November 23, 2020

Architect's Newspaper Profiles Jamaa Birth Village Equal Access Midwifery Clinic

A new piece from Architect’s Newspaper profiles Jamaa Birth Village and the Equal Access Midwifery Clinic our Open Hand Studio team helped them create.

Jamaa is a non-profit organization in Ferguson, MO, that provides midwife and doula services – currently, a predominantly white industry – that are accessible and affordable to the local community. The organization was founded by Tru Kellman, the first black Certified Professional Midwife in the state of Missouri, to help black mothers better choose their birthing experience. This effort translates to better health outcomes for black mothers who consistently experience higher infant mortality rates and lack of access to care.

The new clinic helps Jamaa expand its services, including pre-natal and post-natal care, access to mental health services, a community garden, custom childbirth and nutrition classes, doula care and more. Jamaa also provides midwife and doula training, to empower more women of color to enter the profession.

As our Elise Novak shares in the piece, the need for such efforts is great, “In parts of St. Louis, the infant mortality rate for Black women is higher than it is in some third world countries. The racial discrepancies here are particularly pronounced in terms of birth outcomes.”

The full Architect’s Newspaper piece is available online. Below is an additional excerpt:

On the calming design of the Midwifery Clinic
The Equal Access Clinic works to reduce those discrepancies with its calm and inviting space. The focal point of the clinic is a spa room, complete with a single-person sauna and sound therapy for relaxation.

“Part of the reason for poorer birth outcomes for Black women is not just the stress that their daily life involves, often in terms of poverty level,” said Novak, “but being able to find moments to relax is very important.”

The spa room is bolstered by herbs and natural remedies supplied from Kellman’s Apothecary, located in the same building. The Jamaa Birth Village combines cultural-based traditions with evidence-based care to give expectant mothers holistic midwifery and doula services.