The Daily Grind Video
The MAKERS Conference 2024 - Day Two

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This Black Maternal Health Week comes with an exciting and transformative announcement. Journalist and author Elaine Welteroth and tennis champion Serena Williams launch their birthFUND initiative, aimed at improving maternal healthcare. Read more details about the announcement inside.

Welteroth is on a mission to safeguard maternal health one birth at a time. She welcomed her first child, Silver Isley, in April 2022. Since then, she realized the financial hardships many moms face during and after pregnancy. This week Welteroth 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 shared 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.”

The birthFUND mission focuses on removing financial barriers and expanding access to midwifery care, ensuring that quality birth support is affordable for families across the country. Additionally, they are advocating for broader insurance coverage and acceptance of midwifery, a critical step recognized by the World Health Organization as essential in preventing over 80% of maternal and neonatal deaths.

According to the birthFUND site, the foundation advocates and invests in midwifery care and the inclusion of birth workers in the birth experience,. 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,” the birthFUND mission statement reads. “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 also joined forces with other celebrity founders and investors, including tennis star and birthFUND co-founder Williams, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, and Kelly Rowland.

“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 experienced a near death experience when delivering her first child back in 2017, and she was forced to undergo four surgeries afterward. The United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the world. 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 percent of all maternal deaths, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths.

Welteroth, Williams and birthFUND hope to alleviate 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.”

This is major! Congrats to Welteroth and Williams. Be sure to check out birthFUND’s website to get more information.