This #GivingTuesday, make a donation to HealthConnect One in support of healthy pregnancies, births, and breastfeeding in Black, Brown, and Indigenous Communities

When you give to HealthConnect One we partner with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to develop custom solutions for critical support during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting.

HealthConnect One co-developed solutions impact communities by:

  • Protecting mothers/birthing people and babies from illness and death during and after pregnancy
  • Increasing breastfeeding rates
  • Reducing COVID-19 related isolation and misinformation
  • Providing support for postpartum depression
  • Securing sustainable and fair pay for community-centered birth workers

Every dollar counts. Your support helps create healthier communities !

  • $25 – $50 contributes to advocacy work
  • $100 – $500 supports communication tools for breastfeeding during COVID-19
  • $1,000-$2,500 pays for a birth equity advocacy webinar
  • $25,000 supports a community-based Breastfeeding Peer Counselor training
  • $100,000 supports training at 4 new Community-Based Doula programs

This year, GivingTuesday will be held on December 1, 2020. GivingTuesday encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. Make a donation in any amount today! We thank you in advance!

Black Women, The Backbone of Democracy

Dear Friends,

This election is a very American story – a deeply fractured nation showed up to exercise their right to vote. Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, who are also the most overlooked, drove change. Boots on the ground, people on the phone, and online urged communities to vote, and the results have been incredible. 62% of eligible voters cast their votes in this presidential election. This turnout was the largest since 1968, which was another period of racial and societal tension.

Our communities are experiencing a crisis within a crisis as generations of systemic racism have made us more vulnerable to the pandemic’s effects. The heightened racial tension playing out in the nation provides a constant reminder of the ever-present interpersonal racism, bias, and divisiveness. Amidst this crisis, we showed up. Our votes shifted the course of the election; the large Black communities in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Detroit and the Indigenous and Latinx communities in Arizona made a significant impact on the result. Our lives matter, our voices matter, our votes matter, and our participation in government matters. 

The nation has lots of healing to do, and I hope that President-Elect Joe Biden supports the change we need in our communities and the country. As a Black Jamaican woman, a child of immigrants, and someone raised by a single mother, I am filled with pride to witness Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris take office. Her acknowledgment that Black women are often overlooked but are the “backbone of our democracy” cannot be understated and was echoed by the many people online thanking Black women for getting people to the polls. 

My sincere hope is that the appreciation of Black, Brown, and Indigenous votes is not the end. The work of organizations focused on racial justice, including birth justice and the racial wealth gap must be supported through funding and policy change. HealthConnect One is committed to continuing our work supporting birth justice, fair pay for birth workers, and collaboration with partners and legislators for an even more significant impact.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Twylla Dillion
Executive Director
HealthConnect One 

Photo courtesy of: Meena Harris via Twitter

Post Election: Supporting Black, Brown, & Indigenous Moms, Babies, & Families

Dear friends,
 
The sun came up this morning, the garbage truck came and honked because we forgot to take out the trash, my kids, husband, and I scrambled to get everyone where they needed to be. Like every other morning, we got to where we need to be, and our work continues.
 
We at HealthConnect One and other birth equity organizations have so much critical work to do. No matter the result of the many elections, including the presidential one, our communities will need us to step up our work to improve their residents’ lives.
 
We must continue to lift the conversation that birth equity is our first and most fundamental experience with racial equity. We must continue to elevate the voices of Black, Brown, and Indigenous women/birthing people in maternal-child health. We must continue to collaborate with communities to prepare community health workers and arrive at the solutions faster. We must continue to be responsive to the changing landscape at the county, state, and national levels.  We must continue to advocate for economic equity for the work done by community health workers, including community-based doulas and peer lactation counselors.
 
We need to learn from this electoral experience and carry those learnings with us in our work. HealthConnect One is committed to supporting our communities to have ongoing understanding and participation in the legislative process, including communicating with legislators on birth, reproductive, economic, and racial justice issues.
 
Finally, no matter the outcomes of this Election Day, HealthConnect One will continue to be undeterred in our work to support birth equity in communities that have been and continue to be impacted most deliberately and profoundly by systemic, structural, interpersonal, and internalized racism.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Twylla Dillion
Executive Director
HealthConnect One 

5 Voting Resources To Flex Your Voting Power

Dear friends, 

Elections are underway across the nation. The results of the elections will have a long-reaching impact on our nation’s healthcare systems and on the health of Black, Brown, and Indigenous families. 

WHAT’S ON THE BALLOT-> Find out here where the Presidential candidates stand on the healthcare policies that impact maternal health and the welfare of birthing families. 

FIND YOUR POLLING LOCATION> Find answers to questions about your state here- such as polling locations, in-person registration, and other local questions.

VOTER ID-> Two-thirds of states expect you to provide identification to let you vote at the polls. Find out about your state’s voter ID laws here.

FIRST TIME VOTER? -> This video can help you prepare to vote, and here’s a handy checklist with everything you need to cast your vote. 

WHATS ON THE BALLOT? -> In addition to the Presidential candidates, there are various candidates and issues on the ballot that will impact how decisions are made for our birthing families. Find out more here.


Thank you for lending your voice and advocacy in support of birthing families!

 
The HealthConnect One Team 

Supporting Black Moms Who Have Lost A Baby During or After Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an exciting time for expectant moms looking forward to welcoming their new baby into the world. Unfortunately, not all moms have this experience. October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It’s a time to be supportive of moms who have lost a child during pregnancy or infancy. In many communities, no one ever talks about losing a baby during or after pregnancy because it’s linked to shame and stigma.

This month, it is also crucial to talk about the Black infant mortality rate, which is 2 times higher than White infants, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health). This leaves many Black moms grieving the unexpected loss of their infant during pregnancy or postpartum.

Some of the causes of Black infant mortality include:

  • Low birth weight
  • Maternal complications
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • Racism in medical settings

study released in August of 2020, by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Journal noted that, “When cared for by White physicians, Black newborns were about three times more likely to die in the hospital than White newborns, the researchers found. That disparity dropped significantly when the doctor was Black, although Black newborns nonetheless remained more likely than White newborns to die.”

The unexpected death of a baby during or after pregnancy is devasting for moms. The isolation and grief can cause anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. “The family must acknowledge there was a baby before we can provide support on the loss of their baby,” says Tikvah Wadley, HC One Lead Doula.

Grieving moms will need community support to help them through this agonizing experience. It can be as simple as listening to them, providing meals, sending care packages, referrals to grief counselors or support groups, if she has other children providing childcare, or helping her around her home, so she has space to grieve the loss of her baby.

It is important for Black moms to have the resources necessary to support their mental health during the grieving process. Below are a few organizations that are focused on helping moms who have lost baby along with some other resources. If you have additional resources, please send them to dpando@healthconnectone.org,and we can update this resource page.

Resources for moms grieving the loss of a baby or child

Sisters In Loss

Return to Zero

National Share

PSI Online Support

Tears Foundation Support Groups

Books on infant/child loss

Hold On To Hope by Stacey Edwards

What God Is Honored Here by Shannon Gibney & Kao Kalia Yang (Editors)

Beyond Tears by Ellen Mitchell

Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a Child by Gary Roe

Documentary:

Don’t talk about the baby

Sources:

Center for Disease and Prevention Infant Mortality Report

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Report

Your Vote Matters To Birthing Families

Dear friends,

This year has been a challenging experience for us all, as fear of COVID-19 infection, homeschooling, social isolation and economic upheaval changed our lives.

On November 3, we have an opportunity to decide who will lead our nation as we navigate a pandemic. It’s not just a presidential election, there are various candidates and issues on the ballot in November that will impact how decisions are made for our birthing families.

Here’s how you can take action! 

1. Start by making sure you are registered to vote.

2. If you are not yet registered, there is still time! Register online before October 18.

3. You can vote by mail by October 15. You can find out what options are available for voting in your state.

4. Are you a first time voter? Here’s a handy checklist with everything you need to cast your vote.

5. Speak to your family and friends to make sure they have all the information they need to make their voice heard at the ballot!

Your voice and your vote matter! Thank you for lending your voice and advocacy in support of birthing families!

The HealthConnect One Team

Virtual Meet & Greet with Dr. Twylla Dillion

Join us for a virtual meet and greet event to get to know our new Executive Director, Dr. Twylla Dillion! She has a great vision for HealthConnect One and wants to share it with all of our supporters!

In her prior work at United Way of Greater Rochester, Dr. Dillion focused on using data and analytics across the fundraising, grantmaking, and evaluation cycle. Additionally, Dr. Dillion has conducted research on breastfeeding, served as program officer for maternal-child health programs, and worked as a research lead on a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the project focused on collaborating with Black moms better to understand contributors to Black maternal mortality/morbidity and develop strategies for better outcomes.

RSVP: INSERT LINK  

This virtual event will be moderated by Jeretha McKinley, HC One Program Director. During the meet and greet, we’ll have a Q&A session where you’ll get the opportunity to ask Dr. Dillion questions about the maternal health issues that matter to you!

Breonna Taylor Deserved Better

We stand with all who loved Breonna Taylor, Black Lives Matter, and activists across the nation and world demanding justice for her murder.

Systemic and interpersonal racism led to Breonna’s murder, and even in death, have prevented her from having justice. Racism is a public health crisis. We must find ways to dismantle the systems of oppression that hurt our communities.

HealthConnect One continues to stand in solidarity with Black people against racism in all its forms. It is critical that we continue using our collective voice against injustice and centering Black women and their families. We will continue to say Breonna Taylor’s name, and work with birth workers, partner organizations, funders, and our supporters to lift-up and protect Black moms, babies, and their families.

If you would like to make a donation to Breonna Taylor’s family you can do so here.

Additional resources:

Mental health resources for the Black community

Register to vote

HC One Announces New Executive Director: Twylla Dillion, MBA, PhD.

Dear Friends,

The HealthConnect One Board of Directors is thrilled to announce Dr. Twylla Dillion as our new Executive Director. She is joining the organization on Monday, September 14, 2020.

She comes to HealthConnect One from the United Way of Greater Rochester and has also recently served as lead for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCORI) Black Maternal Mortality project with the Healthy Baby Network. Her experience in maternal-child health, community-based participatory research (CBPR), Medicaid reform and philanthropy will be an asset to HealthConnect One as we begin this next chapter of our organizational story.

Dr. Dillion shares our commitment to advance respectful, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and early parenting. Dr. Dillion believes that “to ensure equity, all mothers should have access to the tools needed to guide their birth experience, including advocacy, birth equity, and breastfeeding, doula, and community health worker support. HealthConnect One plays a pivotal role in supporting birth equity, and I am proud to join the organization at this crucial time.”

The HealthConnect One Board and staff look forward to working with Dr. Dillion to advance equity in maternal and child health, so that every baby, mother, and family can thrive in a healthy community.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Dillion to HealthConnect One – I know that she is eager to connect with you and all of our partners and friends in the weeks to come.

Sincerely,

Mairita Smiltars,
Board President
HealthConnect One

World Breastfeeding Week: Interview with Cata Contreras Guajardo on Breastfeeding

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, we wanted to share a short interview with Cata Contreras Guajardo, the woman featured in the powerful photo above. We thank Cata for taking the time to share her thoughts on breastfeeding.

Why is breastfeeding important to you and your family?

Breastfeeding is not just food. For me and my children, it’s been caresses, shelter, and comfort. It’s also important to us because it’s consolation on nights when they are sick.

What was your breastfeeding experience like with your child?

The first few months of breastfeeding my second daughter was complicated. I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding. I would get in a bad mood and this impacts babies. As time went by, things began to improve and only positive things came from breastfeeding.

What kind of event were you participating in when you were breastfeeding your child?

Throughout my pregnancy, I had participated in the traditional Tinkus dance. On this day, I went to the festival early to rehearse and breastfed my four-month-old son during the break. My parents came with me and took the photo before the performance began. Amaru is going to be five-years-old and since he was a baby has been going to the festival and Andean ceremonies

What advice do you give moms who are trying to breastfeed?

To the moms reading this post: Don’t give up! Breastfeeding is our natural right. Sometimes, it hurts, makes us tired, and can overwhelm us but it’s not impossible. If you’re struggling with the process, find a breastfeeding/lactation peer counselor to help you with any breastfeeding issues.

Photo credit: Parents of Cata Contreras

***

Entrevista con Cata Contreras Guajardo sobre la lactacion materna

¿Por qué es tan importante la lactancia materna para usted y sus hijos?

la lactancia no es sólo alimento. Para mí y mis hijos han sido, caricias, cobijo y consuelo. Es importante para nosotros, fue la base de la alimentación, el consuelo de caídas y noches de enfermedad.

¿Cómo se han visto afectados usted y sus hijos por la lactancia materna?

Los primeros meses de lactancia de mi segunda hija fueron complicados, tuve heridas y no era agradable lactar, me ponía de mal humor e irritable y eso también afectaba a los bebés. Pasando los días fue mejorando y sólo fueron cosas positives.

Cuéntanos sobre la foto de ti con tu hijo

en esta foto mi hijo tenía 4 meses, había bailado Tinkus todo mi embarazo y este carnaval en específico me encantaba, así que mis padres me acompañaron cuidando a Amaru y me tomaron la foto ensayando antes de partir a bailar. Amaru está por cumplir 5 años y jamás ha dejado de asistir a carnavales y ceremonias andinas

 ¿Por qué es tan importante la lactancia materna para usted y sus hijos?

Mamá que estás leyendo esto: No te rindas !! La lactancia es nuestra naturaleza !! A veces duele, cansa y agobia, pero no es imposible! Buscar asistencia profesional puede resolver todos los problems!

(Autor de la photo: Padres de Cata Contreras)