April 13, 2021
Lamaze International Celebrates Black Maternal Health Week and Childbirth Education’s Role in the 2021 Momnibus
By: Molly Giammarco, MPP | 0 Comments
As Lamaze joins stakeholders, advocates, and policymakers in celebrating Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17, 2021), Lamaze educators, advocates, and parents can reflect on the progress made on raising awareness of maternal health disparities—and the actions taken to address them. With the Congressional Black Maternal Health Caucus’ (BMHC) and other policymakers’ leadership, vision, and collaboration, federal efforts to reduce maternal health disparities and shortfalls are no longer just talking points. They are now Congressional actions.
Lamaze is pleased to be a part of the growing momentum toward developing thoughtful policy and initiatives that understand and address maternal morbidity and mortality disparities. Among the maternal-health bills within the 117th Congress is the Momnibus, a historic legislative package that the BMHC introduced in February 2021. The Momnibus consists of 12 bills that seek to improve U.S. maternal and childbirth outcomes and reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates that disproportionately affect Black parents.
The Momnibus takes a big-picture approach to maternal health and acknowledges the intrinsic and unique roles that various entities play within the pregnancy journey. Through its ongoing support of, and partnership with, the BMHC, Lamaze helped incorporate “evidence-based childbirth education” and “childbirth educators” into several of the 2021 Momnibus bills. This inclusion is an exciting result of Lamaze advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, as well as with stakeholder groups and advocates.
The Momnibus bills that explicitly include evidence-based childbirth education and childbirth educators include:
- The Perinatal Workforce Act
- This bill would increase and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that all people can access culturally congruent maternal care and support.
- The 2021 version of this bill’s perinatal health workforce definition includes “childbirth educator” – a result of Lamaze advocacy efforts.
- The bill would create a grant program to grow and diversify the perinatal workforce.
- Within two years of enactment, the bill would instruct the U.S. Comptroller General to report to Congress on the barriers to maternal health education.
- The Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act
- This bill would invest in programs to support pregnant people in jails and prisons by establishing partnerships to provide programs and services for people who are pregnant and postpartum.
- Such programing and services would include providing access to perinatal health workers from pregnancy through the postpartum period and providing evidence-based pregnancy and childbirth education, parenting support, and other relevant forms of health literacy.
- The bill would instruct the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to consult with perinatal workers and organizations representing maternity-care practitioners and maternal healthcare education programs to develop programs that optimize outcomes for incarcerated pregnant and postpartum people.
- The Data to Save Moms Act
- This bill would improve data-collection processes and quality measures to understand maternal health crisis causes and develop solutions to address it.
- The bill would instruct the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to consult with membership organizations for maternity care providers and organizations representing perinatal health workers to help standardize maternal-health data collection and develop metrics to track progress in improving maternal health outcomes.
- The Kira Johnson Act
- This bill would help fund community-based organizations that help promote culturally congruent maternal healthcare.
- The bill would promote evidence-based health literacy and pregnancy/childbirth/parenting education for pregnant and postpartum people.
- The Moms Matter Act
- This bill would support and provide maternal mental-healthcare and substance-use disorder treatments.
- The bill would offer evidence-based programs at freestanding birth centers that provide maternal mental and behavioral health care education, treatments, and services, and other services for people throughout the prenatal and postpartum period.
As discussions, partnerships, and awareness continue to increase, so too will effective policy initiatives that acknowledge that maternal-health outcomes and disparities often stem from other underlying factors. The 116th Congress (2019-2020) saw a record-breaking number of maternal-health bills that address these maternal-health shortfalls. The 117th Congress (2021-2022) is already on a trajectory to break this record with bold and focused legislation that address the root causes of disparities and concerning statistics.
The Momnibus of the 117th Congress is a groundbreaking package that tackles, and provides solutions to, persisting maternal-health disparities that in many cases, are only growing worse. The legislative package is ambitious, comprehensive, and powerful—not just because of what it strives to accomplish, but also because of its recognition of all the different entities and services that play critical roles within the pregnancy journey.
Join Lamaze in celebrating 2021 Black Maternal Health Week by sharing stories, commemorating partnerships, and voicing hopes for the future. #BMHW21
About Molly Giammarco
Molly Giammarco has consulted for professional healthcare associations for more than eight years. As Lamaze International’s Senior Manager for Policy & Government Relations, Molly monitors legislation regulations related to maternal and child health, as well as advises the Lamaze Advocacy + Collaboration Committee.
Molly received her undergraduate degree from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and her master’s degree in public policy from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She currently lives in Washington, D.C.
TagsChildbirth education Advocacy Black Maternal Health Week Maternal mortality Molly Giammarco Advocacy & Collaboration Committee Momnibus