Inspiring birth work during COVID-19 by BELA Leaders

Every Baby Our Baby has been the focus of HealthConnect One’s annual fundraising event for several years. This year we are going virtual with the event and one reason is to hold up the inspiring examples of work by Birth Equity Leadership Academy leaders. They exemplify and help power a growing movement for birth equity.

Here are a few examples of BELA leaders’ public contributions during COVID-19 from the past few weeks:

Cassie Calderone, Chicago, IL 
BELA leader and birth/postpartum doula Cassie Calderone returned to work from her own maternity leave in late March, just a week after the city’s shelter-in-place order went into effect. She was featured in the Chicago Reader’s article A Push for More Options. 

Nicole Marie White, Detroit, MI 
BELA leader and doula Nicole Marie White was a featured guest on the Good Birth for All podcast discussing safety and rights in the current moment with Elephant Circle co-founder Indra Lusero May 15. More about Nicole is on her organization’s website.

Jacqueline Lambert, Indianola, MS
BELA leader and WIC peer counselor Jacqueline Lambert’s organization The Baby Cafe was featured on DeltaNews.tv in a segment called Local Organization Helping Moms During Pandemic. The organization has now gone virtual and is helping moms and their families through their healthy pregnancy program.

Quatia Osorio, Providence, RI 
BELA leader and doula Quatia Osorio was featured in a Providence Journal article, Women & Infants Hospital makes room for doulas’ helping hands, hearts. Osorio, who was in the hospital for the birth of client Bria Haynes’ daughter, shared how important support people are during birth. You can read more about her journey to be a doula on her organization’s site.

To-Wen Tseng, San Diego, CA 
BELA leader and free-lance writer To-Wen Tseng shared her “Quick COVID-19 Guide for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers” on her own blog, I’d Rather Be Breastfeeding. Tseng, based in San Diego, is the writer who became a breastfeeding advocate and whose own story we shared on our website last year. Read To-wen’s story on our site.

We will continue to share examples of BELA leaders’ public contributions during COVID-19 as they come in. In the meantime, we hope you will join us in celebrating our BELA leaders and faculty who are on the frontlines supporting moms, babies, and families. Learn more…

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Gratis! Seminario web 6/26 – Apoyando a Familias Durante COVID-19 y Emergencias

A medida que continuamos navegando con COVID-19 (Corona Virus), nuestras familias y comunidades durante el embarazo y despues aún necesitan apoyo. El seminario web estará dirigido por Alimentación Segura Infantil (ASI) en Puerto Rico (PR). Compartirán su enfoque para apoyar a las familias durante emergencias y durante esta pandemia de salud pública.

ASI continúa apoyando a las familias de manera efectiva durante estos tiempos difíciles y centra un enfoque de líderes comunitarios. ASI ha estado brindando apoyo entre líderes de confianza y arraigado en la comunidad durante más de 2 años y medio. Se enfocan en apoyar a las familias desde el nacimiento hasta el posparto. ASI también compartirá en este seminario web su aprendizaje de la preparación para emergencias y cómo continuar apoyando a las familias de manera efectiva durante estos tiempos difíciles.

Espacio limitado, regístrese hoy

ASI es una organización sin fines de lucro que trabaja para la alimentación segura de infantes y niñxs pequeñxs. También tienen como meta capacitar a líderes comunitarixs como especialistas en lactancia y alimentación segura. ASI se enfoca en la capacitación de los miembros de la comunidad para convertirse en especialistas en lactancia y alimentación infantil durante emergencias y tiempos de estabilidad. ASI es un líder nacional en equidad alimentaria en lactancia, se organizan para cuestiones de equidad de embarazo, parto y posparto en PR y brindan servicio directo a las familias.

Este seminario web discutirá lo siguiente:

La importancia de la continuidad del apoyo de consejeras de lactancia de confianza en la comunidad durante una pandemia y emergencias

Importancia del apoyo basado en la comunidad para familias durante el embarazo, parto, posparto y la lactancia

Impacto de COVID-19 y situaciones de emergencia en las familias embarazadas, parto, y lactancia

Inspirado para y por líderes de color y Latinx

Espacio limitado, regístrese hoy

New webinar: 6/25 – Supporting Families During COVID-19 and Emergencies

As we continue to navigate COVID-19 our birthing families and communities still need support. The webinar will be led by Alimentación Segura Infantil (ASI) in Puerto Rico (PR). They will share their approach to supporting families during emergencies and this public health pandemic. ASI continues to support families effectively in PR during these challenging times and centers a grassroots peer-to-peer approach.

ASI has been providing peer support that is trusted and rooted in the community for over 2 ½ years. They focus on supporting families from birth through the postpartum period. ASI will also share in this webinar their learning from emergency preparedness and how to continue to support families effectively during these challenging times.

Space is limited, register today! 

ASI is a nonprofit organization that works for food security for infants and young children, addressing the systemic barriers which affect equitable access before, during, and after emergency situations. We focus on training community members to become specialists in lactation and infant feeding during emergencies and times of stability. ASI is a national leader in first food equity, they organize for birth equity issues in PR and provide direct service to families.

This webinar will discuss the following:

Importance of continuity of support from trusted peers in the community during pandemic and emergencies

Importance of community-rooted based support for birthing parents and lactating parents

Impact of COVID-19 and emergency situations on lactation and birthing families

Inspiration for and by Leaders of Color and Latinx

Space is limited, register today! 

Call your Senator today: Tell them to say YES to funding for home visiting

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: info@healthconnectone.org

Thank you for your support and advocacy of birthing families!

The HealthConnect One team

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Birthing Families Need Your Support – Stories from Across the U.S.

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. Moms and babies of color, particularly in Black and Indigenous families, are vulnerable to adverse birth outcomes due to generations of disinvestment in the health of communities of color. Now, more than ever, birthing families need support – regardless of immigration status.

Over the past two months, we asked doulas, peer counselors and other community health workers what was happening in their communities, and now we have compiled them in the attached report. These stories highlight the extreme problems faced by birthing communities during this pandemic. You will read how families are:

  • Experiencing food insecurity, housing insecurity, job loss and having problems accessing formula and diapers.
  • Fearful of the possibility that mothers may be forced to give birth without a partner or the doulas they made birthing plans with.
  • Lacking or experiencing limited access to pre and postnatal care.
  • Afraid to seek services if they are immigrants, particularly if they are undocumented.

We’re glad to be able to share this just ahead of Mother’s Day. In this story collection you will hear voices from Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and Texas. We hope you will share this storybook widely, including with elected officials, to help them in their policy decisions.

This publication is available in English and Spanish. 

Download Birthing Families Need Your Support Storybook

Introducing Our New Birth Equity Action Network

Dear friend,

Pregnant women are facing isolation at a time when family and community support is so important. Birthing families need more support than ever, particularly Black and Indigenous women who have been experiencing some of the most adverse birth outcomes in the world.

Building on the success of the Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA) over the past three years, we are inaugurating the Birth Equity Action Network. The Birth Equity Action Network will incorporate all that we learned from the 125 BELA members’ expertise as community leaders in birth equity and develop advocacy action steps to further elevate community voices.

We are inviting you to join our movement today, to ensure birthing families are fully supported as part of our nation’s COVID-19 planning.

Here are ways you can take action today to inform and build our birth equity agenda:

1. Help us grow the network by posting the social media posts below:

a. Facebook: https://bit.ly/3ce7k4s
b. Twitter: https://bit.ly/3emg5vu

2. We’re gathering stories about the challenges birthing families are experiencing and to find out what resources are needed. Share your COVID-19 story and encourage others to share as well. Below are social media posts for easy sharing.

a. Facebook: https://bit.ly/3a94Ym3
b. Twitter: https://bit.ly/3ch2nYQ

Your voice and advocacy are so important in advocating for moms, babies and families, and the doulas, community health workers and peer counselors who are an essential part of the birthing experience.

With thanks from the HealthConnect One team!

P.S. Do you have questions, or have feedback that you would like to share with us?

Email us at:kgurnah@healthconnectone.org