Imagining Birth in a Just World


...What birth would look like in a just world.
...If the information need about pregnancy, birthing and childrearing experiences was relatable and digestible.
...If California recognized premature birth as a critical health issue in our communities.

What We Did

This summer the California Preterm Birth Initiative worked with to undergo a human-centered design sprint exploring the question, “how might we raise awareness of preterm birth?” in order to shine a light on this urgent issue in a way that builds on strengths, and moves people to action.

We started by activating a group of key stakeholders to advise this work, representing Fresno, Oakland and San Francisco. We conducted interviews and focus groups with over 100 parents, grandparents, teens, providers, birth workers, community advocates, and leaders across our three locations. We heard their stories, their fears, and their hopes.

We developed messages and tested them. We heard what worked and we heard what didn’t. We brainstormed, used 1,000 sticky notes, and continually re-centered the work on community voices.

What We Heard

Through interviews and focus groups throughout Oakland, San Francisco and Fresno, we heard clearly that people did not want to engage with a campaign that forecasted one more health epidemic, burdening their communities. While people consistently spoke about how normalized delivering early was in their communities, they reacted negatively towards messaging prototypes leading with facts about disparities, or messages that led by defining preterm birth.

Instead, people were continually drawn to stories of the champions within their communities who are working to address maternal and child health outcomes. By uplifting the work of birth justice warriors, we can create an opportunity for people to learn about prematurity through stories of strength. By providing information on premature birth in the context of a larger story around birth- in a positive, asset-focused way- we were able to pique people’s interest and reflect their reality.

In every community we visited, we met individuals and organizations who are devoting their lives to solve maternal health inequalities that lead to preterm birth. They are advocates who hold knowledge and connection to resources.

What We Created

Birth Justice Warriors are on the front lines of preterm birth and its social determinants. They are the voices of the movement, offering guidance and advocacy to those who seek support. Anyone can become a Birth Justice Warrior- they are if they take up the fight of birth justice.

By elevating the term “birth justice”, and building our campaign around this emerging movement, we catalyze the great work of the people who are already at the forefront of this issue. The campaign will grow into an online resource, for advocates and families.

We are moms, dads, grandparents, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. We are doulas and lactation consultants. We are nurses, doctors and midwives. We are community activists, social workers, and changemakers.

Join Us

Follow Birth Justice Warriors on Instagram @BirthJusticeWarriors.
We look forward to sharing more about the campaign as it progresses!