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Igniting Inspiration at Tea with Lt. Governor. Juliana Stratton & Illinois Birth Workers

inspiration at  tea
Lt. Gov. Stratton (L) with CVD E.D. Lakeesha Harris stand together as Harris gifts the 2023 Strategic Plan image "Dream Chicago" By Soraya Jean-Louis

Last month, Chicago Volunteer Doulas E.D. Lakeesha Harris ignited inspiration at tea with Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton and a host of Midwives, Doulas, and community health workers. They gathered to discuss birth justice in Illinois and the Lt. Governor's initiative to build a task force to analyze the rise in maternal mortality.

Primary discussions focused on the high maternal mortality rate and how to decrease those rates in Illinois. We know that Black mothers in Chicago are at risk of dying in childbirth at a rate six times higher than White mothers. Lt. Governor Stratton wanted to thank those in attendance for all the work done around the state and to help Black birthing people survive and learn more about how our Governor's office can help.

Stratton was concerned about supporting incarcerated pregnant people. E.D. Lakeesha Harris informed her about CVD's Peer Doula Program, which trains incarcerated people to become Doulas that support incarcerated pregnant people. We are in two Prisons, Decatur and our groundbreaking program in Logan Correctional Facility.

E.D. Lakeesha Harris, et. al., pictured with Lt. Gov. Stratton. (Image Credit: @chicagosouthsidebirthcenter on IG)

The Birth Workers highlighted the need for technical support with government funding, and they expressed their concerns about small nonprofit organizations, which often need staff support for raising funds and the resourcefulness to jump through the hoops of government funding.

Overall, Stratton and the Birth Workers found camaraderie in their desire to work diligently to keep Illinois' birthing people safe during childbirth. The consensus was a commitment to understanding and doing the work that addresses inequities in birth justice. All agreed that Indigenous and Black women and birthing people shouldn't have to risk their lives to bring new life into the world.


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