Infant Mortality and Nursing in Public
OK, I’m not making a claim that nursing in public protects against infant mortality (but hey, it’s certainly plausible, on the public health level at least.) No, I’m writing about these two topics today because I’m hoping you’ll go read my two guest posts, hosted on two of my favorite blogs.
Over on Giving Birth With Confidence, I wrote a post called, From the Bedroom to the Board Room: How I learned to nurse in public. It’s about the fact that early in my mothering, I actually breastfed at the board room table while presenting a report to Lamaze’s Board of Directors. And it totally shaped my perception on breastfeeding, my body, and family-friendly policies:
I look back on this time now and I realize how fortunate I was. My earliest experiences of opening my baby’s and my universe to others reinforced that nursing is normal, joyful, and important. In a way, it was totally unremarkable to nurse my baby while addressing my supervisor and her Board of Directors. But at the same time, it was something to be celebrated. The people at the table weren’t weirded out that I was breastfeeding. They loved it – reveled in it. We even talked about how it is important to have babies at our conferences. Our work affects them!
I also have a new post up at RH Reality Check about disparities in infant mortality. I challenge birth advocates to get behind prenatal care models that are effective and proven to reduce preterm birth and close the gap between blacks and whites. I discuss my own experiences with incredible prenatal care from my home birth midwives, and come to the chilling conclusion:
THIS is how prenatal care should be. Right? Well, not necessarily. Unless and until there is a major upheaval in healthcare financing and staffing patterns, having this kind of prenatal care is a privilege. And I don’t mean privilege like “I’m so lucky.” I mean privilege in the sense that I can’t have that kind of care unless others are deprived of it.
If everyone woke up tomorrow and realized that they deserved to have every question answered, every fear and concern explored, every test/procedure/diagnosis explained, we would quickly run out of midwives to provide that care. That is, if our solution was to provide one-to-one care on the traditional prenatal schedule. In short, that kind of prenatal care, however great it is, is not scalable to levels that could benefit all women and babies.
I also discuss CenteringPregnancy, an evidence-based, relationship-centered model of group prenatal care that has shown to reduce preterm birth rates, especially among African American mothers.
I wrote that post as part of Courtroom Mama’s blog carnival at The Unnecesarean. Check out the link to read through the other important posts.
And for those of you who are interested in learning more about infant mortality and disparities in perinatal care, here are a couple of great resources.
This widget from Kids Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, let’s you see data for any U.S. state or territory on different indicators including the infant mortality rate, child poverty rate, and teen pregnancy rate.
And here’s a fantastic recent documentary on disparities in infant mortality in Tennessee, one of the states with the highest infant mortality rates, and where funding to address the problem was recently on the chopping block. (Mercifully, the programs seem to have been spared in budget cuts.)