In Brownsville, a Healthy Start for Babies

Tashanna and Malika listen to Gabriela at a recent class in Brownsville. (Photo by Stephanie Daniel for Voices of NY)

Starting last month, bus shelters across Brownsville, Brooklyn, were adorned with a poster from the health department. It reads, “We’ve got your back.” The advertising campaign promotes Healthy Start Brooklyn, a program at the borough’s Neighborhood Health Action Center that offers comprehensive family wellness services to pregnant women, expectant fathers, infants and families in central and eastern Brooklyn.

Healthy Start Brooklyn is part of the city’s strategy to reduce perinatal health inequities and improve the health and wellness of expectant and new families. Brownsville was chosen for the ad campaign because the neighborhood has been historically deprived of resources, which has led to inequalities in infant mortality, maternal mortality and other birth outcomes. In 2015, Brownsville’s rates of preterm and low birth weight babies were the highest in New York City.

Healthy Start Brooklyn’s services include the By My Side Support Program, which provides doula support during childbirth, a parenting group for fathers, a support program for expectant mothers and a range of classes from childbirth education to postpartum exercise.

Multimedia journalist Stephanie Daniel sat in on a birthing class at Brooklyn’s Neighborhood Health Action Center in Brownsville.

This report is one of a series of Voices of NY stories looking at health equity issues in the NYC area. Support for the series has been provided by the New York State Nurses Association.

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