Photos: Office of Brooklyn Borough President
BROOKLYN, NY (November 16, 2022) – Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso (above center) today launched a multimedia, multicultural maternal health public education campaign to connect Brooklynites with information and resources for healthier pregnancies. The campaign includes English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole ads at select Brooklyn bus stops, urban panels at subway stations, and digital ads on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube that lead people to an online resource guide. The ads at bus shelters and subway stations can be found in the primarily Black, Brown, Caribbean, and Latino communities where the highest rates of maternal mortality and morbidity have been reported, including Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, Bushwick, Canarsie, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, East New York, Flatbush, and Williamsburg.
Entirely guided by the Borough President’s Maternal Health Taskforce, the campaign is his latest in a string of maternal health announcements aimed at making Brooklyn the safest place in New York City to have a baby as a Black or Brown person. One-third of pregnancy-related deaths in New York City are residents of Brooklyn, with the ratio on average 9.4 times higher for Black mothers compared to their white counterparts and the crisis in maternal health most acute among Haitian women. Borough President Reynoso’s $250,000 maternal health public education campaign was designed with this in mind.
“Every day, we’re making this borough a little bit safer for Brooklynites dreaming of growing their families,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “To truly end the maternal mortality crisis facing our Black and Brown mothers will take long-term and large-scale structural change – like our upcoming renovations to the maternal healthcare facilities at our public hospitals – but in the meantime, there are steps we can take right now to empower our expecting parents through their pregnancy journey. I’m so grateful to my Maternal Health Taskforce for their incredible expertise as we take yet another step toward saving lives and making Brooklyn the safest place for someone to have a baby.”
“It’s far past time that we do right by every parent and child, no matter the color of their skin or the language they speak,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “The numbers are clear: Black women are nine times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women in New York City. Borough President Reynoso has relentlessly fought these maternal health disparities and is a tireless partner working to make New York City the safest place to start a family. Today’s announcement is a game-changer as we address this crisis and ensures expecting families have the tools, information, and support they need for a healthy pregnancy.”
The campaign’s resource guide, found at www.brooklyn-usa.org/healthypregnancy and translated into multiple languages, approaches pregnancy through five pillars aimed at empowering individuals to advocate for more supportive care before, during, and after pregnancy that has the ability to improve maternal health outcomes. The pillars include:
Prepare for a Safe & Healthy Pregnancy
Take Care of Your Emotional Well-Being
Build Your Pregnancy Care Team
Be Your Own Health Advocate
Navigate Your Postpartum Journey
The information in the healthy pregnancy resource guide includes everything from nutritional guidance, emotional wellness plans, and a person’s legal rights as a patient in New York State, to resources for accessing health insurance, midwifery support, and doula services. The website offers support for people preparing for pregnancy, during pregnancy, and in the year following – when the majority of pregnancy-related deaths occur. The guide was assembled with the expertise of the Borough President’s Maternal Health Taskforce, which is comprised of Black women who work in various spaces of maternal health, from midwifery, obstetrics, mental health, advocacy, and more.
The online resource guide was also distilled for pamphlets that will be distributed to community health clinics and hospital maternal health practices throughout Brooklyn communities where the campaign is live. The pamphlet will be carried in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole, with a total of 50,000 units being distributed across health spaces in Brooklyn.
The creative and ad coordination was led by NYC-based public relations and marketing firm BerlinRosen through an RFP process.
During his campaign, Borough President Reynoso highlighted the gross inequity in maternal deaths and complications between Black and Brown birthing people and their white counterparts. As Borough President, he pledged to reduce this disparity in Brooklyn and make the borough the safest place to have a baby in the city by the end of his administration.
In April 2022, Borough President Reynoso launched his Maternal Health Taskforce to begin developing and executing his maternal health agenda, and by July 2022, the Borough President had allocated his entire $45M FY23 capital budget toward maternal health care improvements at the three Brooklyn public hospitals:
NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County: $15.625M to renovate the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) and mother-baby units;
NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island: $18.5M to renovate the outpatient care center, labor and delivery rooms, post-partum recovery rooms, and NICU; and
NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull: $11M to build a state-of-the-art birthing center.
Borough President Reynoso is the first Borough President to allocate an entire fiscal year’s capital funding to one cause, and within one city organization. Just two weeks ago, Borough President Reynoso further advanced his historic maternal health efforts with the pilot of “Born in Brooklyn” baby boxes, which contain free baby supplies and post-partum resources for new parents. Made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President to Met Council, America’s largest Jewish charity, a total of 500 post-partum families receiving care at select Brooklyn hospitals and clinics will receive the boxes.
“The Brooklyn Borough President and the Maternal Health Taskforce believe that knowledge is power!” said Helena Grant, Co-chair of Borough President Antonio Reynoso’s Maternal Health Taskforce and Director of Midwifery Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull. “We are proud to offer information that honors the principles of multiculturalism while also centering communities most affected by maternal mortality and morbidity in the borough of Brooklyn. We are hopeful that this is another step in creating the change women, birthing people, families, and communities most certainly deserve.”
“I am delighted that the Borough president is leading the way on centering the needs of Black and Latino women and birthing persons in Brooklyn. This campaign makes a myriad of resources readily available to the families and communities we serve. Together, we have the capacity to eliminate birth inequities in NYC in our lifetime, by addressing structural racism and countering disinvestment. I remain hopeful and grateful for the opportunity to serve on this taskforce, at this time, in the borough of Brooklyn,” said Dr. Zahirah McNatt, Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Brooklyn Neighborhood Health for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“This educational campaign is a perfect example why I joined Borough President Reynoso’s maternal health taskforce. I am honored to be a part of this working group, creating community information and awareness to help our pregnant persons and new mothers to connect to services and resources they need,” said Executive Director at Brooklyn Perinatal Network, Inc. Ngozi Moses.
“The unfair truth is that Black and Brown women face a higher mortality rate during pregnancy and childbirth than any other racial group across New York City,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “Too often, systemic barriers make it more difficult for women to access the maternal health resources they deserve I applaud Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso for investing in this new multicultural, multilingual maternal health public education campaign to ensure women have the information they need to have a safe pregnancy.”
“Though pregnancy can be a precious and blessed experience for expecting mothers, and though our modern society has achieved impossible breakthroughs in the field of maternal health, far too many pregnant people across our nation and our city continue to face terrible risks throughout their term. For Black and Brown communities, in particular, devastating maternal health rates are as common as they are avoidable. But we are fortunate to know Brooklyn is on a better path, today. Borough President Reynoso’s new public education campaign will deliver resources and information meaningful enough to not only change lives, but save them. I thank him for his work and commitment towards securing a better future for maternal health in Brooklyn, and I look forward to working at his side in this critical space for years to come,” said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke
“As a Black woman and as a mom, I take the issue of maternal health quite seriously. I have for years screamed from the mountain tops about the need to improve maternal outcomes – especially for Black women,” said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker. “The city released a report late last year that revealed in stunning detail what many of us have known for a long time. Black women are eight times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women in New York City. Maternal outcomes are also alarmingly perilous among Hispanic and Haitian women. A separate report from a few years ago showed that the highest rates of Severe Maternal Morbidity (SMM) were in Brownsville, East Flatbush and East New York. I represent parts of each of those communities. I applaud Borough President Antonio Reynoso for educating the public and for arming people with information that could save lives.”
“I am once again delighted to commend Borough President Reynoso for his commitment to ensuring healthy pregnancies for all,” said Council Member and Chair of NYC Council Committee on Hospitals Mercedes Narcisse. “With Haitian women facing the highest risks during pregnancy, I am particularly pleased that the educational campaign will include ads in Kreyol to help reach this vulnerable population. This is the type of impactful solution our borough needs to reduce the maternal health inequities faced by so many Brooklynites on a daily basis.”
“I’m thrilled to see Borough President Reynoso continue his work to make Brooklyn the safest place to have a baby. The challenges of delivering safely as a Black or brown woman are not abstract for these communities, and sadly too many birthing people have experienced health complications or loss as a result of deep racial inequities in our healthcare system,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez. “Directly connecting pregnant people to educational resources and information is critical in empowering them to make the best choices for their health, their babies, and their families.”
“Maternal health issues are reaching crisis levels for Brooklyn’s Black and brown communities,” said Council Member Sandy Nurse. “It’s crucial that we offer culturally and linguistically competent information and resources to pregnant people in our communities. I applaud Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso’s commitment to making Brooklyn the safest place in NYC to have a baby, and his investment in this public education campaign.”