Important conversations are finally happening in mainstream media about racial inequality in maternal health care. Several recent stories show that Black women in particular (including Serena Williams and Beyoncé) are at much higher risk of complications in childbirth.
Following the death of Kira Johnson, we reached out to get local context from Mommy Monitor founder Elsie Amako. Mommy Monitor is a maternal health app+service that customizes care by organizing maternal health care services for women individually, through a combination of behavioral analysis, patient navigation, predictive analysis and case management.
Recent data out of the United States showed that Black women are six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related birth conditions as white women. How does Canada compare?
We have do a very similar challenge in Canada, but we lack evidence that is focused on race to prove it. We have very limited studies that examine the experiences Black women have here, though there is some qualitative research from various academic papers. We are provided some evidence through the stories of women from the community. These stories demonstrate the inequities that are impacting the lives of African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) women, whether they are an immigrant or native born. There are common factors that are connected to the Black experience globally that increase the likelihood to have these same adverse outcomes, regardless of where we live.
Can you talk a bit about your Birth Justice Awareness series? What have been the best moments so far?
Our birth justice workshops began after I realized Black and racialized parents and parents-to-be to be did not have a safe space to share their experiences and ask questions. So we began focusing on engaging the communities and the parents and finding out what they wanted to know or understand about the pregnancy journey and providing them that information. The best moments thus far are just seeing the parents during the hour of the class that they share their own experiences and comfort one another. It feels good to see that they have a space to let go of some of the pain they have been carrying for years sometimes.
What is your biggest hope for Mommy Monitor? What does the world look like if all those hopes come true?
I would like for Mommy Monitor to become a global maternal health option that will provide governments and health care institutions with a cost effective way to provide care to those who need it. If this happens, I think we have the opportunity to revolutionize maternal health care and outcomes globally.
How has being a CSI member impacted your work so far?
CSI is an amazing family that is constantly patient and supportive of all of the work that we do without question. I always meet people who want to help me and Mommy Monitor and I always know someone will answer if I ask for help. This is extremely comforting.
How can CSI members (or anyone!) get involved in Mommy Monitor’s work?
We are a new start-up so we are always looking for individuals with more senior experience in technology or business to provide insight that may help us. In addition to any support for funding opportunities, people can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Spread the word about (and attend) our birth justice workshops and our Racialized Maternal Health Conference.
BONUS QUESTION. I know your work keeps you extremely busy. What is your favourite song to start your morning with when you need to get 100 things done in a day?
I don’t listen to music when I wake up immediately- I usually just check emails. But the one song that has been influencing me to work harder and not give up is Never Enough by Loren Allred. I do not listen to it a lot (I probably listen to more Cardi B lol) but- that song always inspires me and as soon as I am done listening to it I always feel like I can take over the world.
Do you have a desire to take over the world? Let CSI help! Become a member today!