I’ve been fascinated by pregnancy and birth since I was a child myself. I knew that my career would be dedicated to learning about pregnancy and helping to bring babies safely into this world.
Ten years, two degrees, and three industries later, I’ve finally found myself where I want to be — working in the maternal health space. As I worked towards my Masters degree and doula training, my family and friends began building families themselves. The case-studies I read weren’t just theory anymore: maternal health transformed into an issue that mattered to me in a deeply personal way.
I witnessed my best friend experience preeclampsia, a serious complication of pregnancy characterized by dangerously high blood pressure. Because of this complication, my best friend lost her first son, Legend, just days after birth.
And, unfortunately, my friend is not alone in her experience. In Georgia, the risks—for mother and child—are exceptionally high: twice the number of women die during birth than the national average. And the CDC found that Black women face an even higher risk of pregnancy-related deaths: Georgia’s mothers die from pregnancy-related complications at nearly twice the rate of women nationally, and within Georgia, Black women die at over three times the rate of white women.
Despite the socioeconomic factors I have overcome, despite all that I have done to become successful in my field, the fact that the color of my skin could determine whether I live or die bringing a child into this world is harrowing.
That’s why Reverend Warnock’s push to mend our state—and nation’s—broken maternal health system could not come at a better time.
As a doula, witnessing Reverend Warnock’s fight for Georgia mothers and families—after advocating for this kind of real investment—is a relief. This bill is long overdue given our country’s history of medical mistreatment and disrespect of Black women and people giving birth.
In the Senate, Warnock secured essential funding to reduce maternal mortality and improve infant health. Warnock’s bipartisan bill provides funding directly to local organizations already working within their communities to reduce maternal mortality. That’s especially important given that report after report has shown how critical it is to center community voices in decision making around maternal health. And Georgia is ripe with amazing grassroots organizations ready for the charge. With this new training support for healthcare providers and new research investments into best practices in the delivery room, we save lives.
These investments move the needle on maternal health disparities in Georgia—a state where 79 of Georgia’s 159 counties have no OB/GYN and sixty-four have no pediatrician, disproportionately in rural areas.
When we focus on improving outcomes among Black women and infants, all Georgia families benefit. Regardless of race, income, or zip code, every family in Georgia, and across the country, deserves that peace of mind. Now that Reverend Warnock has secured funding for these critical initiatives, Georgia’s parents and future parents across the state will benefit.
Reverend Warnock is a true champion for women’s health. He has helped our country take a vital step towards ending these preventable tragedies. As a professional in the maternal health space, I know there is nothing more sacred than bringing life into this world. Reverend Warnock is doing everything in his power to protect that sacred experience and ensure Georgians can celebrate bringing new life into their families without the fear of losing their lives.
Brittney Palmer is a birth doula and maternal health professional based in Atlanta. The views in this op-ed are her own.