Black Voices News features Dr. Tonce' Jackson, Dr. Melissa Franklin and Asaiah Harville. Speaks on AAIMM's work in the Community, BBFW, Cinnamoms & more...

Black Voices News publishes an article about AAIMM's Black Breastfeeding Week!

features quotes from Dr. Tonce' Jackson, Dr. Melissa Franklin, and Asaiah Harville & speaks about our work in the community!

Please visit the link below to read the full article!

Black Voice News: Raising Awareness: Black Mothers and Breastfeeding

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PRPSN Project Return is looking for volunteers who har advocates, community leaders, and students to facilitate in person and telehealth groups as a stipend volunteer!

To be fully effective, our voices of lived experience must be joined together behind common messages and combined advocacy efforts. When you join the coalition, you will be informed of state-level and local advocacy opportunities, with tips to help you advocate effectively. You will also receive updates to keep you educated about the Mental Health Services Act, changes to Medi-Cal, and legislation that has the potential to impact you.

  • You must be +18 with a passion for the community
  • able to access online platforms
  • willing to complete documentation & complete a livescan.

Join the Peer Voices of California A Client Advocacy Coalition - Email [email protected] or call 562.506.6784.

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in collaboration with the LA County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality prevention initiative and ITS FREE!


*Applications due October 16th 11:59 p.m. PST. See attached flyer for further information.


There will be two training options.


Training Option 1

Part 1 & 2 - Monday, November 9, 2020 9am - 5 pm

Part 3 & 4 Monday, November 16, 2020 9am - 5 pm

Location: Online

Training Option 2

Part 1 - Saturday, January 9, 2021 10 am - 1 pm

Part 2 -Sunday , January 10, 2021 10 am - 1 pm

Part 3 -Saturday,  January 16, 2021 10 am - 1 pm

Part 4 - Sunday , January 17, 2021 10 am - 1 pm

Location: Online


Trainings are limited to 20 people per session! So, APPLY ASAP and SPREAD THE WORD!


Please use the link below to complete the interest form:

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The Village Fund


On behalf of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Health Services, First 5 LA, the Center for Strategic Partnerships, and the LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment, we are excited to announce the launch of the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Prevention Initiative Village Fund (Village Fund)
The Village Fund seeks to reinforce the broad goals of the AAIMM Prevention Initiative by funding community-led efforts that support the physical and mental well-being of Black women/birthing persons, fathers, partners, and families before, during, after birth. Organizations, networks, coalitions, individual service providers, micro-enterprises, or small businesses are eligible to apply. Priority consideration will be given to entities that are Black-led.

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SACRED Birth During COVID19

The SACRED Birth Study explores how Black mothers & birthing people experience racism in hospital settings during labor, birth, and postpartum prior to going home. 

Complete a 1-hour survey and provide access to hospital medical records to receive a $100 gift card. 

Click here for details. 

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NICU Research Study - Share Your Experience!

Unfortunately, black babies have the highest Infant Mortality rates in the United States. Though the rates have decreased over the years, studies show that the risk of black babies dying before their first birthday is twice as high as other groups; and many of those deaths are tied to preterm births. The time spent and the care given in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is pivotal to the lives of these babies.

The research team at UCSF is conducting a study on NICU experiences of Black birthing people and family members in the NICU. They are recruiting Black women and birthing people who currently or recently had an infant(s) in the NICU to participate in a study. Eligible participants will receive up to $75.00 in gift cards after completing an online survey and interview. By understanding these experiences, we hope to improve access to breastfeeding care, lactation support and mental health services in NICU settings.

To learn more about the study, please see the flyer below or email [email protected] for more information.



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Joint Statement from Los Angeles County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative Steering Committee and Community Action Teams

Los Angeles County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative Steering Committee and Community Action Teams have released a statement opposing the killing of Black individuals, racism, and oppression. The statement was signed onto by the initiative's network of partners and collaboratives, including LA County Department of Public Health and First 5 LA, the effort's countywide co-leads. Those interested in expressing support with the statement may do so at:

The statement is below:

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LADPH Covid and Childbirth Update

COVID, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding Update - LA County Department of Public Health

June 22, 2020

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recently provided an update related to women who were pregnant and tested positive for COVID-19. Below are key points shared in the update.

  • 329 women who are pregnant have tested positive for COVID-19, and 74% of the women who were tested and were positive, were symptomatic.
  • To date, there have been 72 live births and 5 non-live births among women who tested positive for COVID-19. Our hearts go out to the families who are mourning the loss of their infants.
  • 48 infants have been tested at birth and all have tested negative for COVID-19.
  • LADPH reinforced that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. It is not known whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk, but the limited data available suggest this is not likely to be a source of transmission. Further, whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and healthcare providers.
  • A mother with confirmed COVID-19 should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including hand hygiene and wearing a cloth face covering, and talk to her provider about the safest way to breastfeed.
  • New parents to visit BREASTFEEDLA.ORG and for more information.
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Meet the Black Infants and Families Doulas

Los Angeles County has launched a Doula pilot project to support Black/African American families in having access to a health and joyous birth. We'd like you to meet them...

Doulas are professional childbirth companions who provide emotional support, physical comfort, education and advocacy to women and persons during pregnancy, childbirth and the newborn period. Doula support can reduce medical interventions, including c-sections, improve your mood and satisfaction with your birth experience, and increase your breastfeeding success! Doula support can be provided while maintaining social distancing guidance.

For more information on the doula pilot, contact Nakeisha Robinson at [email protected] or (213) 637-8466.

Bethany Benson


My name is Bethany M. Benson! I am from South Central LA a wife and mother of three beautiful children and 4 angels up above. My passion is working with moms who experience loss and need grief support (specifically miscarriages/stillbirths/ infant and maternal mortality.) As it has been my own experience 4 times, I realized how strong I was through the process and I want to be strong for families in need. My motto is “A women’s body is created to naturally birth babies we were built for this!” and you deserve to have the birth you want, but today that takes support (choose your village)

I have worked in maternal and infant health for 15 years as a breastfeeding peer counseling and nutrition assistant.

I have been a labor/postpartum doula for 5 years trained through Cappa

Certified Breastfeeding Counselor (CLE) through UC San Diego extension program! I am also a support group facilitator for African American groups in LA county. Breastfeedla train the trainer LES program scholarship recipient. I am dedicated to serving you (Ibad) which is servant in Hebrew) so that you can have the best birth outcome you desire! Peace Love and Joy.


Carla Clark

My name is Carla and I was raised in the Inland Empire within the city of Pomona. I am a mother of three and I am aware of the necessity of support during labor. My desires are to work with children and families, and this initiated my career in social work. I wanted a more personal relationship with families while exploring birthing and babies, I decided to take a different career route as a full spectrum doula. A full spectrum doula can provide both labor and postpartum doula services for a "full spectrum" of doula care.

I obtained a master’s in social work from California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) in 2014 and is currently a Children’s Social Worker, providing case management services to children who are medically fragile and/or with special needs. My work within this agency has allowed for a wealth of knowledge on community resources and programs, of which disseminates to families. I have served on several committees, one of which included focusing on eliminating racial disparity and disproportion in the child welfare system. I also obtained training with Shafia Monroe Consulting. The Full Circle Doula Training® is an intensive 30-hour (3.5 days) prenatal, labor and postpartum doula training course.

In addition, I have done volunteer work for several organizations, including ‘Alternate Avenues’, where I assisted with the intake of incoming pregnant patients for medical services. Doula’s often advise women of nutritional needs during pregnancy, which may be hard to obtain for disadvantaged working families. As Communications Director for the non-profit organization, Hammer Hunger Inc., she is an incredibly valuable resource to the organization and the families served. Her wealth of knowledge and experience dealing with the needs of working families helps bring about strong solutions-based results. My compassion towards children and families has guided me to work within this organization for eradicating hunger in the working family’s household.

I am also a firm believer that with the proper support and education and mother can have a joyous birthing experience.


Felicia Frances-Edwards


Being a Doula is my passion. Being allowed to attend and support a birth is a sacred honor. I’ve worked in Maternal Child Health for more than 30 years and officially became a Doula in 2012. Over this time, I have attended over 30 births. A Doula is a true servant who assists the woman and her support team to experience labor and delivery with as much support as possible.  I support the client’s partner, family and friends as they support the woman. For many thinking about labor and delivery evokes anxiety and fear. People feel compelled to share their worse labor experiences with pregnant women; these stories often imply that having a baby is torture. As a Doula I’ve learned that labor can be hard work and very painful, but it doesn’t mean that the woman must suffer. I bring my training and experience to the table to assist the woman and her partner, family and friends cope during the labor process. Using massage, soothing music, breathing techniques, relaxation exercises and various positions to offer relief during labor. My primary role is to empower the woman to have the birth experience she desires and to be there for her if what she wants changes.

Again, I say attending a birth is a gift, honor and a privilege. In the end I want the woman’s experience to be enhanced by my presence and walk away from each birth knowing I’ve given my best.


Jordan Smith

My name is Jordan Smith. I became a doula after the birth of my second son where I was inspired by birth work and desired to share this work with all families. I am passionate about birth and labor and love to bring healing and empowerment to families during this time. I heal through my hands, my voice, my love. I am a woman, mother, doula, yoga instructor, and a nurse but deeper than all my “titles” I am joy, hope, passion, love, I am a creative. I look forward to using my passion to help families through one of the most vulnerable times!


Keisha Smith-Spears


My name is Keisha Smith-Spears. I am a Doula specializing in birth and death transitions. I always envisioned myself working in the medical field nurturing those in need. I began my medical career working as a Certified Nursing Assistant in Tucson Arizona. Since my humble beginnings in healthcare, I acquired extensive knowledge working in all Acute Care Hospital Units. Once my life’s journey led me to care for patients in Pediatrics and Postpartum, my interest began to gravitate towards Doula work.

My spiritual path has led me to “trench work”; working with at risk mom and babies. Providing care and support for at risk population is my passion. My goal is to center my Doula work around the homeless and Mental Health population(s).



Latrice Matthews

Hi! My name is Latrice and I am a professionally trained Certified Birth and Post-Partum Doula, Childbirth Educator, and a Certified Lactation Educator.

I have more than 20 years of professional experience supporting women and families moving through stages and phases of parenthood.  I have deep passion for improving birth outcomes, and I also advocate for informed decision making and I use evidence-based literature and practices throughout perinatal care.    

In the community, I have volunteered to do Doula support for Mission Hills’ Black Infant Health. Additionally, I facilitated breastfeeding classes and support groups for Soul Food for Your Baby and I continue to guest lecture at California State University, Northridge on Women’s Health.


Maryam Abdu

          My name is Maryam Abdul Karim. I like to call myself miss Ab-doula because I feel called to this work. As a birth doula, it nourishes my soul to know that I can bring ease and comfort to Black birthing folks. I believe Black birthing people deserve the birth experience they want. It excites me to see Black pregnant folks so excited to plan and prepare for the delivery of their baby. I assist them throughout that process by helping prepare the birth plan, provide massages, breathing techniques, equip them with resources, and reminding them of their divine power. 


Mercedez Johnson

My name is Mercedez. I am a trained Birth and Postpartum Doula. I am pursing a degree in Nursing. My future goal is to become a midwife. With my experience and knowledge, I plan on reducing racial disparities in the Los Angeles County along with my team.

I'm a mother of 3 loving boys. I've became a birth worker after my own pregnancies as well as birth experiences. I was called to help, support, and encourage birthing individuals to learn to trust themselves as well as their bodies. Growing a family is a beautiful time in one’s life and I'm looking forward to working with and making sure everyone has the best and memorable moments.


Monique Cowan


My name is Monique Cowan (also known as, Monique The Doula) and I am a Birth and Postpartum Doula. I am also the mother of a brilliant 8-year-old little girl, who is the inspiration for me to go through doula training. I also formally trained as a doula in 2011, after receiving the nurturing and support of a doula during my own pregnancy and childbirth but I have been doing the work of a doula since 2001, even before I knew what a doula was. I naturally cared for my friends and family members during and after their pregnancies. I have also has cared for babies and children since the age of 16.

After I experienced Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, I understood the immense importance of postpartum care. After training to become a postpartum doula, I became an advocate and cheerleader for "the village"- the group of family and friends who surround the newborn's parents throughout pregnancy and beyond. I now train friends and family members to give optimal nurturing and support to new parents, whether they hire a doula or not.


Syreeta Staples

My name is Syreeta, and I am the mother of four beautiful children, I have been a Doula since 2007. After experiencing the unique nature of my own births, I became very clear that there was a dire need for education and empowerment for women to prepare for Childbirth. When my youngest child was only a few months old, I then began my mission towards becoming an advocate for women to be informed of their options to have healthier pregnancies and safer births.

Additionally, I have received my initial training through I.C.T.C. (International Center for Traditional Childbearing) with Founder and Midwife, Shafia Monroe and became a Certified Full-Circle Doula. I later enrolled in The Hearts and Hands Midwifery Intensives with Midwife Educator, Elizabeth Davis. There I received certificates of completion for the beginning and advanced courses offered through the program. 

Once I gained the necessary knowledge and skills through my formal training, I knew I was able to infuse my keen intuition and maternal experience to assist and empower many women on their journey to motherhood. I deeply believe in the philosophy of my first teacher Shafia Monroe, who advised: "When you save (and heal) a Mother, you save a whole community."


Tamara Robertson


Hi, my name is Tamara Robertson and I am a Holistic Birth & Postpartum Doula and I am a classically trained Chef, who has found passion and purpose in supporting Black/African American families in Los Angeles County.  I am the proud Mother of 4 & am a Navy veteran that was led to Birth work organically through intuition & dreams.  I have completed Birth worker training at Kindred Space LA through The Birthing People Foundation where I continue to receive support and mentorship from Kimberly Durdin (IBCLC, Student Midwife). My ultimate goal is to help heal and support my community, beginning with the womb.

“If we’re going to heal, let it be glorious.” -BEY


Tonya Michelle


My name is Tonya Michelle and I am a dedicated birth and postpartum doula. I am passionate about cultivating awareness around the immeasurable benefits of conscious pregnancy and motherhood, through natural birthing practices and mind-body-baby connection.

Originally from Virginia, I have spent over a decade in holistic health and wellness. My personal experience in self-healing and transformation led to my calling, to support women in accessing the strength and wisdom of her innate feminine design. I am committed to serving and empowering black women throughout their birthing journeys with tools for self-advocacy and developing trust in their intuition.

In addition to my work in the birthing community, I am a Prenatal Yoga teacher, Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher, and Self-care specialist, offering clients personalized instruction and healing guidance through soulful wellness practices. For more information









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Black Maternal Health Week: Centering Black Women’s Leadership and Experiences

Black Maternal Health Week: Centering Black Women’s Leadership and Experiences

By: Dana Sherrod, MPH and Carol Kim, MPP

This week, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations, advocates, and policymakers across the nation are virtually celebrating the third annual Black Maternal Health Week and deepening the conversation about Black maternal health in the U.S. While progress has been made, data shows that Black mothers and their babies disproportionately experience higher rates of adverse birth outcomes compared to other groups.

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