ST. LOUIS – Filmmaker Emmett Williams is helping St. Louis recognize Black Maternal Health Week with a documentary screening of his film, “Sister Doula.”

“Every single Black woman that I spoke to had had some sort of negative experience with the U.S. health industry,” he said.

Williams the documentary is about a nurse in Kansas City advocating for equal access for Black women during pregnancy.

Local healthcare leaders said the statistics are shocking in the St. Louis region.

“Our Black babies are three times more likely to die than white babies. Our Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die as compared to white mothers,” Dr. Jade James-Halbert, department chair of obstetrics and gynecology at SSM DePaul Hospital, said.

James-Halbert said the St. Louis region faces a range of issues for Black mothers.

“Lack of access to healthy food and healthcare, to misinformation, to unhealthy environments, and lack of transportation,” he said.

SSM, along with the St. Louis City and St. Louis County health departments, are helping to bring change to the area.

“By focusing on risk factors, screening pregnant and recently pregnant moms for depression and substance use disorders and providing referrals and immediate sources, the unmet needs can be met,” Dr. Matifadza Hlatshwayo, director of City of St. Louis Health Department, said.

Williams is screening the film Thursday in St. Louis. He’s spent five years filming and shining a spotlight on the issue. “

“I filmed many, many doula classes and birthing exams and staff meetings, and the result is ‘Sister Doula,’” said Williams.