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Social justice, Infant health services, Health equity, Racial justice


This study concerns racialized experiences of reproductive oppression among Black women and the efforts of one organization - Multnomah County’s Healthy Birth Initiatives (HBI) - to combat this oppression and move towards Reproductive Justice. This study explores how Black women experience and respond to racism-related stress and its impacts on their health during and after pregnancy and subsequent parenting. The project was informed by a pilot focus group conducted in 2016 by Drs. Jenna Ramaker and Roberta Hunte in partnership with HBI, which asked HBI clients about the role of toxic stress and racism-related stress in their lives. The current study - led by Drs. Roberta Hunte and Susanne Klawetter - expands that initial focus to include the perspectives of current and former clients, as well as HBI staff.

The following research questions guided the current study:

  • How do Black women describe the experiences and impacts of racism-related stress as it relates to their pregnancy, health and parenting?
  • How does HBI mitigate the impact of racism-related stress on clients’ pregnancy, health, and parenting, and how can program activities be enhanced?
  • What is the shared impact of racism-related stress on Black women’s health between HBI staff and former HBI clients, as well as the lasting impact of HBI in building resiliency among Black women?


Permission to disseminate this report was given by the Multnomah County Healthy Birth Initiative.

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