Celebrating AAPI Month

Centering AAPI Voices in Breastfeeding Advocacy

As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI), HealthConnect One is highlighting the impactful work of To-wen Tseng, who has dedicated her career to centering AAPI voices in her breastfeeding advocacy. To-wen is a mother, journalist, author, and activist. She has been a key voice for the AAPI community in the breastfeeding world, serving as a long-time Volunteer Blogger at San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition, and more recently, an Elected Director on the United States Breastfeeding Committee. She co-founded the API Breastfeeding Task Force in 2017 and then Asian American Native Hawaiian and Asian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Breastfeeding Week in 2021.  

In collaboration with HealthConnect One’s First Food Equity Project, To-wen and her team led a Baby Cafè at DeDe Diner. Their mission was to combat stigma, decrease inequities and normalize breast/chestfeeding in Los Angeles County’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities by improving education and support practices. To-wen shares that the “social stigma, coupled with lack of resources, have hindered Asian parents’ ability to successfully breastfeed. Data shows nearly 50% of Asian Americans in San Gabriel Valley, the home to the largest Asian population in Los Angeles County, are limited English proficient, and less than 6% of lactation professionals in Los Angeles County speak an Asian language. Additionally, prenatal medical visits offer little breastfeeding education using language or culture-appropriate materials.” It is important to recognize the unique cultural and linguistic needs of AAPI families, which their Baby Cafè hoped to do. To-wen shares that they simply could not have an “API Baby Cafè,” because API is a very diverse population. They decided to center the most under-served group and with their community partner, BreastfeedLA , chose the Filipino population. Dede means breastfeeding in Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines. 

To-wen wants to remind people that while we tend to group all the AANHPI people together, “it is actually a very diverse, or I might as well say very divided, group. A record 22 million API Americans trace their roots to more than East and Southeast Asian countries and the Indian subcontinent, each with unique histories, cultures, languages and other characteristics. In many cases, they disagree with one another. In some extreme cases, they even hate one another. Please keep that in mind and don’t assume things when you work with API families.”  

Preserving Black Futures; Resisting White Supremacy

The HealthConnect One team mourns the loss of Black grandmas, uncles, dads, sisters, and moms, at the hands of White supremacy in Buffalo on Sunday. 

In a country where growing theories and hate target the joy of Black birth, our team remains focused and strengthened to continue our work. The preservation and survival of Black life, joy, families, and communities, is the core of our work. 

As we continue to work towards ensuring Black people can give birth safely and future generations of Black communities can thrive, we hope our legislators take action to address domestic terrorism and our allies and have deep conversations about the threat of White supremacy. 

Today, say the names of the people who were murdered. Hold their memories as we dream, hope, and organize for a reformed country, and remember Black folks in Buffalo who have lost another supermarket now creating a food desert. 

SAY THEIR NAMES

Aaron Salter, 55; Ruth Whitfield, 86; Katherine “Kat” Massey, 72; Pearly Young, 77; Heyward Patterson, 67; Celestine Chaney, 65; Roberta Drury, 32; Margus D. Morrison, 52; Andre Mackneil, 53; Geraldine Talley, 62.

You can support local organizations in Buffalo by providing food relief for Black folks during this time: @feedbuffalo @buffalocommunityfridge @feedmorewny.

For Black colleagues, partners, and networks, please visit beam.community for mental health resources as we process this horrific event.

As we battle with and strategize against White supremacy, please use this Self-Check In Tool from BEAM.
How Am I? A Self Check-in

Mental – What are my thoughts right now? How are they impacting me? What fear of how folks will perceive me is getting in the way of asking for the help I need?

Physical – Am I hungry? Am I tired? Am I in pain? What am I feeling in my body and where? What is/are the message(s) my body is sending me about my needs?

Emotional – What am I feeling? What helps me to feel resourced and grounded before taking on something that requires more of me?

Image with we're hiring at the top and our two open positions listed at the bottom

Join the HealthConnect One Team!

Our team is growing and we are hiring for two new positions! We are seeking individuals with passion/and or experience working on birth/reproductive justice or issues related to racial justice or other complex issues in a social justice context.

Communications & Digital Advocacy Manager

Position: Communications and Digital Advocacy Manager
Reports To: Director of Communications and Advocacy
Category: Mid-Level, Full Time
Salary Range: $56,000 – $62,000

About the Role:  The Communications and Digital Advocacy Manager will work closely with the Director of Communications and Advocacy to develop and implement communications and digital advocacy strategies, including website, blog, and a variety of social media platforms. This role coordinates HC One’s presence in traditional media, supporting a wide range of reproductive justice and birth equity programs and advocacy initiatives. The ideal candidate for this position is a great storyteller, passionate about health equity, reproductive/racial justice, comfortable with remote work, and a marketing or digital communications professional. Experience with graphic design/illustration capabilities are also an asset for this role. 

NJ Doula Learning Collaborative Project Coordinator

Position: NJ DLC Project Coordinator
Reports To: Director of Project Management
Category: Entry Level
Salary Range: $42,000 – $48,000

About the Role:  The NJ DLC Project Coordinator will work with the HC One-NJ DLC project team to coordinate project objectives, including: advisory board facilitation, partner coordination, education and promotion of the DLC. This is a new position and will be hired at grant funding. The ideal candidate for this position is a New Jersey- based public health professional with experience in project management, intake coordination, and direct client referrals.

Interested in one of our job openings and joining the HC One team? Submit all of the required documents to the email listed in each job description. Please include the position title in the subject line. Applications are accepted until the stated application deadline, or until the position has been filled.

Check out our job openings page for more details!

HealthConnect One Annual Report 2021

We’re proud to release our 2021 Annual Report, Planting Seeds for Future Generations.

“We are like a community garden; we support birth workers to empower birthing people and co-create with other organizations. We ensure that the garden for Black, Brown and Indigenous communities is thriving in a healthy and safe environment for future generations.”

This year’s theme, Planting Seeds for Future Generations, has allowed us to take a moment to reflect on the seeds we have planted across the nation. For 35 years, HealthConnect One has trained community leaders, ensured that birth workers’ voices are lifted and heard, and created a national network of birth equity leaders.

This year we’ve been able to plant the following seeds:

  • Trained community-based doulas to foster thriving and sustainable communities
  • Served as a funding intermediary for community-led work through resource mobilization and community convening 
  • Remained a resource for parents and families during the pandemic through virtual training and meetings
  • Built relationships with other organizations & cultivated new skills by co-creating with our networks
  • Advocated & Fought for Fair Pay for Birth Workers with birth equity leaders across the country 

Learn more about how we impacted birthing families in 2021, download and share our annual report here.

Build Back Better Passes the House!

Earlier this month, the Biden Administration made history by signing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act! The Bill, which will provide historic investment in our transportation, broadband, and infrastructure, is set to accelerate our economic recovery. While this is fantastic news, it’s time for Congress to rise to the occasion again and prove that they can still pass legislation that will make a real difference across this country. Working and middle-class families in America will benefit from the Build Back Better Act’s social policies that will make health care more affordable.

The Build Back Better Act, a historic legislation just passed the House of Representatives earlier today. This Bill will radically improve the lives of millions of Americans once it becomes law. The Bill includes landmark investments that will improve maternal and child health and advance equity, including critical provisions that:

→ Ensure new mothers have access to comprehensive health care services during the postpartum period by making 12-month postpartum coverage mandatory in Medicaid and CHIP.
→ Make historic investments to end the maternal health crisis by incorporating and providing funding for critical provisions of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act.
→ Address churn and prevent eligible children from becoming disenrolled from coverage by requiring 12-month continuous eligibility for children insured by Medicaid and CHIP.
→ Provide a new option that allows states to extend income eligibility for CHIP up to 300% FPL.
→ Create a new Maternal Health Home state option in Medicaid to improve care coordination for pregnant and postpartum mothers.
→ Make the CHIP program permanent.
→ Extend critical poverty reduction efforts by providing a one-year extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit and making it permanent.

We’re looking to Senate to go BOLD, pass this bill, and move it to the President’s desk. We urge advocates to call the U.S Senator Switchboard (202) 224-3121 and ask your Senators to say ‘YES’ to Build Back Better Act.

Visit our Take Action center for a detailed script for when you call your Senator!

For questions, please contact HealthConnect One’s Director of Advocacy, Zainab ‘Zee’ Sulaiman.

Undoing Racism to Improve Birth Outcomes in Rochester

Last week, HealthConnect One joined Finger Lakes Performing Provider System, Finger Lakes Community Health, and the Healthy Baby Network launched the Rochester Doula Hub. This timely collaboration will provide culturally reflective community-based doula support to improve Black birth outcomes in Rochester.

Health inequities have long been tied to racism, poverty, physical environment, and stress, all outcomes linked to racism. Recently published data links racism, specifically redlining practices, to higher preterm births in Rochester, NY. These policies, which were in effect until the 1960s, resulted in decades of community disinvestment and high poverty in inner-city neighborhoods while denying Rochester residents the ability to build intergenerational wealth through homeownership.

Researchers identified preterm births (less than 37 weeks) by zip code, demographic characteristics of individuals, including race, and community survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau on income, poverty, and educational attainment. 

Nearly 13% of preterm births occurred in zip-codes labeled “hazardous” compared to 7.55% in areas marked “best” or “still desirable.” Birthing people who resided in “hazardous” areas also had a higher risk for other maternal complications, such as pregnancy-related hypertension, neonatal complications, and neonatal intensive care unit admission.

HealthConnect One’s partnership to co-develop the Black Doula Collaborative comes off the heals of our community-based doula model’s astounding results for nearly three decades. The culturally reflective, community-rooted support provided by doulas trained through our model will improve birth outcomes in Rochester, especially for Black babies and birthing people experiencing racism and adverse effects. 

This week, HealthConnect One team members will engage with doulas from Rochester utilizing HealthConnect One’s proven “train the trainer” model. The program, which will be based at Healthy Baby Network and Finger Lakes Community Health, will hire, onboard, and train doulas, including 16 community-based training sessions. FLPPS will fund six full-time equivalent doulas, which will serve 250 Black and Brown women. The program will develop referral pathways with healthcare systems and federally qualified health centers to facilitate care.

Download the full one-pager here. For questions, please reach out to info@healthconnectone.org

Two black female friends with stroller, walking and chatting.

Take Action for Birthing Families

Congress will soon decide on a social infrastructure legislative package that could be transformative for birthing families, including critical Momnibus investments and establishing the first national paid family & medical leave insurance program!

Black Maternal Health

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 builds on existing maternal health legislation, like policies to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, with 12 bills to comprehensively address every dimension of America’s maternal health crisis. 

Last month, crucial investments in Black maternal health from the Momnibus were included in the Build Back Better Act. HealthConnect One is thrilled to see maternal health equity prioritized in this package, however there is still work to do until these provisions, in their entirety, are passed.

As outlined in a report from the Century Foundation, these four investments from the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, out of many, will improve Black Maternal health should lawmakers pass the Build Back Better Act.

  • Build Back Better could save mothers’ lives by providing funding for postpartum Medicaid to a total of 1,170,000 uninsured new mothers over ten years
  • 92,000 nurses and perinatal nursing students would receive funding for loans, scholarships, and programmatic support over ten years.
  • 30,000 doulas would receive funding for loans, scholarships, and programmatic support over ten years.
  • 46,000 maternal mental health and substance abuse professionals would receive loans, scholarships, and programmatic support, over ten years.

It is imperative that congress prioritizes these maternal health investments that mothers, babies, and birthing families desperately need. 

Call your legislators to pass the Build Back Better Act with these investments! – Click Here

Call your Congressmembers’ offices! Congressional staffers are required to tally phone calls right away. You can leave their office a voicemail if no one answer’s the call.

Follow these steps:

  • Call the U.S. House of Representatives Switchboard: (202)-225-3121 or the (202) 224-3091 (TTY). Ask to be connected to your Senators or Representative.
  • You can find your Senators’ contact forms at senate.gov and your Representative’s contact form at house.gov/representatives.
  • You can find your Members’ phone numbers, Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and other contact information on Contacting Congress.

When you call, use this script:

Hi, my name is (NAME), and I’m from (CITY, STATE).

I am calling to urge you to vote to pass the Build Back Better Act. This legislation includes historic investments in maternal health by including ALL provisions from the Black Maternal Health #Momnibus and mandated permanent extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months.These investments will address system-level failures by providing policy solutions that will allow Black birthing people and their babies to thrive.

This issue is of particular importance to me because (briefly describe why this is important to you).

Thank you for your time and for your leadership in supporting working families across America. I hope I can count on you to prioritize the health of mothers, birthing people and their babes.

(Your name)

* [IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL OR EMAILING: please leave your full street address and zip code. This will ensure your call or email is tallied]

Tweet at your legislators and tell them the importance of these investment! – Click Here

  • It’s time for congress to pass ALL #Momnibus provisions in the #BuildBackBetter act. These investments will address system-level failures by providing policy solutions that will allow Black birthing people and their babies to thrive.
  • Community-based organizations like @HealthConnctOne and its partners are at the frontlines of the maternal health crisis by ensuring birthing families have the culturally-reflective support they need to have a positive birth experience. (1/2)
    The #Momnibus enables these organizations to directly serve the multifaceted needs of pregnant and postpartum people in their community. (2/2) 
  • Racial justice requires investments in maternal health. To rectify centuries of disenfranchisement, we need to continue demanding justice for moms and ensure that ALL of the #Momnibus provisions are prioritized in the Build Back Better legislative package. 
  • The evidence is clear — doula care is associated with positive outcomes for birthing families. Funding from the #BuildBackBetter act would provide increased access to doula services for Black families, for whom doula care is often out of reach.
  • The #Momnibus provisions in the #BuildBackBetter package will ensure that Black birthing people can experience joyful pregnancy and birth.
  • Black birthing people need the Biden adminsitration and leaders in congress to go bold and pass the #BuildBackBetter Act with ALL investments from the #Momnibus and the permanent extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months.

Follow @HealthConnectOne on Twitter and be sure to tag us in your posts!

We won’t stop working until all provisions are passed. It’s time to build on this momentum and continue working to eliminate maternal health disparities by passing the Build Back Better Act with all maternal health provisions included.

Paid Family Leave

In one of the most industrialized nations in the world, only 15 percent of all working people in the have access to paid leave through their employers. The Build Back Better Act social infrastructure package could change that. 

Sick family members, a new baby or child placement, an aging parent, are planned and sometimes sudden occurrences for everyday people across America. Working families deserve to know they do not have to sacrifice financial income or job security.  The United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t guarantee paid leave of any kind. It’s time for our legislators to create a safety net that will allow working people to remain active parts of their families and the economy at the same time. 

Our leaders are negotiating the details and they need to hear your voice about what families need.

The paid leave plan in the Build Back Better package will:

  • Ensure the benefit is available to all of America’s families;
  • Provide paid time off (ideally 12 weeks);
  • Provide robust wage replacement; and
  • Cover the whole range of babies’ and families’ needs for time off.

Become an advocate and keep the pressure on our leaders to make sure the new paid leave program provision in the Build Back Better Act would reach all babies and families! call on Congress to finally pass paid leave for all working families. 

Take Action Today – Click Here

Contact Congress via a phone call or email and ask them to support the bill and it’s full recommendations.
(via Think Babies)

Use the script below:

  • Hello, my name is (xxx) and I am your constituent living in (state your city/town).
  • I’m calling today to urge your support the Build Back Better Act which will establishes a paid family and medical leave program that will meet the needs of working families across America
  • This paid family and medical leave program will give families the opportunity to stay connected with their family and remain in the work economy. Paid leave gives families the time they need to bond with and care for their infants and care for loved ones without sacrificing their financial security. 
  • This issue is of particular importance to me because (briefly describe why this is important to you).
  • Thank you for your time and for your leadership in supporting working families across America. 

It’s important that our elected officials hear from you about the life-saving relief that a comprehensive paid leave program can have on maternal and child health outcomes and overall well being of families.  

Our country cannot afford to wait to address the challenges facing Black and Brown birthing people, and failing to invest in these issues risks not only incurring painful economic and social costs, but lives across America.

"Relcaiming latinx birth traditions"

Reclaiming Latinx Birth Traditions

–> En Español <–

Hi! I’m Cassie, a Mexican mom and doula from Chicago! I have one adventurous toddler I keep close to me. We are inseparable, and our bond came right away. Here’s a little bit about our journey together…

I am as determined as my toddler. When I decided I wanted to have an unmedicated birth, my family and friends seemed shocked.

After doing a lot of reading and research, I thought, “My grandmother had 6 children. I can handle this one single birth.” I considered the women who came before me and their strength. I thought of other mothers who are deemed “crazy loca” for wanting an unmedicated labor. So I decided to surround myself with positive birth stories.

First, I switched to Midwifery care. Meanwhile, morning sickness was hitting me hard for a long period of time. I decided to try natural remedies, such as tea and vitamins. By month 6, I was starting to feel more like myself. BUT it was my 6th month of pregnancy—I had a lot of catching up to do on my path to a “natural” birth.

I took a childbirth education class, found a birth doula, and began reading up on comfort techniques. I was drawn to the notion of moving throughout labor and watched videos of moms dancing to salsa in the early stages. Though my salsa moves never made an appearance at the hospital, I found comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone in my dreams of a natural birth plan.

The time I spent preparing for birth was time I took for myself. It was time I needed to reclaim my confidence, review resources, and examine the evidence based information I had available to me. This time is absolutely essential to us as Latinx birthing families.

New moms need an unconditionally supportive community to bolster the strengths and information they already carry. I’ve seen the power of a group of women who tend to a mother’s fears, worries, and overall questions. It can instill confidence that carries the mother through the difficult moments that come with motherhood. We can and should preserve these cultural traditions by being physically and emotionally present for our hermanas. Our support prenatally, during labor, and during the “cuarentena,” gives power to the mother’s voice.

Looking back, as a mother and a birth doula, I am proud. I threw myself deeply into the unknown and searched for the information I needed. Reclaiming traditions—natural remedies, prenatal and labor support from other women, and even using a rebozo to help lift my belly at the end of pregnancy—reconnected me to what I wanted but couldn’t describe: a strong connection with my roots that had been there all along.

* * * * *

Where to find me:
www.loveyourdoula.org  /  Facebook  /  Instagram

Affiliations:
Healthy Families at Advocate Illinois Masonic (tel: 773.296.5943)
Chicago Latina Moms
Chicago Volunteer Doulas

* * * * *

ARTWORK by Cameron Light

You can follow Cameron on Instagram as @stellar.bear or on Facebook as Stellarbear. To purchase any current work, commission a new piece, or to find out more about Cameron’s new set of affirmation cards (which this picture is a part of), please feel free to contact Cameron through social media or by email at enlightenedcam@gmail.com.

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Editor’s Note: Thank you, Cassie, for sharing your perspective as part of the Birth Equity Leadership Academy‘s 2018 Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month Series, “Reclaiming our Traditions on Breastfeeding and Birth / Reclamando Nuestras Tradiciones Sobre La Lactancia y El Parto.”

We’re Hiring for two Coordinator Positions

Our team is growing and we are hiring for two new positions! We are seeking individuals with passion/and or experience working on birth/reproductive justice or issues related to racial justice or other complex issues in a social justice context.

Business Development Coordinator – CLOSED

Position: Trainer/Business Development Coordinator
Reports To: Director of Business Development and Expansion
Category: Entry Level
Salary Range: $43,000 – $50,000

About the Role:  The HealthConnect One, (HC One) Trainer/Business Development Coordinator will work with the HC One program staff and leadership to coordinate resources, develop training materials, facilitate the breastfeeding peer counselor and community-based doula training. Assist in planning, outreach, and implementation to ensure set program direction that meets HC One’s vision.

Learning Management System Coordinator – CLOSED

Position: Trainer/Learning Management System Coordinator
Reports To: Director of Training and Curriculum
Category: Entry Level
Salary Range: $43,000 – $50,000

About the Role:  The HealthConnect One, (HC One) Trainer/LMS Coordinator will work with the HC One program staff and leadership to coordinate resources, develop training materials, facilitate the breastfeeding peer counselor and community-based doula training. Assist in planning, outreach, and implementation to ensure set program direction that meets HC One’s vision.

Interested in one of our job openings and joining the HC One team? Submit all of the required documents stated in the job description to jobs@healthconnectone.org listed. Please include the position title in the subject line. Applications are accepted until the stated application deadline, or until the position has been filled.

Check out our job openings page for more details!

HC One Supports Postpartum Medicaid Extension in House COVID Bill

Chicago – Last night the House Energy and Commerce Committee released the legislative text for its COVID-19 relief legislation, which includes a provision to support state efforts to extend Medicaid coverage in the postpartum period. 

Dr. Twylla Dillon, HealthConnect One Executive Director, released the following statement in support of this critical provision to the Energy and Commerce Committee Covid-19 Relief Legislation:

“In this critical pandemic moment, long-standing health inequities in birth experiences in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities put women, birthing people, and babies center stage. These inequities do not only present a public health issue for our communities. Instead, they and other health inequities are alerting us to the inevitable challenges to control COVID-19. We must address inequities in birth, COVID-19, and other health issues. 

“State maternal mortality review committees across the country have identified Medicaid extension in the postpartum period as a foundational policy for addressing our nation’s maternal mortality crisis. If enacted, the postpartum Medicaid extension provision in the COVID-19 relief legislation will be a significant down payment on Congress’ continued efforts to end preventable maternal death and eliminate racial inequities in maternal health outcomes. The postpartum Medicaid policy included in the COVID-19 bill is an important and necessary step towards this goal.” 

The postpartum Medicaid extension provision included in the E&C bill would:

  • Provide an option for states to extend Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum, which will streamline state efforts to achieve this policy. We’ll need to continue to advocate for this policy to be mandatory for states with sufficient federal matching funds;
  • Require full Medicaid benefits 
  • Apply to all postpartum individuals with Medicaid coverage regardless of eligibility pathway;
  • Apply to all postpartum individuals with Medicaid coverage regardless of health condition Apply to all postpartum individuals with CHIP coverage in those states that extend coverage to pregnant individuals under CHIP;
  • Not include additional federal matching funds. A significant FMAP bump is something we’ll need to continue to advocate for.
  • Sunset after 5 years. We’ll need to continue to advocate for a permanent policy for Medicaid extension to 12 months postpartum.

HealthConnect One is the national leader in advancing equitable, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and early parenting. HealthConnect One is committed to collaborating with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to ensure safe and healthy pregnancies and births, thriving babies and families, and successful early parenting and nutrition.

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Kristian Ramos

Autonomy Strategies