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FOCUS ON…Black Maternal Health with Kayla Preston, RN, Ryan Health Vaccine Coordinator

April 28, 2022
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Black Maternal Health Week is recognized each year in April. Its aim is to bring attention to improving Black maternal health. Everyone can play a role in working to prevent pregnancy-related deaths and improving maternal health outcomes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 60% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.

Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. In some parts of Brooklyn and Bronx, the rate is 4 to 6 times more likely. Multiple factors contribute to these disparities. Some are differences in the quality of healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias. Social determinants of health can prevent many racial and ethnic minorities from having a fair shot at economic, physical, and emotional health. These include housing, food insecurity and lack of transportation.

The month of April is recognized in the United States as National Minority Health Month. It’s a month-long initiative to advance health equity across the country on behalf of all racial and ethnic minorities. Dozens of organizations are fighting to end maternal mortality globally. Many are advocating for the United Nations to recognize April 11 as the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights.

The campaign and activities for Black Maternal Health Week, which was April 11 to 17, amplified the voices of Black mothers everywhere. They focused on the values and traditions of the reproductive and birth justice movements. Activities were rooted in human rights, reproductive justice, and birth justice framework.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “The root causes of racial disparities in maternal health are real, so it’s time we do right by every mother and every baby, no matter the color of their skin or the language they speak.” He was announcing citywide expansions of the doula program, a Midwifery Initiative, and the maternal health care services program. Both family and doula support are encouraged during the childbirth process to improve health outcomes.

Ways Ryan Health Can Help You Have a Healthy Baby

As the prenatal coordinator at Ryan Health, Jecenia Taveras, Women’s Health Community Outreach Worker, is responsible for coordinating a wide range of clinical outreach and education relating to prenatal health. Things like breastfeeding, postpartum health, and reproductive health to improve health outcomes for pregnant patients, new parents, and their children. She provides case management-style support in a and acts as a liaison between staff and service providers in and out of the center.

Jecenia provides our moms with useful and important information during her educational sessions. During counseling sessions, she provides a list of contacts that can come in handy throughout pregnancy, COVID-19 vaccines and a pregnancy guide, list of warning signs that can occur during their pregnancies, timeline of pregnancy/baby growth, Ryan Health/WIC services, do's and don’ts regarding foods and over the counter medications, and a list of birth control methods for after birth.

Jecenia also assists our prenatal parents to apply for insurance if they are uninsured, request breast pumps and prenatal pelvic support, and also follows-up with our moms during and after birth along with assisting with any appointments they need for themselves and their newborn.

If interested in working with Jecenia , at your next prenatal appointment let your provider know. You can also reach to Jecenia Taveras directly at


Ways to learn more and get involved:

  • Black Mamas Matter Black Maternal Health Week & more:

Resources for NYC expectant mothers:

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