CLEVELAND — In 2015, Christin Farmer founded Birthing Beautiful Communities, an organization whose mission is to prevent and reduce infant mortality and low birth weights in high-risk neighborhoods.
“I wanted to create a safe space for Black women who talk about our issues, to heal ourselves and preparation for new life, coming into this world," Farmer says.
Over the past five years, the organization has provided hundreds of families living in Northeast Ohio with pre-natal, labor, and postpartum support. The region has one the countries highest infant mortality rates — an issue that disproportionately impacts Black women and babies.
“The overall rate of infant mortality has decreased but the disparity still persists, and so I think that the misconception with infant mortality is that we think that this is really just the overall problem, but it is not. It is Black babies that are driving the numbers for the county and for the state,” Farmer says.
The nonprofit organization has recently been awarded $1 million from the George Gund Foundation to build a comprehensive birthing center in the Hough neighborhood. Farmer says the center will have a major impact on health and wellness outcomes of Black children, families and communities in Northeast Ohio.
“We are excited. I don't even think excited is a large enough word or explanation of how we really truly feel about it!”
Farmer says the birthing center will be the only free-standing center of its kind in the state of Ohio. The center opens at a time when a growing number of hospita" birthing centers across the state are closing, including the birthing center at University Hospitals Elyria Medical center. Also in 2019, Cleveland Clinic closed the maternity unit at Medina hospital.
"This is our way of beginning to pull us back into a safe place, and a safe space certainly begins with the babies and the parents of those babies,” Farmer says.