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Birth center and postpartum retreat in Ferguson to address disparities in care

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Chad Davis
St. Louis Public Radio
Jamaa Birth Village Director Okunsola M. Amadou announces the Jamaa Birth Village expansion. The new facility will include three water birthing suites and four buildings where people who deliver babies can stay up to seven days.

Construction will begin soon on a new birthing center in Ferguson designed to provide Black women with better postpartum care.

The 5,000-square-foot Jamaa Birth Village Birth Center and Postpartum Retreat Haven will open its main building in the fall. When the facility is complete, it will have three water birthing suites and four “retreat huts” where people who deliver their babies can stay up to seven days. Patients will also have access to doulas and newborn care specialists.

A 2021 report by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services found that Black women were four times as likely to die within one year of a pregnancy than white women.

“You cannot have reproductive justice if you don't have access and if you don't have choice,” said Okunsola M. Amadou, founder and director of Jamaa Birth Village. “Providing people the option to have a choice to have a freestanding birth center in north county within our community where people who look like them are providing the care is everything.”

The $500,000 is an expansion of the nearby Jamaa Birth Village at 40 N. Florissant Road. Jamaa Birth Village will use the money from the organization's ongoing $1 million capital campaign to help finance the center, which will include a greenhouse for growing food.

Amadou said that people can donate to the campaign and that a third of the funds from the capital campaign will go toward the birth center. The rest will go toward initiatives to educate people on safe prenatal care and the organization's midwifery clinic.

“It will ensure that we can expand into Missouri's first black-owned birth center, and that we can keep providing this revolutionary care that we are doing right here,” said Amadou, formerly known as Brittany "Tru" Kellman.

Amadou said while that is due to socioeconomic barriers and systemic racism, the birth center is intended to address disparities in postpartum care between Black and white patients.

“We're providing that solution, and we're going to take care of them for that week,” Amadou said. “We're going to make sure we educate whoever is going to be taking care of them when they get home so that them and their babies can thrive and not just survive childbirth, we are the solution.”

Ensuring that Black people receive proper care is important, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said.

“As mayor, I want everyone to thrive across racial lines, across city-county borders, and I want to make sure that receiving quality health care is a part of that mission,” Jones said.

The facility will be an essential health service for people throughout the region, said Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, director of the St. Louis Department of Health.

“With this expansion of the Jamaa Birth Village, we will help see even more black mothers in our communities not just survive, but thrive,” Davis said. “Black women deserve high-quality maternal care. Black women deserve beautiful health experiences.”

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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