Elaine Baca, a documentary and lifestyle photographer from Dallas, has always loved capturing families' most tender moments. After starting her business, she jumped into birth photography, but it wasn't until she met Tereé and Kennasha, the midwives at My Sister's Keeper - an organization dedicated to helping Black women have a positive birth experience - that she really began to work with Black moms-to-be in the community.
"Tereé and Kennasha informed me about the huge difference in birth outcomes for Black women compared to white women when I met them two years ago," Elaine told POPSUGAR. "We talked about how important it is for pregnant women to see birth stories of people who look like them, so they feel empowered to give birth. We also talked about how few birth stories depict Black families."
Now, Elaine works with the midwives at My Sister's Keeper regularly. "I immediately knew that I wanted to work with them. I wanted to do whatever I could to help tell these families' stories in order to bring awareness to this growing issue of maternal mortality in America for Black women and babies," explained Elaine. "I can't even count the amount of times people have told me they had no idea this was even an issue. Many of them want to know why more people aren't talking about it."
"Black History Month is upon us. For many of us, this month means the celebration of Black Americans in our past who fought for the freedom and equal rights of all people - but especially people of color," she captioned the photos. "Unfortunately, while many of us celebrate this month with good intentions, we too often only use this time to affirm ourselves and our culture and how far we have come. I'm here to tell you that the tireless fight for equality and equity is far from over - and this is painfully evident in the maternal and fetal mortality rates for Black women and their babies."
"These women and their babies aren't just statistics put out by the CDC, they are real people with real lives."
She continued, noting that Black women need to have access to more care before giving birth, given the startling statistics. "Across the country, Black women are more than four times as likely to die during childbirth than white women," she said. "They are also much more likely to experience birth-related complications and experience pre-term birth. Equal outcome is absolutely not a reality for Black women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery."
And while Elaine's photos certainly capture the emotional elements of giving birth, she willingly admits that the midwives are the ones who should really be recognized. "Tereé and Kennasha are the ones doing most of the hard work in caring for families day to day!" said Elaine. "I have been attending births with them and photographing prenatal appointments. My goal with the photos is to help people understand that these women and their babies aren't just statistics put out by the CDC, they are real people with real lives."
Keep reading to get a look at Elaine's work, and visit My Sister's Keeper's GoFundMe page if you'd like to donate to its fundraiser for infant and maternal mortality.