According to the CDC, 1 in every 10 births were born prematurely in the United States. This means that 9.8% is the preterm birth rate in the United States. In addition to this, African Americans have the highest infant mortality rate of any racial population. Childbirth is a blessing and should not be the cause for concern. How do we change these statistics?
We must first begin with open communication and preventive care. The lack of open communication could be the deciding factor in receiving preventive care for your future child. “There are physiological and environmental factors that can contribute to preterm birth. Many situations may cause preterm labor in some moms and have no effect on others,” explains maternal health RN, Aneesha Smith.
Nurse Aneesha says that the following 5 tips can help mothers reduce the risk for preterm labor:
- Smoking/drug use cessation;
- Alcohol cessation;
- Decrease in stress in mom’s environmental surroundings and relationships (work/life balance);
- Prevent direct trauma to abdomen; and
- Regular prenatal care is vital to catching any medical issues that could contribute to preterm labor risk.
To make further advancements it’s necessary for the parents and healthcare team to have a supportive health plan. “The primary goal in most premature labor and delivery situations is to keep the fetus in utero as long as safely possible. When that is no longer a possibility, understanding the need for nurturing and contact when possible from the parents to the preterm newborn should be a part of every family’s care plan,” continues Aneesha. “Caregiver and community support for breastfeeding and pumping should also be a part of the plan,” explains Aneesha.
In addition to preterm births, we know that African American mothers are also losing their lives during childbirth. According to American Progress, African American women from all spectrums and socio-economic statuses are dying from preventable pregnancy related complications at 3 to 4 times the rate of Non-Hispanic white women. It’s time to set the standard to prioritize maternal health needs to lower risks and fatalities. There are many ideas that people may have to improve these statistics but some of the major changes to the narrative must start here:
- Don’t ignore any symptom. Regardless of how small or large, inform your doctor. Ignoring the symptom could delay preventive measures.
- Maintain your routine prenatal appointments. Even if you’re getting good reports and let life get in the way, maintain your regular appointment scheduling.
- Embrace your mental wellness. If you haven’t already, begin routine self-care through journaling, therapy, yoga or etc to learn coping skills, cool down methods and more before you bring a new life into the world.
- Call on your village. Utilize your community support and familiar team to accept assistance with prenatal and parenting responsibilities.
- Encourage other pregnant women and new moms. Share your story to help others. Offer to assist a pregnant mom in need with getting to her routine appointments. Each one, teach one.
Let’s empower one another to break generational ties and healthcare disparities. The art of bringing new life into the world is a gift that we should all be able to successfully unwrap. Connect with these organizations to learn more: www.marchofdimes.org, www.unicef.org, www.nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org, and www.nationaladvocatesforpregnantwomen.org. Connect with nurse Aneesha Smith at www.rbzexpressions.com.
Writer, C. Scott, is a mother of one; author, social worker, early literacy interventionist and entrepreneur. Follow her on Instagram as @curls_coils and @mysweettealife.