Pregnancy is an exciting time for most women, but for some Black mothers-to-be, pregnancy evokes fear. According to a study by the University of Maryland, Black women are 2.5 times more likely to die during childbirth compared to white women. To the contrary, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. So why are Black women more at risk?
“There is no genetic or health concern causing increased death in this community. Really – it is systemic racism,” explains Nicole Cooper, RN, BSN.
April 11 – 17 is Black Maternal Health Week. Founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, this week is a week of awareness, activism and community building to deepen the national conversation about Black maternal health in the U.S.
Family First Health (FFH) is committed to lowering the pregnancy-related death rate and has developed two programs to support moms.
For 20 years, the Nurse-Family Partnership program has connected first-time mothers with registered nurses for support, advice and information throughout their pregnancy to develop the confidence and skills they need to be successful parents.
Cooper, a nurse with FFH’s Nurse-Family Partnership, says pregnancy encourages many women to live healthier lives, but many do not know where to begin.
“We know healthy moms raise healthy children and that makes a healthy community,” says Cooper. “By linking moms to care, helping to tear down barriers to care and connecting them with resources, we are encouraging a healthy country.”
The Nurse-Family Partnership is open for enrollment to first time mothers during pregnancy, making nurses available for the baby’s first two years of the child’s life. In addition to supporting obstetrics appointments, the Nurse-Family Partnership team will advocate for necessary testing to address the high rate of preventable disease and chronic health issues Black women often experience as well as assisting them to have their voices heard when it comes to their medical care.
FFH also supports expectant mothers in at-risk communities through Connections for a Healthy Pregnancy, where they are paired with a Community Health Worker. Participants who are experiencing a pregnancy other than their first, , living in York or Adams Counties, can contact Connections and receive support through the first three months of parenthood, or longer, if needed.
“We assess enrollees to make sure moms have access to the resources they need,” says Casey Fogle, Program Manager for FFH’s Connections for a Healthy Pregnancy Program. “After receiving a referral, we reach out to the mom within 48 hours to help the moms adopt healthy behaviors.”
Virtual event shines light on maternal children health concerns
As part of our commitment to maternal health, FFH is partnering with the York County Maternal Health Community Advisory Board for the virtual York Maternal Child Health Event. Join us April 29 for a Facebook Live and Youtube event addressing disparities in maternal and child health and offering education to improve the well-being of mothers, infants and children. Besides the educational components of the program, there will be giveaways during the event for those who tune in to watch.
This event is an opportunity to raise awareness and highlight community resources available to mothers and their families to ensure a better healthcare experience. As a voice for expectant mothers, FFH’s team of nurses and community healthcare workers advocates for high-quality prenatal and postnatal care for all families regardless of race.