Perhaps the biggest structural challenge posed by COVID-19 is the strain that the pandemic is placing on healthcare systems.
The human costs, however, are much more significant – recent data has shown that Black, Indigenous, Black Latinx and Latinx (BIPOC) populations and poorer people have higher rates of infection and are more likely to die from COVID-19.
For birthing families in Puerto Rico this could mean less attention in an already over-burdened system, a heightened susceptibility to exposure and infection, and an increase in adverse maternal health outcomes. Any public health response to COVID-19 must include a focus on birth equity work and center the needs of birthing families that are facing the greatest hardship during this pandemic.
Key components of this brief include:
Disparities in outcomes pre Covid-19
Birthing during a pandemic
For more information on this topic, please send questions or comments to Khadija Gurnah, Director of Policy and Advocacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Supporting Families During COVID-19 and Emergencies” led by Lourdes Santaballa, Executive Director, Alimentación Segura Infantil (ASI) in Puerto Rico (PR) presented their approach to supporting families during emergencies and this public health pandemic.
“Apoyando a Familias Durante COVID-19 y Emergencias” presentado por Lourdes Santaballa, Directora Ejecutiva de, Alimentación Segura Infantil (ASI) en Puerto Rico (PR) compartió su enfoque para apoyar a las familias durante emergencias y durante esta pandemia de salud pública.
The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill that would provide $3 trillion to help and support our families, communities, and businesses in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a very important provision for home visiting: an additional $100 million in emergency funding that can be used for the care of birthing families, such as through community-based doula care.
Call your Senators today and let them know you want them to vote YES on the COVID-19 relief bill!
A phone call from you is one of the best ways to let your Senators know what their constituents are feeling about issues, and right now we have an important opportunity to make sure that doula care receives the funding it needs!
You can call today by following the steps below!
You can find the phone number for your Senators at this link: www.senate.gov.
You can also call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask them to connect you to the office of your Senator:
When you call:
1. Let them know you are a constituent.
2. Say that you are calling to ask your Senator to protect and support birthing families as part of their COVID-19 response
3. Let them know that you would like them to vote YES on the COVID-19 bill that will provide $100 million in additional funds for home visiting, which will include the following activities:
Training home visitors on virtual home visits and emergency preparedness and response planning for families
Providing technology to families to facilitate home visits
Providing emergency supplies to families, such as diapers, formula, non-perishable food, water, hand soap, and hand sanitizer
Providing prepaid debit cards to families to help them meet emergency needs
4. Thank them for their time and support of our families and communities
When you call your Senator’s office – we would love to know how the call went. Email us and update us on how it went at: email@example.com
Thank you for your support and advocacy of birthing families!
Interest from pregnant women in having home births have increased drastically since COVID-19 began. Despite this interest, many women are still going to hospitals to give birth. Doulas and the expectant moms they are supporting are facing new challenges in the birthing process. During this difficult time, doulas are working hard to take care of birthing moms and their families. Tikvah Wadley, who is a birth doula and leads HealthConnect One’s Community-Based Doula program, shares some tips she thinks are useful during COVID-19.
Tikvah’s Doula Tips:
Wash your hands.
Research online where you’re able to purchase your own personal protective equipment.
Keep your phone charger on hand because many hospitals are moving toward virtual support. This can drain your battery quickly and we don’t need your phone to die during pushing. 😊
Share supportive and sometimes humorous text messages with your clients.
Remember it’s not your fault if you’re not allowed to accompany her to the birth room.
Share your non-touch comfort measure skills with her during COVID-19.
Send virtual hugs.
Try to get some rest.
Be kind to yourself.
Don’t forget to ask if you can have a picture of the baby to help remind you of why you continue to do this work. 😊
Do you have any tips? Share them with us in the comment section of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add them to this post.
Additional resource: Our friends at DONA have also created a toolkit for doulas that you can find here.
Update: here’s a video of the webinar featuring Dalvery Blackwell presenting on African-American Breastfeeding Network’s birth work in Milwaukee during COVID-19.
COVID-19 virus has been deemed a public health pandemic by the World Health Organization in January. During this time, birthing communities of color and African-American families need continuity of support, affirmation and emotional support.
Due to this COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in birthing families feeling anxiety, fear, and stress who might not have access to traditional visits at home or hospital and breastfeeding peer counselor or community-based doula support. The webinar will be led by Dalvery Blackwell, Executive Director of the African-American Breastfeeding Network (AABN), who will share why this approach is imperative during this public health crisis. She will also share how AABN is continuing to support families effectively in Milwaukee during these challenging times.
The African-American Breastfeeding Network (AABN) has been providing peer support that is trusted and rooted in the community for over 10 years. They focus on supporting African-American families from birth through postpartum period.
Dalvery Blackwell, AABN’s Executive Director, will share why this approach is imperative during this public health crises. She will also share in this webinar how AABN is continuing to support families effectively in Milwaukee during these challenging times.
AABN is also a national leader in first food equity and advocate for African-American families. AABN also convenes and supports doulas in the community to support them in providing support for families.
This webinar will cover the following:
Discuss the importance of continuity of support from trusted peers in the community during this public health pandemic
Importance of community-rooted based support for birthing parents and breastfeeding parents
Adapting services due to COVID-19 and impact of public health pandemic on community
Feel hopeful and supported
Speaker Bio: Dalvery Blackwell is Executive Director and a co-founder of the African American Breastfeeding Network (AABN). She is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communications. AABN was established in 2008 and has been recognized by Essence Magazine, Associated Press, and CDC.
HealthConnect One’s Statement on Historic COVID-19 relief package
We commend the Senate for passing a historic COVID-19 relief package – $2 trillion aimed at helping Americans, hospitals and businesses deal with COVID-19.
HealthConnect One welcomes this investment in our nation, in particular the provisions that have vulnerable communities in mind. However, we encourage all leaders who will oversee stimulus funding spending to keep in mind the birthing families who are facing great hardship in these uncertain times.
As COVID-19 strains our healthcare infrastructure, pregnant women are facing severe isolation at a time where familial and community support is critical in birth outcomes. Our nation’s communities of color, particularly Black mothers, need extra support at this time when they already are experiencing some of the most adverse birth outcomes in the world.
We call on administrators and legislators to remember birthing families in their COVID-19 planning. We ask that they protect doula care – mothers need to know they will be able to rely on the doulas they’ve asked to help at their births, for example by including accommodations such as videoconferencing into a hospital for doula care.
We stand with birthing families, with doulas, community health workers and peer counselors who counsel and advocate for mothers, babies and families: Our safety and security and the welfare of our nation demand resources for our communities.
We want to connect with all of our community-based doulas, CHW’s and partner organizations to make sure you stay safe during this difficult time.
HealthConnect One is monitoring and following the recommendations of U.S. Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and Prevention and the Chicago Public Health Department. We will update this page as needed with resources and responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are maternal health recommendations from the World Health Organization:
“Infected mothers who are breastfeeding or practicing skin-to-skin should wear a medical mask, perform careful hand hygiene, and clean and disinfect all surfaces. Infected mothers should still be provided with breastfeeding support. If complications prevent the infected parent from breastfeeding, they should be encouraged and supported to express milk for the infant for someone else to feed to the baby or to maintain milk supply. There should be no promotion of breastmilk substitutes (formula) or pacifiers.”
“Mothers and infants should be enabled to remain together and practice skin-to-skin contact, kangaroo mother care and to remain together and to practice rooming-in throughout the day and night, especially immediately after birth during establishment of breastfeeding, whether they or their infants have suspected, probable, or confirmed COVID-19.”The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has also released the following statement regarding doulas and COVID-19:
“We support doulas as partners in care and acknowledge their ability to provide physical, emotional, and partner support to women. AWHONN opposes hospital policies that restrict the presence of a doula in the inpatient setting during an infectious disease outbreak.”
Below are resource links to organization providing updates and recommendations that might during this difficult time:
If you have additional resources for individuals and organizations supporting moms and their families please email email@example.com. These resources and responses are being collected on our website at http://www.healthconnectone.org/covid-19.
Lastly, if you or a loved one is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, call ahead before visiting your doctor. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.