The answer to the disparity in death rates has everything to do with the lived experience of being a black woman in America.
Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. In one year, that racial gap adds up to more than 4,000 lost black babies. Education and income offer little protection. In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education.
(click link above to read this powerful piece on NYTimes.com)
For more than 60 years, it has been the standard of care to try to speed up childbirth with drugs, or to perform a cesarean section if labor was seen as progressing too slowly.
Now a new set of recommendations is changing the game.
In February, the World Health Organization released a set of 56 recommendations in a report called Intrapartum Care for a Positive Childbirth Experience. One key recommendation is to allow a slow labor to continue without trying to hurry the birth along with drugs or other medical interventions. The paper cites studies showing that a long, slow labor — when the mother and baby are doing well — is not necessarily dangerous.
A little history is required to understand the importance of that one recommendation, says Dr. Aaron Caughey, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University, who did not work on the report. In 1955, Dr. Emanuel Friedman studied 500 women and concluded that labor is normal when, during the intense phase of contractions, the cervix opens at a rate of at least one centimeter (about 0.4 inches) an hour. “Dr. Friedman showed that 95 percent of women progressed” at this rate, says Caughey. “And that became the standard of care.”
(click to read on npr.org)
If it baby announcements seem to come all at once from a close group of friends, research shows there may be a reason: Pregnancy can be contagious.
“A friend’s childbearing positively influences an individual’s risk of becoming a parent,” concluded the authors of a 2014 study published in the journal American Sociological Association.
For the study, the researchers analyzed data on 1,720 women who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health) in the United States from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. Tracking female participants who were at least 15 years old in 1995 with home interviews throughout the next decade, the researchers saw that roughly half of the women had a child by the time the final interviews were conducted in 2008 or 2009.
(Click link at top to read the studies)
For those who are even aware of doulas at all, the term might bring up images of health-conscious moms-to-be, drinking cold-pressed green juices and flitting between yoga class and Lamaze. Further adding to their bourgeois appeal, the New York Times describes doulas—certified professionals there to assist and educate mothers through the various emotional and physical aspects of birth—to be “like personal trainers” and part of a “growing demand for personal service,” akin to “the doorman, the yoga teacher, [or] Amazon Prime.” Even the Wikipedia page for “doula” sites the service’s class-specific tendency.
A new study, however, states that doulas should be for all—especially low-income mothers who are at higher risk for pre-term births and other complications. Researchers at the University of Minnesota analyzed Medicaid records across 12 states and found that “women with doula care had a 22 percent lower rate of preterm births compared to women who didn’t have doula support,” according to MPR News.
(click link to read the article on broadly.vice.com)
(click link to read)
“…physical activity in pregnancy is safe and desirable, and pregnant women should be encouraged to continue or to initiate safe physical activities.” — ACOG Committee Opinion, Physical Activity and Exercise in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period
I am an OB/GYN physician and…
I love midwives. In fact, I think MIDWIVES ROCK. Midwives deliver over 50% of the babies in our birth unit. When it comes to normal birth, they are the experts. Let me explain.
(click link above to read the blog post)