On Tuesday the first congressional caucus on black maternal health launched on Capitol Hill. Led by Democrat congresswomen Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) and freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Il.) the caucus’s mission is to ensure black women are not dying senselessly during or after childbirth
As has been noted here many times before black women experience maternal mortality rates four times higher than white mothers no matter black women’s socioeconomic status or even the level of education achieved. In general, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country. Black women fare the worst.
After recently receiving a press release about a pregnancy docuseries on Facebook Watch I have been hooked! As a maternal health advocate, it takes a lot to stop me in my tracks, but 9 Months With Courteney Coxhas really opened my eyes on the realities of pregnancy in America. After all, it has been twenty years since I had my last child, so things have definitely changed!
My proclivity these days is to focus on vulnerable communities when it comes to maternal health and mortality and yet there are so many women who have to deal with pregnancy complications and care, health issues, and disparities, as well as fertility options and disappointments when it comes to carrying a baby full-term. The most important thing for all of us to remember is that women the world over have personal struggles with pregnancy. Those experiences are certainly different from one country to the next, and most certainly from one woman to the next. They all are valid for those who are carrying a baby or are desperately trying to.
9 Months With Courteney Coxhas honestly shone a brilliant light on pregnancy in the United States in its docuseries from a mother who found out she was pregnant and had cancer at the same time, to a couple who have tried for years to get pregnant, only to miscarry time and time again, to a mother who couldn’t imagine ever delivering a ninth child to add to her already eight children. These are just a few of the couples’ experiences of the ten that are laid bare in this riveting Facebook Watch show.
Want to watch? Start on episode one and enjoy. I will admit, I wish the episodes were longer because I really want to know what happens, but they are timed perfectly for busy people. Each episode is about 15 minutes.
Maternal mortality continues to be a major problem the world over. The United States is the only developed country where maternal death rates are increasing especially for non-Hispanic black women. And in low-and-middle income countries, approximately 830 women die each day from pregnancy-related, preventable causes.
Maternal health organizations are working diligently to save more mothers’ lives, but one death is still too many especially when it is likely preventable. I like to list organizations that you can support with donations in order to help them keep more women and their children alive on the local level and make sure mothers are a part of their families’ lives.
This list highlights local organizations that help some of the most vulnerable communities in countries with some of the highest maternal mortality rates. And, in the cases of the United States and Australia, the organizations help the communities that experience the most maternal deaths. Each site allows direct donations that go directly to maternal care and/or advocacy.
Q&A with NACCHO Board Member Sandra Elizabeth Ford, MD, MPH
Director of the DeKalb County Board of Health
A baby is born with a birth defect in the United States every 4.5 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Birth defects are defined as any structural changes present at birth that affect how the body looks, works, or both, and they can vary from mild to severe. While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are concrete steps pregnant mothers can take to increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby. In honor of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the CDC released a resource guide providing pregnant moms tips for preventing birth defects.
Experts explained that the U.S. resistance, although extreme, was nothing new. The United States previously demonstrated its allegiance to the formula industry by refusing to sign on to the World Health Organization’s Ban on the Marketing of Breast Milk Alternatives.
This U.S. stance, like its intimidation of Ecuador, flew in the face of near universally accepted medical and scientific research proving that breastfeeding saves lives. Perhaps even more surprisingly, both acts perpetuate an alarming racial divide in breastfeeding rates that leads to significant racial health disparities. American support of the formula industry comes at the cost of the health and lives of Black and brown babies, at home and abroad.
Both the resolution and the U.S. opposition to it stemmed from a decline in formula sales in the United States. The industry has sought to make up for its considerable domestic losses on the global market. The racial aspects of this local-global dynamic are hidden in plain sight.