05-18-2024  7:29 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
Photo credit: Time Magazine
Published: 18 April 2024

Elaine Welteroth is on a mission to safeguard maternal health one birth at a time.

This week (which also happens to be Black Maternal Health Week), the mother, journalist, and TV host launched birthFUND, a fund that supports families in the U.S. who can’t afford the out-of-pocket costs of midwifery care.

“It all started with a little Instagram fundraiser for my birthday that raised enough money to cover the cost of birth care for not one but two families in just 16 hours,” Welteroth explained in an Instagram post. “Then I called on some friends, corporate partners, and beloved birth workers who formed a powerful founding funding circle. We are creating a safety net of resources for families across the country to expand immediate access to quality, life-saving maternal health care.”

birthFUND is a foundation that advocates and invests in midwifery care and the inclusion of birth workers in the birth experience, according to the birthFUND site. They match individual funders with families in need of support during pregnancy and labor. 

“Insurance, healthcare, and legislators aren’t changing fast enough to save the lives of mothers and birthing parents so we’re stepping in to create change ourselves,” reads the birthFUND mission statement. “We believe in a world in which every birthing person has access to safe, affirming, and joyful birthing care.”

To achieve this mission, Welteroth has joined forces with other celebrity founders and investors, including John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Kelly Rowland, and tennis champion and birthFUND co-founder Serena Williams.

“Having babies in America was a wake-up call for both of us,” Williams said of the partnership in an op-ed for Time Magazine coauthored by Welteroth. “We have both accomplished a lot in our lives and careers [and] needless to say, we can do hard things. But nothing made us feel as disempowered as being pregnant and Black in America, left to rely upon a medical system that is statistically failing people who look like us.”

Williams nearly died during the delivery of her first child in 2017 and had to undergo four surgeries afterward. The United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the world, according to TK. Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than non-Black mothers. The World Health Organization reports that Midwifery care could avert more than 80% of all maternal deaths, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths. 

Welteroth and birthFUND hope to remove financial barriers that keep women from accessing this lifesaving care. 

“We want to be part of creating solutions that change not only the conversation but also the standard of birth care in this country,” Welteroth and Williams wrote. “Parents deserve access to safe, dignified care. Right now, that human right is out of reach for far too many.”

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