In a way, their tribe got its start in Jamaica. Jillian Baker and Sinora Allwood, longtime friends, traveled there, to Montego Bay, for a vacation to celebrate Baker’s 40th birthday.
“We were just catching up on life,” Allwood explained. “And we discovered that Jill and I had both suffered from infertility. We were like, ‘Wow, how didn’t we know this about each other? We could have been each other’s support system.’”
Back in ’91, Baker and Allwood became friends when they were in eighth and seventh grade respectively, when they carpooled together from their homes in the Bronx to private school in the suburbs.
The friends stayed close over the years. Allwood studied to become a registered nurse and health coach, and Baker, now an associate professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, earned a doctorate in public health from Drexel.
They’d been quiet, as many parents are, about their struggles getting pregnant before they had their children. Both women were well aware of stark disparities that Black parents experience. Black women are more likely to experience infertility, more likely to have pregnancy-related complications, and more likely to die pregnancy-related deaths, while a racist notions persists, contrary to evidence, that Black women are more fertile. In Philadelphia, non-Hispanic Black women account for 43 percent of births, but 73 percent of pregnancy-related deaths, according to city data.
So when they’d returned stateside, Allwood to Lawrenceville, Ga., and Baker to Cherry Hill, N.J., they continued their conversation on Black maternal health. They began planning towards a podcast series. The series, A Tribe Called Fertility, launched in September 2020 and completed its 16-episode first season last week. The second season will premiere in September.
The podcasters spoke to The Inquirer about the series and the tribe they’ve been gathering— a community of Black parents facing these issues. This interview has been edited and condensed for length.
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SOURCE: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cassie Owens