Taylor King held her 21-month-old son, Sterling King, as he napped underneath a tent in Jackson Park on Saturday as she remembered what it was like to have to drive 40 minutes from her home on the South Side of Chicago to her birthing center where Sterling was born in 2020.
King made the 40-minute drive three times that day while in labor after being told she wasn’t dilated enough yet and had to go home then come back.
What made the experience as a first-time mom easier, she said, was having a support system and resources available to her that were rooted in the Black community, like the Chicago South Side Birth Center and its founder and lead steward, Jeanine Valrie Logan, who was King’s midwife.
“I do live on the South Side of Chicago, but the birthing center she (Jeanine) was at was out on the West Side,” King said. “I had to travel 40 minutes just to be seen by a health care professional, so now I’m here to bring awareness and advocate for other Black and brown moms that are on the South Side and don’t have enough resources.”
King was participating in the Chicago South Side Birth Center’s first “Latch and Stroll” event Saturday to commemorate the 10th year of Black Breastfeeding Week. The event brought some 50 people, a mix of parents and their children, to Jackson Park to enjoy a walk around the park with family and friends as well as other tents and tables set up around the grass with food, resources and activities like a yoga session, painting and a breastfeeding workshop.
Valrie Logan said the goal was to bring awareness and provide resources to the community on breastfeeding and general wellness surrounding pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum.
She said she hopes to continue to host this event during Black Breastfeeding Week every year and hopes the event only gets bigger and better for communities who need it.
Anya Tanya Vutti is the executive director of Chicago Volunteer Doulas, an organization that supports the city’s “vulnerable communities,” she said. Valrie Logan was formerly a doula with the organization, she said, and she was out Saturday supporting Valrie Logan’s birth center and breastfeeding event.
Chicago Tribune editors’ top story picks, delivered to your inbox each afternoon.
Tanya Vutti said Black and brown communities concentrated on the South Side of Chicago are disproportionately affected by the lack of resources, and it’s “everyone’s right to have access to high-quality, culturally-congruent health care that feels safe and informed and representative.”
“I’m really excited to have that gap filled and that injustice corrected on the South Side,” Tanya Vutti said.
The South Side Birth Center was started by Valrie Logan last June. They are in the process of officially being recognized as a nonprofit, and she announced to the crowd gathered Saturday that the birth center has found a building on South Stony Island Avenue and East 84th Street, where they hope to move in by the end of next year. A fundraising campaign was also started with the goal of raising $400,000 in 90 days to secure the building.
The birth center will offer health care during pregnancy, birthing suites and postpartum care as well as other gynecological and reproductive care and more, Valrie Logan said.
Valrie Logan has been a trained midwife for three years and works at PCC South Family Health Center in Berwyn. Prior to that, she worked as a doula for 10 years.
Valrie Logan said the impetus for the Chicago South Side Birth Center was the labor and delivery of her last daughter. She had to travel to Berwyn, a trip that took an hour and 40 minutes.
“I was in labor,” she said. “People deserve to be able to get care in their community. People deserve to have babies in their neighborhood.”