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Bronx community organizations push for birthing center, educate mothers in the meantime

Bronx community pushing for birthing center
Bronx community pushing for birthing center 02:22

NEW YORK -- Community organizations in The Bronx are pushing for a new birthing center, which they say could help lower the high pregnancy mortality rates Black women face there.

"This is the womb bus," said Myla Flores.

For the last year, Flores, founder of The Birthing Place, has driven around neighborhoods to help expecting mothers and families.

"I come to a Womb Bus location with a street team of birth workers," said Flores.

The team provides education for expecting mothers, and hopes the van can soon roll into a full-time, out-of-hospital birthing center.

"Birth center access is wrap around care that centers the client in the whole of their pregnancy, and gives them access to midwifery care," Flores explained.

The Womb Bus travels all across the borough, and they say within the last year, they've reached over 800 families in the Bronx. They say this is the outreach that's making a difference until they're able to finally put a permanent center in.

Flores says New York is lacking when it comes to birthing centers, as there are only three across the entire state.

"It's about making the system more equitable," said Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson.

Gibson is also pushing for a center to open. The Health Department says Black women in New York City are nine times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related cause than non-Hispanic white women.

"I think its a combination of a poor health care system and a system that has not always been accessible to many Black women," said Gibson.

Flores explains birthing centers are inexpensive compared to hospital visits and provide another safe alternative for expecting mothers to come for check-ups all the way to the birth.

"Having a birth center would save lives, significantly improve lives," said Flores.

Advocates like Flores say it's time for legislation to change in New York to make it easier to open these centers, which provide the access women in the borough have long needed.

"When you look at those statistics and think these are not just numbers, these are actually people and families," said Flores.

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