August 02, 2021
Series: Why I Advocate - Sujata Gami
By: Sujata Gami | 0 Comments
A new post in our weekly series leading up to the Lamaze International 2021 Virtual Advocacy Summit on September 27-29. 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.
I have been teaching perinatal classes since 1996 and have taught in India, Canada, Thailand, and United States. Over the years, I have learned and grown both as a Lamaze Educator, as well as an advocate for maternal health. I have developed patient-education perinatal curriculums for hospitals, planned and implemented trainings for L & D nurses on labor support skills, implemented a hospital -based doula program, and trained, mentored colleagues to teach evidence-based Lamaze childbirth education classes.
I see myself as a link of the strong, resilient chain that has been formed by pioneers like Elizabeth Bing in the 1960s and the Lamaze birth advocate fraternity that works tirelessly to raise awareness for respectful maternity care for families as narrated in the Lamaze video “50 Years of Childbirth Education.”
I relate to Barbara Hotelling’s comment:
“There is a phenomenal history of where we have been and where we need to go."
The impact of systemic racism, healthcare, and maternal care inequities, lack of support, gaps between evidence based guidelines and care practices, and a diminished sense of agency experienced by expectant families during pregnancy and early parenting has long-lasting detrimental effects, which leads to poor health outcomes. The 2020 The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve Maternal Health discusses the current state, strategies and action to improve maternity care outcomes. Variations in hospital-care practices based on state, urban, or rural settings is disturbing and consequential. The Tale of Two Birth in California Infographics uses data analytics to portray the startling picture of maternal inequities based on hospital, read more here.
Amid such challenges, I hold myself accountable to do my part as a patient education program lead at a hospital in Northern California, and as a Lamaze educator. I am focusing on the wins of having gained momentum in advocating for families by focusing on having ongoing conversations and building strong collaborations with the ObGyn. and midwifery partners. By engaging and participating in a multi-disciplinary team approach, I am a steady voice in helping to bridge the gap between care practices by focusing on patient education and respectful care.
While teaching patient education classes, my goal is to help build skills of self-advocacy and empower pregnant families by engaging in brainstorming on how to make informed decision making as a life-skill. For me, as a maternal-health advocate, it is also imperative to understand what other birth professionals in the scientific community are doing and collaborate with them to build stronger advocacy voices. I find hope and strength when I learn about the amazing work other birth-advocate bodies are doing. My advocacy work involves sourcing resources that are evidence based, are current and relevant to families.
The Welcome to My Birth Matters! website build in partnership with California Maternity Quality Collaborative Care (CMQCC) and California Health Care Foundation (CHF) to help pregnant women and birthing people of all backgrounds learn more about their birthing options is a solid example of how building stronger networks can create a presence and impact maternity health care.
The motivation of advocating for maternal health comes from the movement that was started 50 years ago, the flame continues to burn by the voices, works, endeavors, collaborations, consolidations and alliances amongst birth professionals, the community, families, and the fruit of labor is witnessed by change, one woman, one person, one family at a time.
About Sujata Gami
Sujata has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition, is LCCE, and a Lamaze Program trainer with the DCBirthDoulas Program. Her mantra is “keep learning, keep growing” which she leans onto along with the over 20 years of teaching experience in United States, Canada, Thailand and India. She is currently leading the Perinatal Patient Education Program at the Kaiser Permanente, North Valley Service Area and loves organizing, creating curriculums, mentoring and supporting colleagues to teach evidence based perinatal classes. She has conceptualized, planned and taught non-pharmacological labor support skills training series for L&D nurses using the CMQCC Toolkit to reduce NTSV cesarean rates at hospitals. She has been a conference speaker at Lamaze International, ICEA, DONA International and SC-NC Perinatal Conferences. She is a member of the Lamaze Advocacy and Collaboration Committee and envisions learning new skills to stretch and expand her perinatal educator’s journey into building partnerships with strategic task forces to engage in priorities for patient centered health.
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