pgh a safer childbirth city


Pittsburgh: A Safer Childbirth City is an initiative that aims to transform the city into a safer, more equitable, and accessible place to give birth. The initiative is built on recognizing the importance of collaborating and listening to mothers and their families to address Pittsburgh's disparities in maternal health outcomes to build a better future for moms in Pittsburgh.


The Safer Childbirth Cities Initiative was created by Merck for Mothers to foster local solutions that help cities become safer – and more equitable – places to give birth. Pittsburgh was selected by Merck for Mothers as their tenth grantee, part of the inaugural Safer Childbirth Cities cohort announced in 2019.

The Disparities

According to a 2015-2016 Community Health Assessment, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) reported that of 3,348 births, Black women in Pittsburgh were more likely to:

  • Not access prenatal care in the first trimester (12.7% compared to 10.8% reported on white women)
  • Experience low birth weight (13.7% compared to 6.7% reported on births to white women)
  • Not breastfeed (33.6% compared to 17.9% reported on white women)

Project Overview

The three-year plan for the Pittsburgh: A Safer Childbirth City initiative was designed around four pillars:

  1. Care delivery model re-design and systems change
  2. Workforce innovation and training
  3. Local movement building
  4. Community engagement and volunteerism

Programmatic Goals

  • Narrow health disparities among mothers in Pittsburgh by improving access to comprehensive and high-quality evidence-based maternity care through the establishment of the WHAMglobal Community Fund
  • Build a community-driven campaign around safer childbirth to support regional efforts
  • Train and support local mothers as maternal and child health advocates, co-creators, and catalysts for change through the Community Advisory Group
  • Improve postpartum health outcomes for mothers in Pittsburgh and decrease incidence of maternal mortality and morbidity through the Mothers Supporting Mothers Program
  • Locally translate key interventions from the PA PQC by connecting the local healthcare facilities in the PA PQC to the city-wide coalition of community partners
  • Build local momentum, visibility, and support for maternal and child health issues and public policies
  • Support and promote multidisciplinary maternity care teams through the establishment of a Perinatal Champions program and other workforce training and coaching initiatives

Program Activities

  1. WHAMglobal Community Fund: Improving Collaboration and Coordination Among Local Service Providers
  2. Community Advisory: Listen and engage local mothers in collaboration with Healthy Start, Inc.
  3. Mothers Supporting Mothers” volunteer program with Hello Neighbor
  4. Perinatal Health Equity Champions Program: pairing community health workers with hospital health works to complete a didactic Quality Improvement course then collaborate on community-led QI projects to improve perinatal care
  5. Birthing A Movement


The Pittsburgh: A Safer Childbirth City coalition: the Mayor of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Health Department and Department of Human Services, City and State Representatives, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, UPMC Health Plan, Highmark Health, Highmark Inc., Hillman Family Foundations, The Heinz Endowments, Gateway Health, Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh, Healthy Start, Kids Plus Pediatrics, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives PA Affiliate, among other partners.