91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Stateside Podcast: A birth center for Detroiters

Collage by Rachel Ishikawa

A new free-standing birthing center is expected to open its doors in April of 2024. Led by midwives, Birth Detroit aims to provide a safe and culturally relevant “full care experience from period-to-period” for expecting families.

Stateside spoke with two of Birth Detroit’s co-founders, Char’ly Snow and Leseliey Welch, about why they wanted to open a birthing center and about the services Birth Detroit already provides.

As of 2021, the maternal mortality rate in the United States was 2.6 times higher for Black birthing people than it was for white birthing people. Both Snow and Welch have personally seen how racial disparities in not only birthing outcomes and but also birthing options particularly impact Black communities.

“I was exposed to women's health through my mother's eyes, as she experienced complications in the laboring process of my brother,” Snow said. “I was 13 years old at that time, and at that early age, I knew that I would serve women right by their side as a first responder.”

When Snow was exposed to midwifery in college, she said she immediately knew she wanted to be a midwife. She has served for large medical institutions, and now serves as Birth Detroit’s chief clinical officer.

“This will be my footprint for my community. This is the way that I'm going to give back. To serve women that look like me, and who are me,” Snow said.

Welch said that she fell in love with birth as a birth doula when she was in public health graduate school. As she continued to work in different public health positions for the City of Detroit, she also experienced her own grief and loss related to birth. Those personal experiences, along with seeing maternal health at the city level, made Welch passionate about making midwifery care accessible to families in Detroit.

Welch, who is the CEO of Birth Detroit, has a holistic understanding of care that moves beyond a lens that only considers accessibility.

“What is also important is that we have access to care that is designed for us, for our safety and well-being, and care that is designed with more than survival in mind,” Welch said. “I know that our focus on infant mortality, maternal mortality is warranted because there is a tremendous amount of change to happen there, and [survival] is also the least of what we should expect.”

Birth Detroit has been providing prenatal and postpartum care since October 2020. The center said that they’ve been able to work with double the number of families they had anticipated, reaching over 400 families — and that number will continue to grow. This spring, with the opening of their birthing center, Birth Detroit will be able to provide wellness care as well.

Welch cited research that shows most expectant pregnant people could safely give birth at a birthing center, and yet this is still not a common option in the United States. With their upcoming birthing center, Birth Detroit is working to help people further understand midwifery and birth centers, as well as to provide additional birthing options for people who do not anticipate needing intervention throughout their birthing experience.

Snow said the full continuum of care at Birth Detroit provides families with a homelike experience.

“We pride ourselves on the spirit of care at Birth Detroit,” Snow said. “Walking through our doors, many families would describe it as walking into a family reunion where you, your children, your spouses, feel attended to, centered in the care and the leaders of their care.”


  • Char'ly Snow, co-founder and chief clinical officer of Birth Detroit
  • Leseliey Welch, co-founder and CEO of Birth Detroit

[Get Stateside on your phone: subscribe on Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube, or YouTube Music today.]

Stay Connected
Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.
Olivia Mouradian recently graduated from the University of Michigan and joined the Stateside team as an intern in May 2023.