New Amsterdam Openly Addresses Birth Inequities for Black Women in “Catch”

We open on a seemingly idyllic scene of a Black mother giving birth naturally in a hospital — her husband beaming beside her as their newborn infant takes her first breath of oxygen, the music swells...but something is terribly wrong. The mother cannot move her arm. After some tests are run, it’s discovered that the mother has a lump in her thyroid. It’s stage 3 cancer. She must immediately begin intravenous radioactive treatment which will mean separation from her new baby (whom she’s named Pearl) and her husband for the next 4-5 months. So begins the April 20, 2021 episode of NBC’s procedural medical drama, New Amsterdam, which examines the inequities in child labor for women of color through the stories of three different Black women with three unique birthing experiences at the titular hospital. 

According to its hub on the University of California San Francisco website, the SACRED Birth Study was designed to validate the first and only Patient Reported Experience Measure of OBstetric racism©, also known as the PREM-OB Scale™, developed in 2019 with funding from California Health Care Foundation and owned by Dr. Karen A. Scott, MD, MPH, FACOG. The PREM-OB Scale™ examines obstetric racism, as defined for, by, and with Black mothers and Black birthing people, during hospitalization for labor, birth, and postpartum in six theorized patient identified quality of care domains: Safety, Autonomy, Communication, Racism, Empathy, and Dignity. 

The site further states that the information gained from the PREM-OB Scale™ will help hospitals, health plans, scientists, funders, and the public better understand how obstetric racism and other forms of neglect and mistreatment affect the ways that hospitals provide care, services, and support to Black mothers and birthing people during labor, birth, and postpartum. Although the study officially ended on January 31, 2021, it was indirectly given new life and a new platform during the New Amsterdam episode.The episode was titled “Catch” and was written by staff writer Erika Green Swafford (@swptatopie on Twitter), who is also a Black woman, and was directed by Shiri Appleby. Swafford also served as a consulting producer on the episode. 

Dr. Scott was tapped by Hollywood, Health & Society to serve as an expert for Swafford on writing “Catch.” Hollywood, Health & Society is a free resource to television and screen writers, connecting them with resources and experts on a variety of health and social topics. Hollywood, Health & Society also presented an open conversation on the issues surrounding Black maternal health on May 6 called “The Black Birth Experience: Challenges, Joys and Justice,” for which Swafford was a panelist. 

“Thank you so much for another opportunity to support the amazing work @HollywoodHealth. Thank you @robertacruger for introducing me to @swptatopie. Congratulations in advance to the brilliant Erika and all the talent at New Amsterdam. I plan to watch tonight and apply @SACRED_PREM_OB to the stories,” Dr. Scott tweeted ahead of the episode’s airing. She went on to tweet during the episode.

After the opening, a young Black woman, Ydalis Fournette (actress Tiffany Mann), comes into the hospital because of an abrasion on her head, but is immediately assumed to be pregnant because of her size. Bloodwork shows that she actually is pregnant, despite the fact that she adamantly claims to be a virgin.

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iDREAM presents: Black Mamas Glowing Pregnancy Peer Support Group Experience



Enrollment is open now!

Upcoming KEY DATES:

  • January Cohort begins January 10th, 2023 at 6:00 PM Pacific Time
  • February Cohort begins February 7th, 2023 at 6:00 PM Pacific Time
  • March Cohort begins March 7th, 2023 at 6:00 PM Pacific Time

 All via Zoom


The primary focus for this peer support group is maternal mental health within the Black birthing community.

Session 1 is all about birth planning in and outside of the hospital.

Session 2 is a brief overview of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and how they show up in Black birthing people.

Session 3 offers recommendations to tapping into culturally relevant social support. Our resource network is curated specific to Greater Los Angeles and surrounding counties.

Session 4 sums up each session before it to honor and remind mamas/birthing people how to advocate for themselves.

We hope to ensure that each birthing person and their support person understand that autonomy and freedom of choice is at the core of having a sacred pregnancy and birth journey.

Intended Outcomes:

Our hope is that by offering this pregnancy peer support group we decrease isolation, build community between participants, and create sustainable solutions for reducing stress while pregnant. We aim to serve 15-20 Black birthing/postpartum families during each cohort. Our in-house evaluator has created two surveys (pre-session 1 and post-session 4) which we intend on using to curate the plethora of community resources specific to each participant's geographic location, produce new content, and present evaluation results at conferences.

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October is SIDS Awareness Month (MCAH)

The Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Division is pleased to share several social media posts in honor of SIDS Awareness Month. We also recently launched a brand new SIDS program profile that you can read on our website. Please share these resources far and wide so that we can collectively bring awareness to this important topic.


Pregnant? New parent? Are you searching for daycare or looking for someone to watch your baby?

Make sure there is a safe space for
your baby under 1 year old to sleep.

Follow the ABCs of safe sleep:

  • Alone
  • On their back
  • In a crib, bassinet or pack n’ play    with no pillows, blankets or toys

Safe sleep saves lives.

Learn more by going


¿Embarazada? ¿Padres primerizos? ¿Estás buscando una guardería o alguien que cuide a tu bebé?

Asegúrate que tengan un espacio seguro para que duerma tu bebé menor de 1 año.

Sigue las indicaciones del "ABC" para que estén seguros a la hora de dormir.

  • Acostado solo
  • Boca arriba sobre la espalda
  • En una cuna, moisés, o cuna corral sin, almohadas, mantas, o juguetes

Dormir de forma segura salva vidas.

Obtenga más información


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Capital and Main recently released a three-part series on birth equity in LA County. Our AAIMM Initiative is highlighted along with many of our partners and partner efforts, called “Black Infant Mortality: the Deadly Divide”.

Truly, there is much work to be done to turn back the tide of harm that over 400 years of oppression and racism in all forms against Black people has caused. Yet, we are encouraged by the our amazing village and the progress we have made bringing forth an unashamed, courageous and unapologetic centering of health and joy for Black mamas, birthing people, and families.

Please see below:

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LAist Launches "Hey bb" - Text Message Service for Pregnancy and Parenthood


This week we launched Hey bb, a text message service run by real humans to answer questions about pregnancy, birth and parenthood — from how to advocate for yourself (systemic racism is real!) to explaining just what a doula does.

Pregnancy is a joyful time for many, but it's also fraught with anxiety — with worries about childbirth and how to care for a small human being. If this is you, or someone you love, LAist wants to help NAVIGATE the pregnancy, birth and postpartum phases of having a child.

If you would like to sign up for the service, text “heybb” to 73224.

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Black Breastfeeding Week 2022 Tool Kit

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CDPH - Guidance for Vaccination During Pregnancy

​CDPH recommends that all persons, including those that are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, get vaccinated and boosted, when eligible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for all people 5 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.

The guidance below is intended to answer many of the questions you may have if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, including the importance of vaccines to yourself and your child.  You can also talk to your healthcare provider to help you in your decision whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Click here to visit the CA Department of Public Health website. 

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CDPH - Guidance for Breastfeeding During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This document provides guidance for people who are breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic. The California Department of Public Health will update this guidance as new information becomes available.

CDPH recommends that all persons, including those that are breastfeeding, get vaccinated and boosted, when eligible.  Researchers have found that COVID-19 vaccine can be given safely to protect pregnant people and their babies. The COVID-19 vaccine may be given any time before, during or after pregnancy. Breastfeeding people may receive any of the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. For more information about vaccines available in California, visit our Get the Facts on COVID-19 Vaccines website.  

Additionally, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agree that people with COVID-19 can breastfeed. If you get COVID-19 and are breastfeeding, take precautions to lower the risk of passing COVID-19 to your baby. COVID-19 vaccines are safe for breastfeeding people and their babies. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies.

For more information, visit Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns if you have COVID-19.

Click here to visit the CA Department of Public Health website. 

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Why The Pandemic Took An Especially High Mental Health Toll On New Parents

Published by Elly You via LAIST Magazine

Beyond Therapy And Around Barriers To Access


Kay, of Maternal Mental Health NOW, says she often refers patients to support programs outside of the healthcare system, which include home visitation programs, support groups and low-cost counseling run through non-profits.

“I know these kinds of workarounds…[and] unless someone finds me, I think they're just lost and getting bounced around from one provider to another,” Kay said. “That is a common experience for a patient or a family member to just be given a list of numbers to call them and still end up nowhere, because people don't take their insurance or they’re dead numbers.”

While access to therapy is limited, Kay says it’s also important to recognize that therapy is not “the be-all, end-all solution,” and that not everyone who experiences mental health issues needs clinical support.

“We try and think more holistically about treatment options and forms of care…a lot of times social support is all that's needed.”

Blackman found social support as a complement to therapy. In October of 2020, she helped create a virtual peer support group of Black parents who have borne children, called Black Mamas Glowing through the non-profit iDream For Racial Health Equity. She wanted the focus to be on the parent, because other groups she’d identified and had been a part of paid more attention to the child.

She also wanted to be part of a group that was accessible to other Black parents.

“It's great, because you can just be unapologetically yourself,” Blackman said. “You don’t have to be like ‘Oh I have to be a super woman or have it altogether,’ Like, no. You just gave birth to a baby. It’s OK.”

Blackman says she's since "graduated" from therapy and has developed the language to talk about anxiety and depression, and now refers other moms to the support systems she's found.


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Los Angeles County Office of Violence Prevention partnered with the non-profit organization, Antelope Valley Partners for Health (AVPH), to assemble a violence prevention coalition and to collect and analyze research from the communities within the Service Planning Area 1 (SPA 1), geographically including Northern LA County. AVPH collaborated with coalition members to develop and implement five violence prevention objectives to foster safer Los Angeles communities. As part of this work, AVPH is offering a series of mini-grants. The mini-grants must be utilized to support the community action plan goals in encouraging a violence-free L.A. and in initiating post-violence healing.

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