One perceptive I have been interested in for reducing infant mortality is acknowledging and valuing human beings. I am fascinated with the video called “Unnatural Causes”. See link here. http://www.pbs.org/unnaturalcauses/hour_02.htm
I have been doing birth work for over 20 years in underserved southern communities in the US. Oppressed populations represent a higher infant mortality rate. In South Carolina, being an African American baby means you are twice as high than white babies to die in the first year of life. This video provides the framework to explore how chronic racism and stress is a factor and link to infant mortality.
The BirthMatters program I founded trains women from low-income neighborhoods to become community-based doulas – health workers who provide emotional and educational support to young mothers and their infant children. BirthMatters follows the mother during pregnancy (starting before 28 weeks gestation), provides continuous support during the birth process, and continues care during the first six months of each infant’s life.
BirthMatters has a unique opportunity to improve birth outcomes for vulnerable women from disadvantaged neighborhoods by modeling emotional support. We remove transportation barriers: we come to the families. BirthMatters’ doulas provide one-on-one, home-based education to each mother. Services include culturally sensitive pregnancy and childbirth education; early linkage to health care and social services; labor support; breastfeeding education; and parenting skills including attachment and bonding.
BirthMatters reduces disparities in birth outcomes for low-income mothers in Spartanburg by providing high quality educational and emotional support to young pregnant mothers before, during and after birth. The power of the community-based doula program lies in the ability of the doulas to develop mutual, trusting, and nurturing relationships with the women and their families they serve. BirthMatters focuses on providing extensive doula support during the critical months of pregnancy, birth, and the early months of parenting when interventions can most affect outcomes and create long-term linkages to support networks for each stages of infancy and parenting.
BirthMatters has a multi-layered approach, focused on the health and well-being of our community. Each doula provides the following one-on-one services to each young mother and their family.
My favorite quote from Brene Brown is “connection is the energy that exist between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship. Our program provides this connection along with authentic love and support. Some of the moms we serve have never been given the safe space to share their raw emotions from life’s experiences. We know empowerment takes place, when people acknowledge fears instead of denying them.