Pregnancy & Childbirth
The United States is one of few industrialized countries where maternal death rates are rising. Rates of maternal mortality in the United States are also higher among certain groups than others, including Black women, who are three to four times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than white women. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable.
Cynthia A. Pearson, the NWHN’s Executive Director, is quoted in a USA Today article that discusses a new bill that seeks to address maternal mortality. Pearson emphasizes that efforts to reduce maternal mortality rates must take into account racial disparities as opposed to solely focusing on factors such as the age and/or weight on mothers.
Through our Raising Women’s Voices campaign, the NWHN provides sub-grants to state and local grassroots organizations working on Black maternal health and well-being. In this article, Kalena Murphy, the NWHN’s Senior State Advocacy Manager, writes about our recent RWV work, including our support of state advocates in Texas.
Sarah Christopherson, the NWHN’s Policy Advocacy Director, writes about her experience in a “Baby Friendly” hospital, which starved her daughter in rigid pursuit of breastfeeding directives that can do more harm than good.
It’s possible to become pregnant very soon after having a baby, so it’s important to think ahead about a postpartum birth control plan. The postpartum birth control method chosen will depend on multiple factors, including whether an individual seeks to have another child in the future, and plans to breastfeed.
In this testimony, the NWHN encourages the FDA to withdraw approval of 17-hydroxyprogesterone capronate (17P, brand name Makena), a drug intended to reduce the risk of preterm birth that has not proven to be effective or to prevent serious complications in newborns in follow up studies.
Often, the medical community places pressure on mothers to exclusively breastfeed their infants. There is no shame in delayed milk production, nor is there shame in facing challenges with breastfeeding. Supplementing with formula is a safe and often necessary method of feeding babies.
Since You Asked: What is the role of a doula? How can pregnancy and birth experiences be shaped by the profession?
Doulas provide emotional support and coaching to women and their families, most often during and after childbirth. They also serve as much-needed advocates to optimize the health of both mothers and infants. In this Since You Asked column, we discuss the ways that doula care can improve maternal health and reduce racial disparities in birth outcomes.
Doulas believe that providing non-judgmental emotional support, resources, and education can empower pregnant people to have not only a positive birth or abortion experience, but also become advocates for their own reproductive health for the rest of their lives.
Doctors have clear incentives to recommend caesareans: the procedure may increase physician’s reimbursement, takes a predictable amount of time and can be conveniently scheduled, is relatively simple and safe, and carries a lower liability risk. However, there is no question that the first and foremost priority should be the physical and emotional well being of birthing parents and infants. For some parents that may mean having a second C-section, for others, it may mean a vaginal birth after c-section, or VBAC.