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Sunday
Jul042010

A Carnival for Your Fourth of July

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by Courtroom Mama

 

Wow, y’all.

I asked, and I received. Thank you all so very much for your insightful posts about the crisis of black infant mortality and Tonya Lewis Lee’s “Crisis in the Crib.”

First, I want to unveil my favorite:

A Crisis in the Crib (The Juggling Matriarch). Alisa uses the Reproductive Justice framework to connect the dots between her work as a pre/postnatal fitness specialist and childbirth educator and background as a historian specializing in the legacies of slavery and segregation in modern United States.  

These statistics are sobering on many levels, but not least of all when we think about the deep injustice of allowing the children of women who quite literally gave birth to the nation to die untimely deaths.  If not for black women’s reproductive labour, the United States as we know it today would not exist. 

Another must-read that I want to give honorable mention:

crisis in the crib (Outlaw Midwife). Mai’a gives us an amazingly comprehensive look at black maternal and infant health, providing links to the many other posts she’s written on the issue (which you should all read!). Mai’a gives an incisive critique of the idea, implicit in the title “A Healthy Baby Begins with You,” that the responsibility for societal problems should be borne by individuals. Instead of laying the blame at the feet of the bereft mothers, telling them to eat more fruits and veggies, we need to make much bigger changes. She also points out one extremely disturbing theory as to why we’re seeing such lasting effects of institutionalized racial subordination:

and i am concerned about how racism functions as a form of systemic abuse of marginalized mamas and how that seeps into the bodies of their babies.   i cant help but wonder, looking at the incredible impact that racism has on human bodies, does racism affect the dna of babies similarly to the ways that childhood emotional and psychological assault may do so?

And now, grab a funnel cake and enjoy the rest of the carnival. Happy Independence Day!

Better off in a Third World Country (Caffeinated Catholic Mama). In Karianna’s home state of Wisonsin, the 2004 infant mortality rate for African American babies was 19.2 deaths per 1,000. She looks at factors including breastfeeding rates and access to healthy foods and medical care in black neighborhoods and asks whether we’re doing a lot more talking than doing.

Is Better Prenatal Care the Key to Closing the Infant Mortality Gap in America? (Amy Romano, writing at RH Reality Check). Bringing us the provider perspective, Amy focuses on an innovation in maternity care than can help meet the unmet healthcare needs that contribute to the shocking health disparities explored in the movie: CenteringPregnancy.

Crisis in the Crib – Black Infant Mortality in the US (Bloody Show). k. emvee gives us the practitioner perspective, discusses the silence around health disparities even among midwifery circles, and makes several commitments to ways that she can use her hands and her practice to help close the gap. She also calls attention to the issue of Vitamin D deficiency which, while it is certainly not an answer nor a substitute for addressing systemic racism, is something that affects women of color precisely because of their race.

A long overdue Weekend Movie: Crisis in the Crib (Dou-la-la). Watching the film gave Anne a moment to explore not only her biases as a doula and aspiring midwife, but also her privilege and how it has influenced her participation, or lack thereof, in the conversation.

The Crisis in the Crib—A Call to Action (A Mother’s Worth). Laskisa went through a process that seemed similar to my own, getting so immersed in the details (home vs. hospital, water birth, etc.) that she lost sight of the fact that we need to start with keeping black babies alive.

A Healthy Baby Begins with You… (The Making of a Nurse Midwife). Speaking from the provider perspective, Rose discusses the importance of preconception health and emphasizes action over theorizing.

“A Crisis in the Crib” Carnival: How can we save the lives of black babies? (Blacktating). Elita reminds us of one of the facts that is sometimes forgotten in conversations about infant mortality: that even controlling for socioeconomics, the greatest determining factor of whether or not their babies will die in the first year of life is their race. She focuses in on her specialty to point out something missing from the film: breastfeeding.

How Midwifery Care Can Reduce Racial Disparities In Birth Outcomes (Birth Unplugged). Brittany highlights the work of one of my favorite midwives, Jennie Joseph, and how she has worked to close the gap with respectful midwifery care. She takes a closer look at the midwifery model of care, and discusses the individual components that she believes are more helpful to women of color than the obstetrical model.

Caring, Saying, and Doing More about the Crisis in the Crib (Birthing Beautiful Ideas). Kristen acknowledged the ways in which her critique of the U.S. maternity system has focused on institutional sexism but ignored the institutional racism.

Samantha left us a comment response, discussing the protective effect of community and how she feels it has been undermined by changes in society.

 

Did I miss your post? Miss the deadline but still want to participate? Link to your post in the comments, we need to continue the conversation!

 

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Reader Comments (4)

Thanks for this! Wish I wasn't so hectic, or I would have participated. I am looking forward to reading these excellent contributions.

July 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMomTFH

Some very insightful writing here. Great job, ladies! Thanks for the encouragement and the motivation to get back to what really matters.

July 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLakisa

Thanks so much! I am completing a birth educator certification and I serve on my community's fetal-infant mortality reduction initiative. I know instinctively that caring about birth empowerment goes hand-in-hand with caring about and addressing the complex web of issues contributing to fetal and infant loss but it can be hard to articulate. These blog entries are helpful.

It would be great to see all of us birth activists find our respective community groups/alliances/networks that are already in action trying to prevent avoidable losses. When I attend my local community initiative, I am the only unpaid community person there. Other participants represent government and non-profit agencies and hospitals which is great but citizen participation is also necessary. Birth educators/activists have unique perspectives to offer and I think they can make a difference.

http://motherbabynetwork.wordpress.com/

July 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatharine Gallagher

Remember, the campaign is called: A Healthy Baby Begins with You. That doesn't mean it ends with you, and that's why the campaign has taken on a much broader approach. Nothing changes the fact that the mother and father's healthy or unhealthy contributions to the conception of the baby, and then to the nine months of pregnancy are key and we should make every effort to improve the individuals' health. That doesn't mean the individual's health is not a compendium of a combination of factors that are not just about making the right "eat fruits and vegetables and exercise" choice. That's why we emphasize health disparities and social determinants of health. But it goes both ways, without the personal responsibility, we wouldn't be able to demand the societal changes needed.

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