July 26, 2021
Series: Why I Advocate - Jill Wodnick
By: Jill Wodnick | 0 Comments
The Connecting the Dots weekly series leading up to the Lamaze International 2021 Virtual Advocacy Summit on September 27-29 continues today with an essay from Jill Wodnick. The virtual summit is an opportunity to connect with your fellow Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators from around the world, who will be meeting to address the most critical and timely policy issues that affect prenatal care and childbirth outcomes. In this series, blog readers will have an opportunity to meet perinatal professionals and read their personal essays on why they advocate for evidence based care, improved policies and funding that impact birth outcomes. You can find the entire "Why I Advocate" Series here. - Sharon Muza, Connecting the Dots Community Manager.
“Hope is never silent” declared activist Harvey Milk. It is withholding hope for respectful, equitable, and high quality maternity care that I choose to be involved with Lamaze International. Being a Lamaze childbirth educator and member centers my hope to a plurality of voices necessary to transform a very fragmented system of maternity care.
In my own state of New Jersey, there has been both a legislative push for more than 18 maternal-infant health bills passed in the last three years, as well as a policy vision “NurtureNJ.” The NurtureNJ Strategic Plan is designed to make transformational change in a system that has historically failed our mothers and babies—especially our mothers and babies of color.
Accordingly, the plan requires all sectors—health, education, housing, business, government, justice, and more—to play an integral role in its realization. Ultimately, the success of this plan relies on the partnership and collaboration of all stakeholders to put proposals into action that both improve the quality of, and save, lives.
Even with this strong document and legislative changes, New Jersey has the same issues that we face as a country in maternal health: racism; navigating the over-medicalization of birth; accessing high-quality maternity care, and the impact of birth on breastfeeding. What happens through a childbirth workshop is the ability for relationship-based support, the visibility of evidence and options, and the centering of respectful, high-quality maternity care.
We need advocacy to get funding, infrastructure, and transformation. From the federal Momnibus which incorporates scaling up midwifery education and a pipeline of racial and cultural diversity in workforce to environmental justice. Other exciting pieces of federal legislation include the B.A.B.I.E.S. Act, the PUMP Act, which bring forth congressional briefings and opportunities for awareness, visibility, and change.
Lamaze is centered in safe and healthy birth practices, which helps this transformation. Too often, maternity care is characterized as “too much too soon or too little too late.” Advocacy for funding, policy, and systems change can re center this paradigm. Whether you chose to get involved in zip code-specific community health needs assessments or with federal mobilization, your voice will lead by example.
For me, advocacy can hold interdependence and community care.
I am re-reading the book Emergent Strategies by Adrienne Marie Brown. The Emergent Strategy framework is a model of mobilizing that is practical and generative. Brown writes:
Nature has taught me about fluid adaptability. About not only weathering storms, but using howling winds to spread seeds wide, torrential rains to nurture roots so they can grow deeper and stronger. Nature has taught me that a storm can be used to clear out branches that are dying, to let go of that which was keeping us from growing in new directions. These are lessons we need for organizing
We can, in Brown’s words, “…intentionally change how we live in ways that grow our capacity to embody the just and liberated worlds we long for.” Holding that hope, I listen, learn, and speak.
About Jill Wodnick
Jill Wodnick is a Lamaze childbirth educator working at Montclair State University on improving maternity care. She is the mother of three teenagers and has advocated for respectful, equitable maternity care for close to twenty years. On the state level, she has worked with the Office of the First Lady’s NurtureNJ Project, the New Jersey Perinatal Quality Collaborative, as well as testifying and giving testimony on legislation and maternal health hearings. At MSU, she works closely with Title V projects to center the voices of women and families in developing policy proposals. She is also an avid hiker and focuses on environmental justice and ecological sustainability.
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