Jazmon was a newly married military wife and new to California when she found out she was pregnant.
"What the Black Infant Health program provided to me as a military wife was support," Jazmon says. "I enjoyed going to the groups and making connections with other women who were expecting just like me."
In particular, Jazmon appreciated being able to join a program for Black women. "In a time that’s so sensitive like pregnancy, Black Infant Health provided me comfort with being around people who look like me."
Experts believe social, economic and racial stressors play an important role in Black women’s poor maternal and birth outcomes. Within a culturally affirming environment and honoring the unique history of Black women, the Black Infant Health (BIH) program helps women have healthy babies. Prenatal and postnatal group sessions and one-on-one meetings with trained case managers enable participants to learn proven strategies to reduce stress and develop life skills.
In Jazmon’s case, BIH also provided valuable education. Black women have a 52 percent higher risk of preterm birth than White women. When Jazmon went into labor five weeks early, she stayed calm and knew what to expect. "I felt really educated when it was time for me to give birth to Macie early, and just having the knowledge made me a lot more comfortable."
Baby Macie spent just two days in the NICU, and is now a happy, healthy and busy 11-month-old. Jazmon has been breastfeeding since Macie was born, and attributes that success to BIH. "We talked about breastfeeding, the benefits and lack of it in my culture. It helped me realize how beneficial it would be for my baby to breastfeed, and I’m grateful Black Infant Health brought that perspective to me."
Jazmon remains in touch with other women from her BIH group. The friendships and support continue, more than a year later.
"If I didn’t have Black Infant Health, I can honestly say that during my pregnancy, my life would have been a lot more stressful, being a military wife. The program gave me support away from home. It made me feel empowered and strong."