It is a radical and necessary act to love ourselves and each other enough to create the changes we need.
Neighborhood Birth Center emerged out of the stories, frustrations, and longings of people and families who are usually not centered in the design of health care spaces: Black, Brown, and Indigenous, youth, immigrant, LGBTQ+, low-income and others. We recognize that in our vision and design of the space we must center the physical, emotional, and spiritual healing and care for people at the margins. We do this with joy, because everyone belongs here.
“Belonging means more than just being seen. Belonging entails having a meaningful voice and the opportunity to participate in the design of social and cultural structures. Belonging means having the right to contribute to, and make demands on, society and political institutions.
Belonging is more than just feeling included. In a legitimate democracy, belonging means that your well-being is considered and your ability to design and give meaning to its structures and institutions is realized.” -john powell
In our commitment to establishing a freestanding birthing center in Boston, we do not subscribe to health equity work that merely “services” communities of color, while staying apolitical, maintaining the status quo, or exacerbating inequity. There are traumatizing patterns of racial inequities in birth outcomes and pregnancy care in the US, and in Boston. Racism (a system of advantage) is the root cause of inequities across health outcomes and in outcomes in education, housing, food, criminal justice, and the economy. “Racism… saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources." Truthfully, the existing pregnancy care system in the US is not working well for most people - from poor physical outcomes to low patient satisfaction with birthing people feeling disempowered and not well cared for. Too often the response to inequity is to create programs designed to include or accommodate “diverse” people within the existing (broken) system rather than to acknowledge that the system was only designed to serve some.
Birth equity was first defined by Dr. Joia Crear Perry and the National Birth Equity Collaborative as “the assurance of the conditions for optimal births for all people, with a willingness to address racial and social inequities in a sustained effort.” To our knowledge, few birth centers in the country have been explicitly designed to advance equity - in organizational process and in birth outcomes. Our unique focus on developing a birth center as a means of furthering social and racial justice is an innovation with the power to significantly improve health outcomes in Boston, as well as advance birth centers, midwifery, and public health towards equity.