Birthing center, postpartum retreat coming to Ferguson for expectant Black mothers

JAMAA Birth Village opened its doors in 2020 and now has plans to expand its care and resources.
Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 7:12 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Expectant mothers in the St. Louis community will now have another option for childbirth and postpartum care.

JAMAA Birth Village, in Ferguson, works with Black expectant mothers to ensure they receive the prenatal care and education needed to ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth. It focuses on affordable, Black-led midwifery and doula care, along with social support services and prenatal care.

“Typically we have people that come to us in their first trimester, as soon as they find out, we get those calls,” said JAMAA founder Okunsola Amadou. “But oftentimes we have people transfer in their care in their second trimester because they may be unhappy with the current care they’re receiving with their provider.”

Amadou said many Black mothers have negative experiences within a traditional hospital setting and often times don’t seek the medical consultations and prenatal education they need as a result.

“Oftentimes Black women voice when something is wrong or doesn’t feel right and they’re ignored because are not valued or respected in society, let alone the healthcare sector,” she said. “People want to be cared for by people that look like them and they do not have that.”

On Monday, Amadou announced JAMAA’s plan to be part of the solution, unveiling its expansion plans, which include a 5,000 square-foot Birth Center and Postpartum Retreat. It will be located on a vacant lot at the corner of Cunningham and Hereford Avenue in Ferguson.

“It’s not just about healthcare, it’s about helping people to relax and be cared for and supported,” she said.

The retreat will feature three water birth suites and four postpartum huts, where families can stay for up to one week postpartum.

“We’ll feed them with food we will grow in a garden on-site and make sure that mom and baby are healthy and thriving,” Amadou said.

JAMAA is in the middle of a $1 million, 90-day campaign to help raise money for the expansion. Amadou said she expects work to be completed by late fall 2022, potentially stretching into the beginning of 2023. To donate to the capital campaign, click here.

According to the CDC, Black women are three times as likely as white women to die of a maternal related cause. Much of the time, it’s preventable.

“The three big factors are preeclampsia, post-partum hemorrhage and prematurity,” said Dr. Anthony Odibo, the Divisional Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. “They’re at increased risk of having hypotensive disorders, which predisposes you to preeclampsia. Coming in early to identify these things is critical.”

Seeing a doctor early on in the pregnancy can help offer prenatal care and identify possible risk factors, Odibo said.

“There is a belief in the Black community that they are not cared for appropriately in most of the big teaching hospitals and this leads to mistrust,” he said. Further, he said some in the Black community do not trust traditional hospital settings.

“There is a belief in the Black community that they are not cared for appropriately in most of the big teaching hospitals and this leads to mistrust,” he said. “When they walk in, they don’t see many doctors are providers that look like them.”

Amadou said in 2015, there were five Black doulas in the St. Louis area. Now, she said there are more than 200 and the number continues to grow.

“They can serve as an advocate for Black mothers if they are in a hospital setting,” she said.

JAAMA offers care on a sliding scale and in some cases, pro bono. To find out more, visit their website.