AUSTIN, Texas — As the world continues to combat the novel coronavirus, testing sites have become a big part of the discussion.

The pandemic shines a light on racial disparities in communities of color and low-income areas. One of those disparities is the high maternal mortality rate among women of color.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black and American Indian women are two to three times more likely to die during childbirth. The study says most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable and those disparities have persisted over time.

Photo of Meme Styles (Lakisha Lemons/Spectrum News 1)
Photo of Meme Styles (Lakisha Lemons/Spectrum News 1)

That is why nonprofit Black Mamas ATX is on a mission to make sure women of color thrive and survive during childbirth. The group provides resources to expecting mothers to overcome the fear of giving birth, given the grave statistics surrounding it. 

Expecting mother, Meme Styles, described the statistics of maternal mortality among Black women as a blessing and a curse. 

“I say that because, the numbers that we are seeing Texas-wide. What the outcomes are looking like for maternal health. It’s scary, to be honest,” said Styles.

The Texas Department of State Health Services say, 8 in 10 Black maternal deaths could have been prevented based on circumstances surrounding healthcare.

Styles says she’s using her experience and research as a source of empowerment to hold medical professionals accountable. 

Nakeenya Wilson holds a baby (Lakisha Lemons/Spectrum News 1)
Nakeenya Wilson holds a baby (Lakisha Lemons/Spectrum News 1)

“That helps, I think, to mitigate some of the fear. I really hope to go into this birth experience unafraid,” said Styles.

Black Mamas ATX is taking on a responsibility in communities that are often left behind.

“It motivates her to spread the word and call people to action so that no Black mother has to face death in order to bring a life into the world,” said Nakeenya Wilson.

Black Mamas ATX was recently awarded a $40,000 grant from IMPACT Austin to help expand pregnancy and post-pregnancy care for women in Manor. The grant will allow the group to operate a community clinic in the area twice a month with a Black midwife.

Social workers and Black doulas will also be a part of the many resources the clinic plans to offer women of color.