“We really need to make sure that this is something that’s equitable and fair to everybody, and is not just going to continue to affect the status quo of those who can pay for it.”

STAR AUGUST, Co-founder and CEO of the Holistic Birth Collective

ABOUT HOLISTIC BIRTH COLLECTIVE

Deinstitutionalize childbirth.  Empower community midwives.  Dismantle obstetric racism.  Transform public health research.

Holistic Birth Collective is a Black-led non-profit organization providing community-based (out-of-hospital) perinatal care and planned homebirth, and postpartum services to pregnant and birthing persons who reside on the south side of Chicago. Our mission is simple: to increase the availability and accessibility of person-centered maternity care that is evidence-based and is responsive to the needs of African-American and Black families residing in the Chicago metropolitan area. We believe midwives, when empowered to work in community-based settings, foster health and life in the Black community at large and are a solution to dismantling the structural and medical racism that has been killing Black mothers for more than a century.

Here at HBC, we know that Black women are not broken; the system is broken. We will not tolerate a discourse that pathologizes Black women. Organizations pitching policy interventions that focus on giving Black mothers “education” on making “healthy choices” might be well-intentioned, but they’re missing the point. We need to get to the structural and cultural root of the problem that is killing Black women and that is obstetric racism. 

When researchers actually think to ask American mothers what they would want for their future births, Black/African-American mothers express greater interest in having planned home births than any other racial/ethnic group in the United States (see: the Listening to Mothers Surveys from 2013 and the California-specific iteration from 2018). And yet, Black mothers are significantly less likely than white women to have access to planned homebirth. 

Much of this is attributable to the fact that the majority (over two-thirds) of planned homebirths were paid for out of pocket in the United States from the years 2004-2017. For comparison, only 3% of hospital births in the United States are self-paid. Because Black women are more often dependent on Medicaid or limited private insurance, they are deprived of access to planned homebirths even though the third-party expenditures are almost always lower than for hospital deliveries and controlled studies demonstrate superior maternal outcomes with no negative effect on neonatal outcomes.

Our Mission

Holistic Birth Collective’s work confronts health inequity related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the first year postpartum. HBC is a disruptive force in the “maternal-child health” space that educates, agitates, and organizes to shift the power to maintain health towards communities rather than state-run institutions. We work in solidarity with Illinois’s radical Black birth worker community and commit to amplify their power through administrative advocacy. HBC’s data activism challenges public health departments to move beyond intrusive surveillance of atomized “risk factors” and instead interrogate racist harm and gender-based violence embedded within our healthcare delivery system. We collaborate with partners in the clinical and public health sectors to build the infrastructures necessary to make safe, trauma-informed, dignifying maternity care the norm so that our healthcare system equitably maintains the safety, dignity, and joy of all pregnant and birthing families.

Our current priorities are to increase access and availability of midwife-led continuity of care models among unjustly served communities, to grow the number and racial diversity of Certified Professional Midwives in Illinois, and to raise awareness about obstetric racism.

Core strategies: Data Activism, Radical Innovation to Reimagine Perinatal Healthcare Delivery, Design Justice Praxis, and Administrative Advocacy

See/Print our Mission:

Meet Sister Star

Often knows as “Sister Star,” Star August is a Birth Specialist and the creator of Holistic Birth Collective. She is currently based in Chicago where she is advocating for black mothers and babies.

Star has been a Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula and Childbirth Educator for ten years. Since moving to Chicago, she has volunteered with Chicago Volunteer Doulas, begun pursuing a licensure as a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) and created Holistic Birth Collective. Her dream is to one day open a freestanding birth center that encompasses holistic health to women and their families.

Our Villiage

Holistic Birth Collective as an organization strives to distribute power equally regardless of titles and we rely heavily on our member base. We could not be who we are without our board members!

Stephanie Kraft Sheley
Board of Directors, Interm President

Katie Garland
Board of Directors, Secretary

Alexis Jones
Board of Directors, Treasurer

Betsy Merbitz
Board of Directors

Isis A. Rose
Board of Directors

Stephanie Rossi
Board of Directors

Deanna Bassette
Board of Directors

Omolara Aza Mino
Board of Directors

Phone

(773) 245-3668

Email

info@holisticbirthcollective.org

Mail

6172 S University Ave, Suite 107 Chicago, IL 60637

Phone

(773) 245-3668

Email

info@holisticbirthcollective.org

Mail

6172 S University Ave, Suite 107 Chicago, IL 60637

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