birth in America is not working for black women,” says Char’ly Snow, a midwife who was driven into the profession not long after having her own troubling experience.

“I, personally, was a statistic,” Snow says. “I had a postpartum hemorrhage with my first child.”

That’s the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide, but snow says she was completely unaware.

Because of the heightened risk for subsequent pregnancies, studies show Black women are more likely to experience poor communication, have their symptoms dismissed, and pain mismanaged, in part because of implicit bias.

“Midwifery care has proven it’s safe, cost-effective, quality care, that improves birth outcomes,” says Snow.

There are 400 midwifery-led birth centers across the country, but not a single one in the City of Detroit. Here, cradled in a home in a neighborhood off of McNichols is a clinic working to change that.

At the midwifery-run Birth Detroit, women are finding their voice and creating a joyful pregnancy.

Miranda Moy and her wife, now expecting their first child, sought out the Black-run clinic out of anxiety.

“You feel unsafe sometimes. You feel like if I ask this doctor a certain question, they may not understand me,” Moy says. “Really, really important that we had someone we could relate to.”

Someone who looks like them. Services here are so in demand that small donors in this community helped fund the purchase of a lot.

“First phase will be about 3 thousand square feet,” says Snow.

The clinic will expand into a 12 thousand square foot birth center.

“This is going to be a game changer because it’s going to expose our community to a new option.”

And to renewed hope for a world, without history repeating.

Birth Detroit is still relying on funding from the community to continue with the development of the birth center. If you’d like to help, you can donate here: