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Monday, February 20, 2023

Host of Podcast That Addresses Black Maternal Health Launches New Hotline to Bring Joy to Expecting Parents

Kimberly Seals Allers

Nationwide — Kimberly Seals Allers, the host and creator of Birthright, a podcast about joy and healing in Black birth, is marking the end of her second season with the launch of the Black Birthing Joyline, a free phone line and text service designed to uplift joy in Black birth. Featuring two-minute excerpts from podcast guests who had joyful Black birth experiences, callers can dial 844-5GETJOY to move through uplifting audio clips via extensions 1 to 6. Text messages of the excerpts are also available for users who text GETJOY to 844-5GETJOY. The recordings will be updated weekly and the Joyline will run until March 31st.

“2022 was another year of more negative statistics about Black birth outcomes and Black maternal and infant deaths. Black birthing people deserve some joy and healing,” says Kimberly, who is also an award-winning journalist, author and national infant and maternal health advocate. “It’s time to pivot from the doom and gloom narrative too common in mainstream coverage of Black Birth and remember that joy is also a tool for birth equity. Joy is resistance and joy is our Birthright,” she adds.

Birthright is a project of Narrative Nation Inc, a New York City-based media and technology non-profit founded by Seals Allers. Funded by the California Health Care Foundation and the Commonwealth Fund, Seals Allers launched Birthright in 2021 to share positive Black birthing stories as a direct counter narrative to common media coverage. “The system is so used to documenting and showcasing Black pain. I wanted to document our Black birthing joy and ask, what can we learn from joy? ” notes Seals Allers, who is also the founder of Irth app, the first non-profit doctor and hospital rating and review platform for Black and brown parents.

The Birthright podcast features two formats. The main format centers inspiring Black birthing stories that weave in partners, doulas, and others involved in the positive birth experience as well as historical context and expert commentary. In addition, two episodes each season are called “Restoration,” where people who have experienced Black birth trauma are paired with a professional perinatal mental health therapist to support their healing. Birthright podcast guests include actress Christina Elmore from HBO’s Insecure, and Angela Lewis of SnowFall on F/X and topics have covered home births, sperm donation, birthing while HIV positive, and trans birth. The season two finale is a vibrant conversation on cultivating joy for Black birth professionals, such as doulas.

Birthright is produced by Motor City Woman Studios in Detroit, a woman-owned audio production studio headed by Robin Kinnie.

The Black Birthing Joyline is a necessary extension of the podcast’s mission given the challenging state of Black maternal health in the U.S. Recent statistics published by the CDC show the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the maternal mortality rate for Black women. In 2020, Black women were reported to have died at a rate nearly three times higher than that of White counterparts, representing one third of the deaths while only 12% of the population. According to the New York Times, health officials attribute this uptick in mortality to the virus and pandemic-related disruptions which have disproportionately affected Black birthing people. Though causes of death were unspecified in the data, another CDC report published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that between 2017 and 2019, more than 4 out of 5 pregnancy-related deaths were preventable.

In support of the Black Birthing Joyline, a new series of tee shirts and totes have launched at BirthRightPodcast.com/shop/. All proceeds support The Healing Black Birth Fund, which will connect Black perinatal mental health therapists to Black moms and birthing people who have experienced some form of trauma.

Learn more about Birthright at BirthRightPodcast.com. Learn more about Narrative Nation at WeWriteUs.org and the Irth app here.

Narrative Nation Inc. is a Black woman-owned, media and technology non-profit that creates narrative-centered digital platforms and multimedia products to address racial disparities in maternal and infant health. Based in New York City, Narrative Nation also created Irth, as in Birth but without the B for bias, the first-of-its-kind review and rating app for Black and brown parents to find and leave reviews of maternity doctors and birthing hospitals.

Follow @iamKSealsAllers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and @TheIrthApp on Facebook and Instagram.

For press inquiries, contact ksealsallers@gmail.com or 631-455-7462.

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