Click here to Join the Movement to Display ‘Incarceration Nation’ on Billboards – Art Activism

Philly community baby shower bridges resource gap for expecting mothers

Aasiyah Conyers is pregnant and due in November. On Saturday, she showed up at the community baby shower hosted inside Temple University’s Amarak STAR Complex.

There, spread across the artificial turf field, were dozens of tables hosted by Philadelphia city agencies, community organizations, and health providers who were sharing information about social services, maternal health, and child care opportunities.

“A lot of the programs here, they help you from pregnancy to birth. So if I need help, they’ll come [do] house visits and everything,” Conyers said. “So, I can learn as I go. I don’t have to really watch YouTube or nothing. I can get first-hand experience with people who are actually knowledgeable about this.”

Jasmine Tucker (left) poses for a photo with her expecting daughter Aasiyah Conyers (right)
Jasmine Tucker (left) and her expecting daughter Aasiyah Conyers (right) were ecstatic to attend the community baby shower organized by Philadelphia health providers and Pa. State Senator Sharif Street’s office on July 8, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Community baby showers like this one in North Philadelphia have become one-stop-shops for expecting mothers and their families who may struggle to access resources elsewhere.

Maternal health experts say the events are especially important in Black and brown communities, given that people of color see higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity.

“We have to put our energy and our focus on making Black birth better, making Black birth safer,” said Dr. Sharee Livingston, OB/GYN department chair at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

People gather around a craft table.
Sankofa hosted a craft table for children at the community baby shower organized by Philadelphia health providers and Pa. State Senator Sharif Street’s office on July 8, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Black women and birthing people are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication than white women, according to federal data.

“It has not always been this way,” Livingston said of the racial disparities in birthing outcomes. “Systemic racism, current and historical inequalities, social determinants of health, implicit bias — all those things play a role in the current crisis we see now.”

Of the 25 pregnancy-related deaths recorded in 2018 in Pennsylvania, most of them — 92% — were preventable, according to the state’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

Organizers of Saturday’s community baby shower said they wanted to make it easier for people to find prenatal services and other types of care, such as nutrition, yoga, sleep education, and more, which can become protective factors against maternal and infant morbidity.

Instructor Jamilah Myann with Yoga 4 Philly leads prenatal yoga at the community baby shower
Instructor Jamilah Myann with Yoga 4 Philly leads prenatal yoga at the community baby shower on July 8, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

At some tables, people lined up to get free diapers, portable bassinets, and other baby items.

“Sometimes, you send parents from one office to another. This way, they don’t have to go down to Center City, up to North Philly, down to South Philly to find resources that can be delivered to them right in their community,” said state Rep. Donna Bullock.

An up-close view of stacks of diapers.
The CLDA diaper bank handed out free diaper at the community baby shower in Philadelphia on July 8, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

More than 30 vendors attended the community baby shower hosted by state Sen. Sharif Street, Rep. Bullock, Temple University, Temple Health, N.O.R.T.H. Inc. WIC, Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation, and UPMC for You.

A mother holds her child in the middle of the event room.
Philadelphia health providers and Pa. State Senator Sharif Street’s office hosted a community baby shower that provided resources to families on July 8, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Conyers attended the community baby shower with her mother, Jasmine Tucker. The duo collected a stack of pamphlets, flyers, and business cards, all with information for local organizations providing pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum care.

“It’s exciting, because it helps us learn about pregnancy, breastfeeding, and things we didn’t know about,” Tucker said.

Aveeion Weems also attended the shower with her mother, Crystal Boddie. Weems has been a practicing doula for about two years and said she can help people both in traditional and non-traditional birthing environments.

“Some people don’t want to always go into the hospital, they want to be in their comfortable zone,” Weems said. “I feel like there should be more doulas and midwives out there.”

Doula of 2 years, Aveeion Weems (right) and mom Crystal Bodeie (left), attended the community baby shower in Philadelphia
Doula of 2 years, Aveeion Weems (right) and mom Crystal Bodeie (left), attended the community baby shower in Philadelphia on July 8, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Boddie said not enough people even know about doulas, who are non-medical, trained professionals who provide guidance and support in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care.

“If they gave the community more resources [about doulas], I think that they would benefit from that,” Boddie said.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

This post was originally published on this site