While many local businesses are struggling during the pandemic, a pair of San Diego midwives are countering the trend and preparing to open their own birth center in Bankers Hill.
There are only a few Black midwives in San Diego County and Nikki Helms, along with her business partner Darynee Blount are hoping to make their services more available to minority communities.
“It’s gonna be awesome, you just have to trust us,” said Helms as she gave NBC 7 a tour of her new office space.
“My objective was to start a birth center that would spend time focusing on people of color, Black families, indigenous families,” Helms said.
Helms and Blount have been helping San Diego area mothers for years, but they wanted to expand their reach to communities that may not typically have access to midwifery services.
“We are able to take on clients. Give them more individualized care. Give them more consumer driven informed care,” said Helms.
This dream may not have been realized had it not been for donations they received on GoFundMe. They’ve received more than $100,000 to help them secure a lease on their building.
“For people to donate to my GoFundMe and to basically say to me with their dollars that they believed in me was amazing,” said Helms.
Midwives are only used in about 10% of pregnancies in the U.S. but are used much more commonly in other countries. Some studies show that midwives can produce healthier outcomes. That is especially important in the Black community. Black mothers are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy related complications than white women according to the CDC.
“We want to take that component out of it and give the highest standard of care to all people, in particular, our Black families,” said Blount.
Blount also says the demand for her services has increased during the pandemic because mothers who are concerned about being exposed to hospitals.
As Helms and Blount finish work on their space, they plan to continue to empower mothers, and likely inspire the next generation of black women leaders.
The goal is to open the new birth center in January. Helms and Blount are still taking donations.