A Racial Equity Initiative MBC

Calling all Black clients of Minnesota Birth Center – YOUR voice matters

MBC is excited to announce a racial equity initiative. We can’t do this initiative without your input. We’re holding a focus group for U.S. born Black clients in November. Please read on for important information about how you can participate! 

Photo by Taylor Wright on Unsplash

Why:

There are racial disparities in maternity care for several racial and ethnic groups in the US. Data continue to show that US born Black people have some of the worst birth outcomes of all racial and ethnic groups. The research is clear that this is due to the historical and current experience of racism. Racism causes significant stress on Black bodies and racism has been well documented in health care institutions. 

Due to these realities, we are interested in hearing from our Black clients. As a practice, we are committed to racial equity.  Already our outcomes in racial equity are much better than national trends, but we would like to improve even more.  Additionally we want to ensure that all of our Black clients have an outstanding experience with their care.  

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

What: 

A 2 hour facilitated discussion (live via Zoom) for US born Black current and past clients. This discussion will be led by a culturally reflective facilitator from the community who is not a MBC staff member. Individuals will be compensated for their time upon participation in the facilitated session. We will pay $50 for actively participating in the focus group discussion, with multiple choices for payment (check or gift card option). 

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

Who: 

We are seeking participation of self-identified US born Black patients who have received or are receiving care from Minnesota Birth Center. It is not a requirement to have birthed at MBC or have been a pregnant patient as long as you have received care in some capacity, such as contraceptive care, an annual exam, etc. At this time we are focused on our own clients and are not seeking participation from partners, doulas, or other support people. 

While we intend to continue this work and conduct future facilitated discussions, this group is specifically for US-born Black/African-American clients. If you identify as biracial or multiracial but feel that your experience is closest to African-Americans, this group is also for you.

Photo by Larry Crayton on Unsplash

Where: 

To participate in the focus group please sign up by completing this Google form. The facilitated discussion will be hosted virtually on Zoom. To respect the privacy of participants, personally identifiable information will remain confidential and the content of the discussion will not be shared outside of the organization.  

When: 

The session will be conducted on Monday November 16, 2020 from 6-8pm. We ask that participants enroll by Thursday, November 12. Participation will be first come, first served. Once we meet capacity for the session, other interested people will be put on a waitlist and contacted if a spot becomes available.

Questions? Email claudia@theminnesotabirthcenter.com

Sign up here


Further reading on racial disparities in maternal newborn care and outcomes:

Why Racial Gaps in Maternal Mortality PersistNPR, 2019
Article Takeaway: NPR examines the “implicit racial bias in healthcare” and underlying disparities in pregnancy-related preventable deaths. Some ways this has been explained include variations in the rates of underlying chronic conditions and differences in hospital quality. However, there is increasing evidence to suggest that racism, more than race, is the cause of these disparities in healthcare.

Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death CrisisNew York Times, 2018
Article Takeaway: The New York Times guides readers through the story of Simone Landrum, a Black woman whose third pregnancy ended in stillbirth despite ignored warning signs throughout and missed opportunities for possible intervention. Landrum ultimately gave birth to a healthy baby boy the following year, guided through an entirely different experience of pregnancy with the help of a doula advocating for her needs. 

This article evaluates the crisis of higher rates of infant and maternal mortality for Black women regardless of financial status or education. It is clear that “For black women in America, an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism can create a kind of toxic physiological stress, resulting in conditions…that lead directly to higher rates of infant and maternal death.” 

Eliminating Racial Disparities in Maternal and Infant Mortality – Center for American Progress, 2019
Article Takeaway: In this report, read a blueprint that authors put forward to address disparities and preventable deaths in infant and maternal health outcomes that are rooted in the structural racism of healthcare. Recommendations include detailed steps to improving access to critical services, improving the quality of care to pregnant women, addressing maternal and infant mental health, enhancing support for families before and after birth, and improving data collection and oversight. 

Why Black Women Face More Health Risks Before, During and After PregnancyBoston University, 2019
Article Takeaway: Boston University researchers examine intergenerational and chronic stress as a result of racism in healthcare leading to increased risk of preventable death for Black women in pregnancy in the United States. This article discusses the need to care for women throughout the lifespan and even prior to conception rather than solely focusing on care during pregnancy. The article ends with a cautiously optimistic “dream [that] we have a system where we help women through all stages of their life cycle, and a system committed to dismantling systemic and institutional racism and implicit bias inside the healthcare system and outside.”

Ahh-mazing herbal baths

Most people who know of the care offered at the Minnesota Birth Center also have first-hand knowledge of the signature blend of herbs that are steeped into a soothing postpartum herbal bath for each of our clients. These herbs are not only comforting and relaxing after labor, but promote circulation and healing as well.

If you’ve ever wondered what herbs are used in that special recipe, here are the super-secret (shhh!) ingredients:

  • Comfrey leaf – anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, encourages new cell growth
  • Lavender flowers – anti-inflammatory, promotes relaxation
  • Calendula flowers – anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, promotes wound healing
  • Rosemary leaf – anti-oxidant, uplifting
  • Plantain leaf – anti-inflammatory, relieves pain and itching
  • Sea salt – anti-microbial, wound healing properties

Want to learn more about the prenatal, birth, and postpartum care offered at the Minnesota Birth Center? Schedule an orientation!

MBC Needs Your Help!

To our birth center clients, friends, and supporters 

The birth centers of Minnesota need your help to ensure fair payment for the care we provide! 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently released a proposed updated Minnesota Uniform Companion Guide (MUCG). The MUCG is a document published by MDH that helps clinics correctly bill for care they provide. In turn, it also helps insurance companies know what claims to expect from those clinics. 

There is a BIG problem with how this guide explains birth center billing that impacts reimbursement we receive from insurance companies. The birth centers of Minnesota have been working with insurance companies for a long time to fix the problem with no success. However, we now have an opportunity to have our voices heard loud and clear because the proposed MUCG is currently in a public comment period.

Here’s some background on the problem and why it matters to us:

In 2010, a state law was enacted to allow birth centers to legally operate and bill insurance companies for the care they provide. At first, there was a lot of confusion over how that billing was supposed to happen. Birth centers were on their own to negotiate contracts with insurance companies, but we did it!  

Several years ago – with limited input from birth centers – a section was added to the MUCG to “help” facilitate birth center billing. Unfortunately, this section says that birth centers should not be paid for the use of the facility by babies born at the birth center. While insurance companies don’t have to explicitly follow the guidance of the MUCG, many do which significantly reduces fair payment to birth centers for services delivered.

This information in the MUCG is misleading and contrary to the medical practices of our birth centers. When a baby is born at the birth center, they are a second client. We have equipment, medication, supplies, additional staff, and training that is all specific to newborns. Some companies say that because birth centers do not have a nursery, they should not receive the facility payment. The problem with that argument is that most babies at the hospital don’t use the nursery! Many hospitals allow, and in fact favor “rooming in”, keeping the mother and baby together in one room. They are still reimbursed for the facilities offered to the newborn, while birth centers are not. 

Ultimately, we need these newborn facility funds to help us keep our doors open and to help you bring your beautiful babies into this world. The newborn facility charge is critical funding that preserves an out-of-hospital option for so many families.

Here’s how you can help:

Please help us tell MDH that the MUCG as written is not acceptable. We’ve included a sample letter here that details what needs to change. It has a space for you to put your own comments in about your experience at the birth center and what it meant to you. You are also welcome to draft your own letter! We believe if enough of our birth center clients, staff, and supporters send this letter or one like it to MDH they will take notice and will make a change. 

  • Send a letter in WORD format (MDH’s preference for public comments) by 4:00pm Wednesday, August 26
  • Preferred: Submit via e-mail to health.asaguides@state.mn.us
    – OR – 
  • By mail: addressed to Susie Blake, Minnesota Department of Health, P.O. Box 64882, St. Paul, MN 55164-0822,
    – OR – 
  • Fax to (651) 201-3830

Thank you for your support!

In gratitude,

~ The MN Chapter of the American Association of Birth Centers, including:

Health Foundations Birth + Women’s Health Clinic
Minnesota Birth Center
River Valley Birth Center
Roots Community Birth Center
Willow Midwives