When model and writer Marz Lovejoy became pregnant with her second child, she decided to do things a little differently this time around. Situated in the midst of the tech era and the COVID-19 outbreak, Lovejoy wanted to reflect the times, while also shining a light on Black maternal mortality rates. So she decided to livestream her home birth.

As documented by the CDC, between 1987 and 2016, Black women died at three to four times the rate that white mothers did during childbirth. These staggering numbers have everything to do with race and class, and the luxuries that Black women often aren’t afforded during the process of giving birth. When faced with those facts, Lovejoy felt a pull to start her live birth series campaign.

“[I’m] thinking about women, specifically women of color and Black women, who are pregnant. This may be their first time giving birth in a hospital setting and [think about] how scary that can look right now,” Lovejoy told ESSENCE. She delivered her first child at home in 2018, and wanted other mothers to have that same comfort and support. To help, Lovejoy has started a fund that will feed into grants, allowing Black women and women of color to have access to the money necessary to secure a doulas and midwives, and also help doulas and midwives get through the necessary training to become certified.

Lovejoy’s live birth, which will include her daughter and husband, stylist and Office Magazine Editor-in-Chief Simon Rasmussen, will happen in St. Paul, Minnesota, at Lovejoy’s mother and grandmother’s home. Her due date is May 4, 2o2o.

When speaking about the state of the world and how COVID-19 has created space for an increasing amount of livestream content, Lovejoy said, “We’re living in a real virtual reality now [with] livestreaming and digital conferences. Communication is a lot more digital than it was even just a month ago. So I wanted to merge those ideas and use my platform to really spread awareness.”

Support for Lovejoy and her mission has poured in. She’s crowd sourced $8,722 in less than a month, and notable figures such as Kehlani and Erykah Badu have agreed to support the campaign in various ways. Kehlani and Lovejoy went live last week to discuss motherhood and home births, while Badu will fill the role of Lovejoy’s virtual doula.

“Once [Badu agreed,] that really put the battery in my back and I was like ‘okay, I can really make this work,'” Lovejoy said excitedly.

Keep up with Lovejoy by following her on Instagram, and be on the lookout for a live stream link.

Donate to her campaign here.

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