Whether feeding neighbors through urban agriculture or advocating for maternal and child healthcare as a doula, Quatia (“Q”) Osorio, CCHW, CLC, CPE has been planting the seeds for equitable and effective models of community-based care for years. Following a miscarriage, Osorio experienced anxiety and self-doubt when pregnant with her fourth child, and she sought alternative forms of healing.
But she didn’t stop there. After the birth of her daughter – and many workshops, degrees, and organizing efforts – Osorio launched the Urban Perinatal Education Center (UPEC) last year. “It was born out of my own inability to find cultural and racial identity in my birthing community,” she says. “Why complain about what you don't have when you can become what you wish you could give to others?”
Functioning as a complementary resource to existing birthing institutions, UPEC is a family- and community-centered entity closing the gap in perinatal care and addressing the maternal health crisis facing Black women in Rhode Island. “Providence is a materno-toxic zone. Housing is unstable, employment is insecure, environments are toxic, and supports are fragmented,” says Osorio, noting the need for culturally responsive pregnancy and postpartum education. “The Urban Perinatal Education Center is [the result of] several years of community justice, equity, access, hope, and love. It’s a safe space for BIPOC birthing persons, intentionally creating cultural and racial representation by our providers, educators, and staff.”
Osorio looks forward to big things on the horizon for UPEC this year, including bringing Chocolate Milk Cafe RI (a Black breastfeeding support group) to the center, expanding their workforce and reach, adding childbirth education courses to their offerings (available in several languages), and introducing a doula referral network hotline connecting families with providers.
Still farming, Osorio also hopes to get expecting families on the land to connect with their local community gardens. “Food justice, environmental justice, and maternal health are deeply intertwined, exacerbating or decreasing the outcomes of maternal health injustice and inequities. Land medicine is healthy – being in the soil, being in community – and this is true for our expecting families.”
Reason for Optimism: “I hope to own a freestanding birth center in Rhode Island and create a perinatal workforce pipeline that will be equitable, sustainable, and promote the wellbeing of all birthing persons. I hope to help create a perinatal workforce that will be a model for other states. I desire to remove any antiquated, adverse barriers of access to reproductive justice and care for families to have the most validated and loving experiences of their lives. I have hope for RI – that’s my reason.”
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