June 3, 2020

Improving the Birth and Health Outcome for Black Moms and Babies

“There is a significant amount of evidence that shows that healthcare providers hold stereotypes based on a patient’s race, class, sex, and other characteristics. This influences their interpretation of behaviors and symptoms, and even their overall clinical decisions.”states this week’s podcast guest, Alexandra Samuel-Sturgess

The CDC reports that black mothers in the US are 3 to 4 times more at risk of maternal mortality regardless of socioeconomic status and education than white women. These statistics are just the beginning of shining a light on the racial disparity seen in the birthing world. 

In this episode of Yoga|Birth|Babies, I speak with Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Founder of Spirited By Truth, Alexandra Samuel-Sturgess. Alex has been working in the perinatal mental health field and creating a safe space for women of color for almost two decades. In this our conversion, Alex explains the maternal health racial disparities and openly talks about unconscious biases in the medical world. One reason I was so drawn to speaking with Alex is her approach to this work is a solution based on both a systemic level and the personal level. Enjoy this lively and important conversation.

In this episode:

  • Learn a bit about Alex and how she got started on this career path 
  • How did having family members who suffered from PMAD and perinatal loss affect the trajectory of her work 
  • The mission of Spirited by Truth
  • What is going on in the birthing world and maternal health world racial disparities 
  • The black maternal health care crisis and some of the statistics of black birth outcomes in the US 
  • The disparity of women of color getting mental health support 
  • Unconscious biases in the medical system and how to that affects women and babies 
  • Suggest for someone experiencing racial biases during their prenatal care or in the hospital during labor
  • The impact of chromic stress on women of color. 
  • Examining solutions on a systemic level and the personal level
  • Breaking these tips down more
  • Ways to deal address the chronic stress for the mother and baby 
  • Healthier eating and exercise while still honoring cultural cuisine 
  • Empowering autonomy and informed consent 
  • Resources for finding doulas or information and support both during pregnancy and postpartum
  • A piece of advise or tip you can offer new and expectant parents
  • Where you can find Alex’s work 

About Alexandra Samuel-Sturgess:

Alexandra Samuel-Sturgess is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Founder of Spirited By Truth, a private practice located in Ontario, CA. She specializes in perinatal mental health and creates a safe space in her private practice for women of color to focus on their own healing. Alexandra is the Aunt to an Angel Baby and Sister of A Postpartum Survivor. Spirited By Truth came to fruition due to the overwhelming need to provide holistic pregnancy and postpartum mental health services catered to the needs of women of color. She is passionate about prenatal and postpartum education and providing culturally responsive treatment for Women of Color seeking mental health services.  At Spirited By Truth, she provides mental health services, education, community, and support for expecting women of color to assist in the fight towards healthier birth outcomes for women and infants.

Connect with Alex: @spiritedbytruth on Facebook and Instagram

Resources Alex Mentioned in the Show:

Articles for Reference: 

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pmss.html

2. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (2016). Severe Maternal Morbidity in New York City, 2008–2012. New York, NY. Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/data/maternal-morbidity-report-08-12.pdf 

3. Review to Action. (2018) Report from Nine MMRCs. Retrieved from http://reviewtoaction.org/sites/default/files/national-portal-material/Report%20from%20Nine%20MMRCs%20final%20edit.pdf

5. Howell, A. E., Egorova, N., Balbierz, A., Zeitlin, J., & Hebert, P. (2016). Black-White Differences in Severe Maternal Morbidity and Site of Care Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Jan; 214(1): 122.e1–122.e7.

6. Hoffman, M. K., Trawalter, S., Axt, R. J., & Oliver, N. (2016). Racial bias in pain assessment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113 (16) 4296-4301

7. AAMC Facts & Figures (2016). Diversity in Medical Education. Retrieved from http://www.aamcdiversityfactsandfigures2016.org/report-section/section-3/#figure-20

9. California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative. Retrieved from https://www.cmqcc.org/resources-tool-kits/toolkits

10. Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Healthcare. Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM). Retrieved from https://safehealthcareforeverywoman.org/aim-program/

11. Amnesty International. (2012). Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the US. Retrieved from https://www.amnestyusa.org/files/pdfs/deadlydelivery.pdf

f you love what you’ve been listening to, please leave a rating and review! Yoga| Birth|Babies

To connect with Deb and the PYC Community: 

instagram & facebook: @prenatalyogacenter

Youtube: Prenatal Yoga Center




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