TAMPA, Fla. — We’ve heard the devastating numbers from the Florida Department of Health that show Black women were almost four times more likely to have a pregnancy-related death compared to white women. The numbers from the Centers for Disease Control an Prevention (CDC) for Black infants in the U.S. have 2.4 times the infant mortality rate as whites.

Those are the kind of numbers that have dads in our area coming together to help with solutions. 

What You Need To Know

Jamaur Johnson is one of those dads who wants to do more.

“I have a 14-year-old, so I was 23. Have a ten-year-old, I was 27 and now I have a three-year-old and I’m 37,” he said.

Johnson said he can remember the birth of each of his children — sort of.

“I was in the room for two out of the three,” he said. “I was literally in the lobby for my third. He came out in one minute. They rolled him back. I went to park the car and he was out. So, I wasn’t in there for that one but the first two I was, and I passed out.”

This was before he learned about the dangers associated with the devastating numbers for Black maternal and infant mortality rates. Now, he’s finding ways to help advocate for families.

“The main thing is to appreciate greatness for the people who are here. The ones that know that this is a subject that needs to be talked about, because you don’t know what you don’t know. For me, I had no idea. I learned so much about fatherhood and the expectations,” he said.

That’s the message Michael Morgan wants to get out to as many dads as possible. He’s the REACHUP Communications and Outreach Manager in charge of the male involvement program at the nonprofit: Respond, Educate, Advocate, & Collaborate for Health in Underserved Populations (REACHUP).

“The male involvement program are programs that are designed to help men be more engaged with the children in the house,” he said. “Dads are difficult, because dads don’t socialize like women do. And dads go through a different trust process. So, for us, we spend a lot of time trying to get next to the dad to make the dad feel comfortable.”

Morgan said they’re working with agencies and other organizations that cater to men. They’re even going into jails to do outreach. Morgan said it’s vital when it comes to impacting those deadly infant and maternal mortality rates.

“It plays a lot because a lot of the clients we deal with are Black and their families. And often times, fathers don’t recognize how important their roles are, and how they affect mom and the baby in that process, and what we help them to do is understand there’s more to being a dad then just going to work or paying a bill,” he said.

Effective communication, counseling referrals for dads who have lost a child or a spouse during childbirth are some of the services REACHUP offers.

If there was ever any doubt about a father’s role in the birthing process, studies show 1 in 10 dads suffer from postpartum depression.

It’s why experts say they’re being so intentional with their work with dads, especially the ones impacted most by those devastating numbers linked to childbirth.

The Black Maternal Health Conference hosted by USF's College of Public Health is hosting a night specifically for fathers, called “Men In The Movement, Advancing Black Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice.” It’s being held at the Sulphur Springs K-8 Community Partnership School. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.

View a list of scheduled Black Maternal Health Week events from USF's College of Public Health.