Autocuidado para mejorar nuestra salud física y mental / Self-care to improve physical & mental health

Presentado por: Dámarys Crespo-Valedón y Yamellies Rivera González

Desde que comenzό la pandemia por el COVID-19, las promotoras de la salud que están al frente de esta pandemia, tienen altos niveles de estrés. Estos niveles elevados de estrés pueden dañar nuestro bienestar mental y físico. Este taller de autocuidado es para trabajadores comunitarios de salud y cualquier persona que quiera aprender técnicas para controlar sus niveles de estrés.

Se centra en el modelo de autocuidado que creó el Dr. James Gordon, fundador de The Center for Mind-Body Medicne (CMBM), en el cual, se enseñan destrezas de autocuidado, autoconciencia y ayuda mutua.

Espacio limitado – Regístrese aquí – 22 de Septiembre – 1:00 p.m. (CST)

Este seminario web discutirá lo siguiente:

• aprender y practicar una o dos de las destrezas que promueve el modelo
• diversos tipos de meditación
• visualizaciones guiadas
• bioretroalimentación
• entrenamiento autógeno y expression

Estas herramientas nos ayudan a manejar la ansiedad, la depresión y el estrés postraumático, entre otras condiciones. Además, brinda las herramientas necesarias para desarrollar resiliencia de manera muy sencilla y asequible, porque todo lo que se necesita lo tenemos en nuestro cuerpo, en nuestras manos.

Espacio limitado – Regístrese aquí – 22 de Septiembre – 1:00 p.m. (CST)

Note: This HC One webinar Self-care to improve physical & mental health is being presented in Spanish. At this time, there is no English version of the webinar scheduled. 

12 Organizations Supporting & Celebrating Black Moms Breastfeeding

In celebration of Black Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 25 through Aug. 31), we compiled a list of organizations and online groups that provide breastfeeding support for moms. If you’re an expectant mom who wants to learn more about lactation or you’ve already delivered your baby, it’s important for you to get the support you need to breastfeed successfully.

There are many health benefits for breastfeeding moms and their babies including antibodies found in breast milk. These antibodies help babies fight off bacteria/viruses and lowers the risk of asthma, allergies, and respiratory illnesses. Breastfeeding moms also lower their chances of breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Recently, data on breastfeeding children indicated that “83% of U.S. mothers breastfed their babies at birth. However, when the research was broken down by race 85% of white mothers breastfed more than Black mothers who only breastfed 69%.”

This disparity is attributed to systematic racism within hospital networks who don’t encourage breastfeeding initiation to Black moms and often promote formula. The other obstacle moms face is dealing with the possible stigma of being shamed in public for breastfeeding their child. These things can impact a mom’s breastfeeding confidence and discourage her to breastfeed.

We honor and support organizations and online groups who are working hard to show off Black families representing breastfeeding. We support them in their efforts to promote and protect Black families and their desire to provide only the best for Black families.

Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association

Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE)

African American Breastfeeding Network

Black Breastfeeding Week

BirthMatters Spartanburg

United States Breastfeeding Committee

National Association of Professional Peer Lactation Counselors

MoDaBa (Fatima Muhammad Roque)

Early Dawn Birthing Services (Chelesa Presley)

Blooming Moon Midwifery Services (Toni Hill)   

Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project (Natasha Enos)

Southern Birth Justice

(Photo credit: Flint Chaney 08)

Power of Breastfeeding Reflection

I had my son and the hospital told me to go straight to the WIC office and that’s what I did.  I needed to figure out how to feed him. I can recall when I got to the WIC office they asked me for insurance and proof of income. I didn’t have any of this paperwork and they told me they were unable to give me any formula for him. I sat in the waiting room and began to cry. The lactation counselor, asked me why was I crying? I said I couldn’t feed my baby and they (WIC) wouldn’t give me any milk for him. She said to me: “you can feed your baby!” I asked, how?  She pointed to my breasts and began to teach me in the waiting area how to breastfeed my child. That is how my breastfeeding journey began for me and my child. In my community, no one I knew breastfed.

If the lactation counselor was not there that day, I would have gone home, and my grandmother probably would’ve given my son Carnation milk and Karo Syrup or Similac with iron, which is also a staple in the African American community. Sometimes, I would feed my baby in the bathroom because I felt embarrassed about breastfeeding at home when relatives were present. I did not have the education or support which is widely available today. I thought of my breast as sexual objects which is another reason it was uncomfortable for me to nurse in front of others. However, today I recommend breastfeeding with the same confidence and assurance as the lactation consultant did with me!

Infant Mortality Rates (IMR) is much higher among African Americans 4.7% Non- Hispanic White we need to give our babies a chance and it starts by putting them to our breast. If you need help learning to breastfeed your child a breastfeeding support counselor can help you latch your baby on today. Here is a list of organizations that are providing breastfeeding support or you can send us an inquiry at info@healthconnectone.org and we can refer you. – Tikvah Wadley, HC One Lead Doula

women gathered in a conference room in front of large screen at training

HC One Trains Emerging Birth Workers In Milwaukee, WI

During this pandemic, HealthConnect One (HC One) continues to provide training and consulting to organizations across the country. The rise in COVID-19 cases makes community-based doulas, even more, important in supporting moms and babies especially “pregnant Latina and Black women who are infected at significantly higher rates than white women.”  Data shows that community-based doulas (CBD) are an important part of ensuring positive birth and lactation outcomes in vulnerable communities.

Recently, HealthConnect One did a virtual doula training for the city of Milwaukee Health Department’s Birth Outcomes Made Better Doula Program. It was led by Wandy Hernandez-Gordon, who is a DONA certified birth doula, and Brenda Reyes, lead on peer lactation services. At this time, community-based doulas need to be supported to be safe and effective in their communities. HC One trainers provide participants with the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, the long-term impact on Black and Brown communities, and resources they’re able to use through telehealth services.

In HC One’s Virtual Doula Training, participants learned the fundamentals of becoming a DONA private birth doula. They also learned about HC One’s Community-Based Doula Program that is the only home visiting program with a commitment to support birthing families prenatally, during labor and postpartum. The peer-to-peer relationship and the continuity of care creates a close-knit fabric of support around the family, which has a broad and deep impact on a variety of outcomes.

The training included an important breastfeeding educational component. “Breastfeeding provides tremendous health and mental benefit for the mother, baby, parents, and community. The trainer reviewed the recent recommendation from the World Health Organization focused on COVID-19 and lactation. “It’s important to continue supporting, protecting, and promoting breastfeeding, said Brenda Reyes. “The communities we work with can identify for themselves how they protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.”

As a result of this virtual doula training, the participants will be able to support and educate birthing families in pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. This will help and improve birth outcomes in their communities because they are educating individuals early in the process.

HealthConnect One’s birth equity work continues to be more important than ever because during this pandemic racial health disparities are even more prevalent. “Due to the pandemic, discrimination continues to impact Black and Latinx communities,” said Wandy Hernandez-Gordon. “During this time, HC One is able to advocate, educate and lend our virtual platforms to do trainings, offer free webinars and provide a platform for community health workers to share information, experiences, and seek support, during this critical time.”

Is your organization interested in a virtual doula training? Contact us at info@healthconnectone.org 

Jamarah Amani webinar photo

Increase power, improve health outcomes, Amani says

Please click below to view the webinar video from May 28.

“We cannot talk about health disparities without talking about power, and how lack of access to power over the course of one’s life impacts the ability to be healthy,” Jamarah Amani, executive director of Southern Birth Justice, told more than 100 birth workers and others on HealthConnect One’s recent webinar.

“By increasing power, we also improve health outcomes,” Amani said. She was the featured presenter on the second of three webinars focusing on birth equity this spring and summer. Milwaukeean Dalvery Blackwell presented her agency’s birth equity work during COVID-19 on the first; a third is later this week in Spanish and in English

Amani is founder of the National Black Midwives Alliance, the only national professional association specifically for midwives of African descent, as well as director at Southern Birth Justice, working to expand the birth justice movement and to make midwifery and doula care accessible to all. She’s been honored numerous times for tackling the epidemics of black maternal and infant morbidity and mortality for more than 15 years, such as the 2019 Trailblazer Award from the city of Miami, as well as media coverage in Florida where she’s based and nationally.

Birth Justice Bill of Rights & Circle of Mamas 

Amani presented an approach that combines the toolboxes of the community health worker and the community organizer. She shared her organization’s Birth Justice Bill of Rights, 22 core values that Black and all other pre-conception, pregnant, birthing or postpartum persons have a right to–from the right to stand against racism to the right to recognize that my body is always mine. 

She also discussed their seven-year-old Circle of Mamas program, a combination childbirth preparation, doula support, and leadership development circle, Amani said: “e talk to young mamas about their birth options. We educate them, they educate us on what their needs are, and we work together collaboratively with our community in a participatory way to uplift and honor their needs.” 

She presented, with permission, the video birth story of Bianca, a young woman who participated in Circle of Mamas and chose to deliver at a birth center. 

“When I watched this video,” Amani said, “it really to me is what is possible when we come together as a community, when we have access to black midwives and black doulas, when young parents are not shamed but they are celebrated for their journey into motherhood  and parenting. This is to me what is possible.”

“And it doesn’t mean it’s easy. You know but it is possible. And it will help to not only improve health outcomes but make our communities better places to live and to grow. That is central to the birth justice movement.”

PPE for Black Midwives available 

As Amani explained in the opening portion of her pre-recorded presentation, a client was headed into labor at the scheduled time of the session. But that seemed to present few problems for Amani, nor for participants who tuned in through to the end of the session, facilitated by the HealthConnect One team. Joining the call were more than 130 people from 30 states and Puerto Rico, as well as several who joined in from Brazil and Canada.

The presentation lifted up historical birth workers including Onnie Lee Logan and Biddy Mason and was dedicated to Claudia Booker, the Washington, D.C. midwife who passed away earlier this year, a formative influence for Amani.

Before ending the session, Amani discussed key initiatives in her work during the time of COVID-19.  The National Black Midwives Alliance and Everyday Birth magazine are paying for Personal Protective Equipment for midwives of color facing difficulties getting these supplies. Information on how to request a kit or make donations to support purchase of additional kits is here.

Sen Durbin video screenshot

This is what a leader looks like: U.S. Sen. Durbin’s CHW of the Year Video

Play Video

 

This pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on African American and Latinx communities, leaving many mothers and babies of color vulnerable…. More than ever, mothers and babies in minority communities need support, and the faculty and leadership of the Birth Equity Leadership Academy have stepped up. Thank you, BELA!

–Senator Richard J. Durbin

 

day 2 promo of EBOB event to intro CHW AwardIn 2014, HealthConnect One recognized U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin because of his support for community-based doulas and other community health workers.

Senator Durbin’s work had allowed HealthConnect One to make great strides in providing important health access and early parenting support in Illinois – and he had also recently become a grandfather.

He was enthusiastic when, in addition to recognizing his efforts on behalf of maternal and child health —which have continued– the organization named its Community Health Worker of the Year Award in his honor. Since then we’ve recognized leaders from Illinois, Washington state, and New Mexico for their work as community-based doulas.

We’re grateful to him for his continued support and leadership. Thank you for watching.

We’re also grateful to sponsors of our virtual Every Baby Our Baby this year: Gold sponsors the Irving Harris Foundation and Perigee Fund; Silver sponsor, Navistar, and Copper sponsors, Mairita Smiltars, Gordon Mayer Communications, and Graceful Fusion Birth Doula Trainings.

Our work to support and train community-based doulas, peer counselors and other community health workers continues. We appreciate you for being here. If you are able to support this work at any level, you can contribute here.

Thank you!

Support our work

promo of EBOB event to intro CHW Award

Congratulations, Community Health Worker(s) of the Year

Play Video

Back in February, we were full speed ahead planning our annual Every Baby Our Baby bash. That was a different world and we’re not looking back. Not being able to be together this year is just the start of what’s different this year.Every Baby Our Baby promo

We can still recognize our leaders and the change they are making happen. And we can still thank those who make it possible for us to continue to advance equitable, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting.

This week we are holding up individuals shaping a new conversation around birth equity, beginning today with HealthConnect One’s Community Health Worker of the Year award. This year instead of recognizing one CHW, we’re recognizing 129 of them… the 129 leaders and mentors of our Birth Equity Leadership Academy in Puerto Rico and more than 25 states.

These leaders have been one factor in making HealthConnect One’s longtime vision of peer support to help women of color have better births part of a larger movement. We celebrate both their impact and the journey each of them took to become the leaders they are.

We’ve collected some of their statements over the years we’ve had the privilege of working with them, and photos of them from the convenings and workshops we’ve held with them. We hope you’ll enjoy watching our presentation of them.

We’re also grateful to sponsors of our virtual Every Baby Our Baby this year: Gold sponsors the Irving Harris Foundation and Perigee Fund; Silver sponsor, Navistar, and Copper sponsors, Mairita Smiltars, Gordon Mayer Communications, and Graceful Fusion Birth Doula Trainings.

Our work to support and train community-based doulas, peer counselors and other community health workers continues. We appreciate you for being here. If you are able to support this work at any level, you can contribute here. Thank you!

Support our work

Honoring Black Birth Workers of the Past

by Olivia Dockery

Black History Month is the time when we honor, reflect and learn about elders who have impacted Black culture and how their legacy is continued. This Black History Month, HealthConnect One wants to honor the legacies of Black birth workers who have played critical roles in improving the health outcomes of Black mothers, babies, and families. Today, Black women are three to four times more likely to die due to pregnancy-related causes than white women. Most of these deaths are preventable, so why does this disparity exist?

The 15th century marked the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade. Africans were enslaved and brought over to the Americas to provide labor in order to secure and build European settlements and wealth. To resist one of society’s most dehumanizing atrocities, enslaved Africans preserved traditions and customs. One of those customs were traditional birth practices. Traditional birth workers were vital to the survival of Black people. These birth workers, also known as “granny” midwives, were viewed as trusted community members with the ability to heal, care, and assist others. They were taught through practice and would pass down their knowledge from generation to generation.

Black birth workers were known as more than midwives; they were postpartum doulas, lactation consultants, family counselors, health educators, and so much more. The post- Emancipation period did not improve the quality of life for formerly enslaved Blacks. They had to succumb to working and living conditions similar to those on plantations. Black birth workers traveled all over the south to make sure that Black families received the care that was needed regardless of their geographic location or ability to pay. They bridged the gap between disenfranchised communities and the health care system. Advancement in medicine, systemic racism, and patriarchy pushed Black midwives out and provided space for the white, male doctors that conquered U.S. medical institutions. Midwifery began to be regarded as an unsafe, outdated model of childbirth and “by the 20th century, 50% of births were attended by a midwife.”

According to ProPublica,  “only 10% of all births were attended by a midwife,”  and 2% of midwives in the U.S. are Black, noted the American College of Nurse-Midwives.” Multiple studies have shown that midwives and doulas can improve the health outcomes of mothers and babies. It is clear that community-based birth workers can lead successful interventions to combat the racial disparities that exist within maternal and child health. While we encourage Black health professionals to enter the birthing field, we must continue to challenge and dismantle the systems of racism and patriarchy. Black birth workers of the past did just that, today we honor them.

Spotlight On Historical Black Birth Workers

Bridget “Biddy” Mason was born enslaved in Georgia during the early 19th century. She was not only a midwife, but an advocate for other enslaved Black people. Her last owner moved west to California and there she petitioned for her and her family’s freedom. Once she was free, she began to save money from her midwifery practice. She founded the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in L.A. Through Mason’s acquired wealth, she became known as a local philanthropist. She donated to many charities, fed and housed low-income families, and visited prisoners. She also founded an elementary school for Black children. Bridget “Biddy” Mason’s contribution to improving the lives of Black families will not be forgotten.

Margaret Charles Smith didn’t start practicing midwifery until her late 30s. She was one of Greene County, Alabama’s first official midwives in 1949. Her career spanned over 35 years and she delivered over 3,000 babies. Smith worked mostly in the rural, Jim Crow South where there was little to no care for Black mothers and their families; whether there were no accessible health facilities or the health facilities refused to treat Black patients. In 1996, Smith wrote a book about her life as a midwife, Listen to Me Good: The Life Story of an Alabama Midwife. In 2010, she was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame. Margaret Charles Smith’s legacy of caring for marginalized and underserved communities lives on through the contemporary work of Black birth workers.

Mary Francis Hill Coley also known as Miss Mary was a midwife that practiced in Georgia for more than three decades. She trained under another great, Black midwife, Onnie Lee Logan. Miss Mary was a pillar of her community. Along with her midwifery practice, she became a health advocate for rural Black families. In 1952, Miss Mary was asked to do a training video for the Georgia Health Department. It was clear that Miss Mary was an expert at her craft, her patients and community loved her. The documentary, All My Babies: A Midwife’s Own Story, received critical acclaim and was used by the World Health Organization and United Nations to train midwives across the globe. We honor Miss Mary and the work she has done to improve the health outcomes of Black moms, babies, and families.

This month, HealthConnect One will be publishing our latest  in-depth brief “Community-Based Doulas and the Medicalization of Birth.” Stay tuned!!!

Interview with Esperanza Dodge, Durbin CHW Awardee & Operations Director of Young Women United

Birth Work in New Mexico

Sometimes, we don’t know all the birth options that are available to us and even if we do, they aren’t always accessible. It’s pretty cool that here In New Mexico, Medicaid covers home births and freestanding birth center births with a licensed midwife. It’s such a great option for many seeking a respectful perinatal care.

Many who hear about this after giving birth wish they knew of it sooner so they could have received that type of care. While I did know about home births when pregnant, I really wish I knew I could give birth at a freestanding birth center as this option really appeals to me as a single mom. . It could have meant so much to have prenatal, labor and postpartum care where I wasn’t rushed, but was listened to and my body and birth experience was treated respectfully. Pregnant women and people need a trusted relationship with their provider, not just the provider on shift at a hospital while you’re in labor. It makes a big difference when women and people of color can access birth workers that look like us. Our birth outcomes are better for it too.

Through my work at Young Women United (YWU), I helped launch the New Mexico Doula Association alongside other New Mexico-based BELA leaders to support doulas in New Mexico, advocate to make doula work sustainable and increase the number of women and people of color birth workers, especially in rural areas. My desire is to advocate for doulas and midwives because their jobs are so important in supporting the pregnant person and babies. It’s challenging for doulas to both have the time and energy to do birth work, but also spend their time doing birth equity work. As a non-doula, I hope I can be part of making their work a little easier and accessible to families most in need of this service. YWU is also conducting a research project that looks at the birth experiences of low income families of color who have accessed licensed midwifery care in the state of New Mexico and I’ve really enjoyed being a researcher on this project.

Addiction and Pregnancy

The project I’m most proud to have worked on over the past year is a unique curriculum I and YWU created alongside women with lived experience around addiction and pregnancy. This curriculum is a training for doulas and birth companions to work with women and people with substance use disorders during their labor. The training is informed by women with lived experience of addiction and pregnancy. Topics covered are unlike any I’ve ever experienced in the birth workers community. Even I learned so much from the women and find the information valuable and essential for our communities struggling with addiction who also deserve compassionate care. We’ve taught this training 4 times and every time, it has made a meaningful impact on the doulas and birth companions who will be proving their services to community who needs it the most. It makes me so happy to know women and people are closer to receiving the care they deserve. It is part of a larger movement we (YWU) has done to create a culture shift around addiction and pregnancy/motherhood alongside those most impacted.

Birth Equity Leadership Academy

I didn’t know I was a community health worker (CHW) until I attended the orientation for the Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA). One of the facilitators described it as improving the overall health of a

Birth Equity Leadership Academy Training at photo credit: Judy Fidkowski

community. It made me realize I’ve been doing this work for a long time in various communities. Being part of BELA has also given me the opportunity to host a webinar for my fellow BELA colleagues on making your money work for you, because as birth workers and advocates, finances are crucial to sustaining our work and our lives.. As a single mom I learned that taking control of my finances was essential for my family’s well-being and allows me to parent in ways I find meaningful.

The other part of BELA that I love is the regional meetings because they are rich in learning opportunities and allow me to connect with others doing incredible work around the US and Puerto Rico. It’s a great gathering where people share their birth work experiences, challenges, support and common goals. For me, it’s important that everyone is valued for their expertise in whatever piece of the work they are doing to make an impact. There are so many BELA leaders that are doing amazing work to address maternal mortality and other birth equity issues in their respective communities. I’m moved by the work BELA leaders and faculty are doing to provide grassroots level solutions and that gives me hope.

Advocacy: Ban-the-Box Legislation

Through the policy work I’ve done at my organization, I’ve been able to collaborate on and successfully pass Ban-the-Box legislation in New Mexico. It was important for me to work on this issue because it has a direct impact on the lives of women and families. Prior to this legislation, those who were previously incarcerated had to check a box on applications asking if they have any felonies or convictions, which could greatly diminish their chance at employment. This legislation removes that question. I accredit the hard work of the mothers and fathers we worked closely with who were previously incarcerated. For 5 years we lobbied our state legislators by having real conversations about what it means to seek employment with a record. They just want to find successful employment, give back to society and provide for their loved ones. Ban-the-Box brings them one step closer to this. It’s been a beautiful victory I’m proud to have finally won this year.

This Fall: Feature Film Debut on Addiction and Pregnancy

I am so blessed to be able to do the work I do, especially at a reproductive justice organization led by women of

Photo credit via Las Cruces Newspaper

color. Sometimes I’m in disbelief about the opportunities I’m given to make gigantic things happen across New Mexico, and beyond. One of the most incredible projects I got to work on is the feature film that we at Young Women United (YWU) produced that centers the complexities of addiction and motherhood. The creation of the film was created by women with lived experiences of addiction and pregnancy/motherhood. Their expertise was so valuable in shaping the film from its inception to actual production. We worked closely with professional cast and crew to bring the film to life. I’m so excited to see the movie debut this Fall. We are on our way to creating a huge culture shift in the way people view addiction and motherhood, which can have real impacts on people’s lives.

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Esperanza Dodge is HC One’s 2019 Durbin Community Health Worker of the Year Recipient

Moms and babies in Michigan receive the gold-standard of care through Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association’s community-based doula program ~ via SF Bay View

Read – Moms and babies in Michigan receive the gold-standard of care through Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association’s community-based doula program

“Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA) in Detroit, Mich., has successfully received national accreditation through HealthConnect One’s (HC One) Community-Based Doula Accreditation Program. BMBFA underwent a rigorous process in which the HealthConnect One Accreditation Team reviewed the organization’s existing Community-Based Doula Program to ensure high-quality implementation.

“Community-based doulas play an important role in helping decrease maternal and infant mortality rates and increase breastfeeding rates. These women are trained to provide peer support to other women in their communities throughout pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting.

“BMBFA’s accreditation from HealthConnect One comes at a time when maternal and infant mortality is skyrocketing in the African-American community due to racial disparities in the healthcare system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the risk of pregnancy-related deaths for black women is three to four times higher than those of white women.” This is impacting the health of African-American women at an alarming rate, causing a maternal health epidemic. The accreditation means that BMBFA is providing Detroit mothers with the highest quality care.”

by Kiddada Green, published by the San Francisco Bay View, a National Black Newspaper, on May 16, 2019