Voices for Birth Justice
A Campaign and Movement to Raise Awareness of Birth Justice
Black women in the U.S—regardless of class or education—are 2‑to‑3 times more likely to die during childbirth and 60% more likely to have a premature baby than their white counterparts. The fight for Birth Justice is the fight for Black and Brown women to have the pregnancy they want, deserve, and have been systematically excluded from. At the frontline of the birth justice movement, there are parents, providers, doulas, lactation consultants, and community activists fighting tirelessly to raise awareness of preterm birth and improve the lives of parents and their babies. The UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative looked to IDEO.org to help build their momentum and amplify their impact.
Voices for Birth Justice was launched as a public awareness campaign in honor of World Prematurity Day in 2019. There is also now an official website and social media accounts that we encourage you to follow: www.voicesforbirthjustice.org and www.instagram.com/voices4birthjustice
For over three weeks in San Francisco, Oakland, and Fresno, IDEO.org’s design team spoke with 40+ individuals. To begin to understand the complexities of birth justice, they sought out a range of people and perspectives across the ecosystem. They interviewed and led co-design sessions with mothers, fathers, grandparents, caregivers, preconception women, doctors, nurses, doulas, lactation consultants, community leaders, organizers, educators, and experts.
During the prototyping phase, the design team developed different campaign materials that diverged in look and feel, tone, target audience, channel, and strategy in order to collect a lot of learnings in a short amount of time. Some of the materials were designed to focus on the somber statistics of preterm birth in communities of color while other versions featured photography and optimistic quotes from women. One of the campaign concepts called “Every Week Counts” was prototyped quickly on a new Facebook page to learn how mothers might be mobilized by sharing their own personal stories related to preterm birth. There were also a variety of posters placed across doctor’s offices, waiting rooms, clinics, and community centres in the Bay Area in order to get feedback on different concepts and messaging.
The design team was intentional about co-designing throughout the process—a group of Latina moms helped craft messages and a manifesto; community influencers in Fresno gave poignant feedback about the campaign’s calls to action; a booth was set-up at a local event in Oakland, and the design team had a candid conversation with community leaders at a local San Francisco organization called Black Infant Health. During the final week of prototyping, intercepts were conducted to get feedback on which campaign directions resonated most strongly. Members of the community were decision-makers at every critical moment of the process—they participated in interviews, synthesis, and prototyping, providing feedback while sharing their stories in every moment.
During the design process, the design team learned how much work was already being done in each community to support at-risk moms, new moms, and parents. Although there were individuals and organizations working hard to solve maternal health inequalities that lead to preterm birth, there there were still many parents who were at risk of, or experiencing preterm birth, that weren’t getting connected to these resources at the right time. Based on everything the team heard through research, the final design direction and strategy for the awareness campaign was developed. One of the elements designed for the Voices of Birth Justice campaign was a resource aggregator that could connect parents to resources in their own community.
As part of the final deliverable for UCSF’s PTBI team, the design team developed a roadmap of how to execute the proposed awareness campaign. Details around major milestones such as when to launch the website, when to host a public launch event, when and how to post on social media channels were all included in the roadmap document.
By raising awareness and gaining momentum around the issue, UCSF hopes that the long term impact will be to change policy around maternal care for communities of color.