October 10, 2019
One Thing You Can Do Right Now to Improve Maternal-Infant Health
By: Cara Terreri | 2 Comments
The United States has a problem with expectant and new parents dying. A big problem. We are one of only two countries where the rate of maternal death is going up instead of down. The United States is ranked 55th in the world for maternal mortality, despite being #1 in the world for the amount of money being spent. And what's worse: African American parents are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth than non-Hispanic white women. It is estimated that 60 percent of maternal deaths are entirely preventable.
This is not ok.
There are many theories behind why this is happening as well as a handful of proposed solutions being suggested and tried out to address this huge problem. As individuals, it feels overwhelming and helpless to hear the statistics, and gut-wrenching when you read individual stories of families who have experienced unnecessary death. It's easy to think you have no power as "just one person" to help this massive problem. But there is strength in the power of one. One of the simplest ways you can bring about change in the maternal death rate is by contacting your representatives and asking them to help make a difference. Ask your representatives to support the Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness Act (MOMMA's Act) (S.916/H.R. 1897).
The MOMMA's Act is a piece of legislation, introduced last year and gaining momentum, that promises to provide support for and create initiatives to reduce the maternal death rate. You can read the full text of the act here. In summary, if the act becomes a bill, it will:
- Provide technical assistance to states in order to report comprehensive data on maternal mortality, including oral, mental, and breastfeeding health information.
- Supply hospitals and organizations with best practices information on how to prevent maternal deaths.
- Provide funding for state programs to improve pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care and outcomes in every state.
- Expand Medicaid and CHIP coverage for pregnant and postpartum people.
- Create regional centers of excellence to educate health care professionals on implicit bias and delivering culturally competent health care.
- Update the special supplemental nutrition program for parents, infants, and children (WIC) to include breastfeeding/chestfeeding and postpartum parents and to extend it for two years instead of one.
To contact your state representatives, you can use the simple tool from the United States Breastfeeding Committee. The tool identifies your state's members of the House and Senate and generates a standard letter asking them to support MOMMA's Act that you can send directly from the web page, along with space for your own comments.
Don't estimate your power as "just one person" -- often, it's little actions that lead to big change. Take five minutes to help impact the future health of parents, and babies!
TagsCara Terreri Advocacy Maternal mortality MOMMA's Act USA