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High maternal mortality rate in Erie County

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BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) – There is a high maternal mortality rate in Erie County that has a growing tendency for women of color to choose to give birth at home rather than in hospital.

Melminated Moms founder Alexcia Harrod is focused on helping Black and Brown mothers have a better childbirth experience as she views the death rate for black and brown mothers in Erie County as dire .

“Black and brown women are three times more likely to die in child labor than their white counterparts and that stat is scary,” says Harrod.

Harrod is hosting a community baby shower at the Hansa Building on June 11 to raise awareness and ensure Doula supports mothers.

“Doulas are the mother’s advocate, so they will be there to focus on you and make sure you have a pleasant experience during your birth,” says Harrod.

Harrod and others say 70% of black maternal deaths are preventable.

“New York State ranks 23rd compared to other states, which is alarming,” says Danise Wilson, executive director of the Erie Niagara Region Health Education Center. “I would say New York State has recognized a problem here and especially in Erie County, maternal mortality rates are very high compared to other counties in the state.”

Erie County Legislative Speaker April Baskin said the women of Black and Brown don’t deserve to die or have a bad childbirth experience.

“We need to change the statistics that you don’t deserve to die or have a bad experience just because your chances of having a positive birth experience are lower because of your race,” Baskin said.

Baskin and Wilson are working with New York State’s Medicaid Doula pilot program as a first step to addressing this disparity.

“This is the first time this has been done in this pilot program, and it is only done in Erie County where low-income mothers have access to Doula services and it has been shown that Doula helped eliminate the maternal mortality rate,” Wilson said.

As for Alexcia Harrod, she hopes this awareness will go beyond Erie County.

“Black and brown women are three times more likely to die than their white counterparts, so they know it’s a problem,” Harrod said. “I’m glad they talked about it, but we have a lot of work to do.”

Click here to learn more about the community baby shower event and the death rate among black and brown mothers in Erie County.