Serena Williams and Elaine Welteroth Launch birthFUND to Support Black Moms

Celebrity moms Elaine Welteroth and Serena Williams started birthFUND to help Black mothers during childbirth.

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Serena Williams and Elaine Welteroth Launch birthFUND to Support Black Moms
Serena Williams and Elaine Welteroth (Photo: Instagram @elainewelteroth's profile picture elainewelteroth)

Tennis legend Serena Williams and Journalist Elaine Welteroth have joined forces to tackle maternal mortality head-on through the birthFUND initiative. Announced to coincide with Black Maternal Health Week in April 2024, the birthFUND aims to “provide resources, support, and advocacy to improve the maternal health experiences and outcomes for Black mothers.” According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of all industrialized nations. Yet the majority of maternal and infant deaths in the U.S. are preventable.

As Williams candidly shared, her own childbirth in 2017 was life-threatening, requiring four surgeries afterward. Welteroth also “felt unsafe with doctors” during her 2021 pregnancy, leading her to opt for midwifery care – “the best decision I ever made.”

The birthFUND’s core goal is to provide funding to allow more Black mothers to access midwifery care reducing maternal deaths.

Between Serena’s first birth experience and mine, more than 3,400 mothers died during or after childbirth in the U.S. That’s 3,400 prayers never whispered into tiny ears—3,400 parents who won’t be able to watch their beautiful babies grow up. This should not be the norm in the country with the largest economy in the world.


It will directly fund midwifery and holistic perinatal care for families lacking access, while “building power within the birth justice movement” by increasing collaboration between organizations.

Welteroth passionately stated on Instagram, “We believe this is a model of care worthy of all of our investment. And until our country catches up, let’s do our part to make it more accessible for more families all across the country.” She emphasized the need for collective action: “This is how we build power to change systems over time. Collectively. Proactively. Loudly. They will catch up.”

The data speaks volumes – the U.S. has only 4 midwives per 1,000 live births, far below the WHO’s recommended 6 per 1,000. With over 3.7 million annual births, at least 22,000 midwives are needed. Welteroth affirmed their goal is “to make a clear business case for why more comprehensive birth care, at lower costs, with better outcomes for all should be a no-brainer in America.”

Through the birthFUND, Williams and Welteroth aim to disrupt a system that has failed too many mothers, especially those of color. By increasing access to midwifery care proven to reduce maternal deaths, they are taking a crucial step towards equity. As Welteroth declared, “Let’s take our power back – one family at a time.”

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