Empowering. Family-oriented. Honesty. Those are three words Ebonie uses to describe Black Infant Health (BIH), a program aimed at reducing health disparities and helping Black women have healthy babies. Ebonie, a single mother of three, joined BIH when she had her second child, and returned when she was pregnant with her youngest, Ivorie, now 2 years old.
"I regret not having Black Infant Health for my first son, and I really needed it," Ebonie says. "I had a very rough emotional pregnancy, and I would have loved to have had that support." Like many women, she endured postpartum depression. In Ebonie's case, she suffered for more than a year.
"Being surrounded by strong Black women, you can’t really beat that. ."
With her second and third babies, Ebonie again had postpartum depression, but much less severe. To manage it, she turned to women she met in the program's group sessions, relied on her one-on-one case manager meetings and benefited from the many resources she received from BIH. San Diego County's BIH program is subcontracted to Neighborhood House Association, which connects participants to other community resources.
Ebonie says, "If you needed a Black therapist to a Black psychiatrist, to a Black doctor, they were able to provide all these different resources." Her case manager also helped her find her own apartment.
"It definitely felt like a family. Some of the women share their own personal struggles and stories, and they're really transparent, which is what we all need," Ebonie says. "Black Infant Health made me feel strong. Sometimes, as a single mother, you want to give up, and then you're around other moms, and it empowers you because we're all going through this and we can all get through this."
Ebonie also valued the information she learned about being Black and pregnant, citing statistics related to a higher incidence of miscarriage, preterm birth and other serious conditions like preeclampsia.
"We learned so much, and there was so much empowerment," she says, adding that each session started with meditation and motivation. "It was therapeutic as well, because we were able to vent about our different situations at home. It was really good. Being surrounded by strong Black women, you can't really beat that."