On March 8, 2018, in honor of International Women’s Day, Thursday, the National Perinatal Taskforce (NPTF), in collaboration with Commonsense Childbirth and Mama Sana Vibrant Woman (MSVW), released a new report entitled “The National Perinatal Taskforce: Building a Movement to Birth a More Just and Loving World.” The report is available on the NPTF website.
The United States is currently experiencing what some might call a maternal and infant health care crisis:
- Despite high levels of health care spending outpacing other developed nations, the high maternal and infant mortality rates in the United States have garnered international attention.
- Black women are three to four times more likely to die from birth related complications than their white counterparts.
- Hispanic women face significant barriers accessing prenatal care as well as culturally and linguistically appropriate care services.
This report highlights the grave and racialized maternal and infant disparities in the United States and offers a framework to address not only root causes but also individual, community, and systems level responses.
“We must closely examine the contributing factors in our society that continue to fail pregnant individuals to the extent that these conditions repeatedly result in the loss of a life,” maintains report co-author and researcher Haile Eshe Cole. “Understanding the social determinants of health is only a part of beginning to address the root causes of the issue,” states co-author and midwife Paula X. Rojas. “Systemic inequalities have deep historical roots that have profound and longstanding impacts on communities of color, in particular.”
The report identifies four primary areas of need including:
- Models that provide community-located and culturally-based healthcare resources,
- Increased social and community support as a means to mitigate the impacts of racism, stress, and other determinants that affect an individual’s social conditions and, ultimately, health outcomes,
- Models that promote self-determination and agency,
- Movement building efforts that shift cultural and social conditions.
It also offers two distinct models: the JJ WayⓇ developed by Florida-based midwife Jennie Joseph and the Maternal Justice Model (MJM) developed by community organizer and midwife Paula X. Rojas. Both models have been shown to be effective in eliminating maternal and infant health disparities and organizing to implement policy and systemic changes to address the social determinants of health and improve the material conditions that contribute to the drastic health inequities across the nation.
Finally, the report provides a number of key recommendations for health providers and practitioners, health care agencies and institutions, and community workers.
Jennie Joseph, co-author, midwife, and creator of the JJ WayⓇ asserts that “It is important for all to work hard to create a just and loving world where every woman thrives, every baby reaches full term, and communities have the resources needed to care for their families.” A 2007 evaluative study conducted by the Health Council of East Central Florida found that overall, preterm birth rates for women participating in the JJ WayⓇ model were significantly lower than preterm birth rates for the county and the state of Florida. When broken down by race, the study found that Black and Hispanic women in the clinic had 0% preterm births.
View the full copy of the report here.
Commonsense Childbirth was founded in 1998 by Jennie Joseph who has dedicated her life to helping women and families have better birth experiences. Our Vision: We believe that all women deserve a healthy pregnancy, birth and baby! Our Mission: To inspire change in maternal child health care systems worldwide; to re-empower the birthing mother, father, family and community by supporting the providers, practitioners and agencies that are charged with their care. http://www.commonsensechildbirth.org
National Perinatal Taskforce (NPTF) is a virtual community of people who have a heart for women and children. People who have heard the statistics, understand that the system is broken and want to make a practical difference in the health outcomes for mothers and babies. The NPTF is a grassroots movement to start and grow Perinatal Safe Spots (PSS) in every Materno-toxic Area. It’s a place to share ideas – what’s working and what’s not. http://perinataltaskforce.com
Mama Sana Vibrant Woman (MSVW) is a community organization that works to facilitate access to culturally appropriate and quality, prenatal and postnatal care for women of color in Austin and Travis County. Our Mission: To improve pregnancy and birth outcomes for communities of color in central Texas by providing education and support. Our Vision: A just and loving world where all mothers receive attentive quality loving care and where all communities have equitable resources to care for their children. https://www.msvwatx.org
Related coverage on the topic:
Serena Williams and the realities of the ‘maternal mortality crisis’
U.S. Has The Worst Rate Of Maternal Deaths In The Developed World
Black Mothers Keep Dying After Giving Birth. Shalon Irving’s Story Explains Why
Childbirth is killing black women in the US, and here’s why.
READ: How Racism Makes Pregnancy Dangerous for Black Women