Black Birthing Disparities Exist

We are working to reduce the impact of racism on black birthing people in San Francisco and across the Bay Area. Here's how the San Francisco Department of Public Health is addressing maternal health disparities.

“Bay Area mothers and children in front of the Women of the Black Panther Party Mural in West Oakland” by Jean Melesaine

Black Maternal Mortality

In San Francisco, of the 10 documented maternal deaths in recent years, five were Black mothers.

Black Infant Mortality

Black infant mortality rates are 2 to 4 times higher than the rates for other ethnic groups statewide.


Black Preterm Births

Black women are at a 1.7 times higher risk of having a preterm birth when compared to White women.

Home Visiting Doula Support

Home Visiting Doula Support

San Francisco Perinatal Equity Initiative is partnering with SisterWeb San Francisco Community Doula Network to design and implement the Home Visiting Doula Support intervention. A Perinatal Support Doula will enhance the existing Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Public Health Nursing Home Visiting Program through increasing client advocacy, addressing barriers to care for Black birthing people, and connecting clients to providers that look like them. The Home Visiting Doula Support intervention activities include:

  • Explore the needs of Black clients in home visits to develop a plan on how doulas can support, empower and advocate with/for Black clients
  • Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve health problems identified by public health home visits and Black clients in the program. Develop new policies and systems that address racial inequities
  • Provide a peer-support workforce that is centered on improving experience, care and outcomes of Black pregnant clients. Prioritizing SF residents with lived experience into the workforce to establish a pipeline and training program   

Hospital Obstetric Racism Intervention

Hospital Obstetric Racism Intervention

San Francisco Perinatal Equity Initiative is partnering with the University of California, San Francisco, Preterm Birth Initiative to conduct a racial equity assessment and develop a hospital quality improvement plan to improve health outcomes for Black birthing people in select San Francisco hospitals. Activities for this project will include:

  • Develop a racial equity assessment plan and investigate policies, protocols, and practices of the birth hospital delivery system with a racial equity lens. This involves conducting interviews with Black birthing people, hospital staff, community based organizations, and social service providers
  • Inform hospital leadership and community leaders of the current state of racial health disparities among San Francisco birthing populations. Share community generated recommendations to address racial inequities
  • Create a Quality Improvement (QI) plan for hospital staff (e.g. hospital leadership, direct service providers, front line staff) to improve care experiences and outcomes of Black birthing people

Bay Area Public Awareness Campaign

Bay Area Public Awareness Campaign

Local Counties including San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and Solano organized a Bay Area Public Awareness Campaign to raise awareness of racist experiences Black birthing people face. The campaign focuses on empowerment and action to improve Black maternal and infant health while celebrating the expecting parent, baby, and partner. The campaign will: 

  • Raise awareness of statistics that disproportionately affect Black mothers while avoiding stereotypical messages about Black parents 
  • Promote upstream strategies on policy change and programming that centers the voices and experiences of black birthing people
  • Promote the creation of a healthy community to support black birthing people and infants

The San Francisco Department of Public Health has identified the following interventions to address perinatal outcomes for birthing people in our county

Learn more about how you can take action

We are calling on providers, community members, and policy makers to help protect black birthing people from the harmful effects of systemic racism. Join us today!

“photo” by Jean Melesaine