Month: April 2018

Draft House Farm Bill Will Harm Families and Children

Today the House Agriculture Committee will meet to consider H.R.2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018—otherwise known as the Farm Bill. What members of Congress should consider is the impact this bill will have on America’s young children and their families.

The draft farm bill proposes dramatic structural changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that will increase food insecurity among low-income families. By proposing major changes in eligibility and mandating that states impose redundant and burdensome administrative requirements for SNAP participation, millions of working families will suffer from a loss or reduction of benefits. Simply put, these changes will mean more children in America will go hungry.

1,000 Days strongly opposes these policy changes that make it more difficult for children and their families to get the food they need to thrive. Access to nutritious food during pregnancy and in the earliest years of a child’s life has lifelong impacts on their health and development. For very young children, whose brains and bodies depend on good nutrition, food plays an especially important role in helping children grow, learn and reach their full potential. SNAP is proven to improve the health and economic security of children, their families and their communities. Instead of making it more difficult for families to thrive, Congress should be working to make it easier for all Americans to access and afford healthy foods.

Society is Failing Black Moms and We Must Do Better

Women’s health before, during, and after pregnancy matters. And it matters for ALL women.

Yet deep disparities persist in the United States when it comes to maternal health. Black mothers in the U.S. are at least 3 to 4 times more likely to die than white mothers, with some areas of the country experiencing even bigger disparities. When comparing women with the same health conditions, the statistics are equally as shocking – Black women are two to three times more likely to die than white women.

As Black Maternal Health Week kicks off today, we must push to find the answers and solutions to address these unnecessary disparities.

In the U.S., women die of pregnancy-related causes – or have long-term health complications – for a variety of reasons, but a key underlying factor is lack of access to high-quality, comprehensive health care. Pregnant women and new moms have specific health needs that require the guidance of a health care provider; yet not all women have equal access to providers, hospitals, and pre- and post-natal care. Women of color in particular face increased barriers to receiving the care they need.

Racism and implicit bias play a significant role in the health outcomes of pregnant women of color and their families. It impacts their interactions with health care providers, institutions, and systems, affecting the quality of care they receive. 1,000 Days is exploring the causes and consequences of these disparities, relying on the expertise of groups like Black Mamas Matter Alliance.

Unpacking the Maternal Health Crisis

1,000 Days recently convened a panel of experts for a discussion about disparities in maternal health in the United States at Take Root: Red State Perspective on Reproductive Justice, an annual conference in Norman, Oklahoma. The panelists included leaders in the field of maternal health, including:

  • Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative
  • Elizabeth Dawes Gay, steering committee member of Black Mamas Matter Alliance
  • Takeallah Rivera, full spectrum doula and reproductive justice advocate
  • Kimberly Seals Allers, award-winning journalist and a leading commentator on motherhood and breastfeeding issues

The conversation focused how structural racism, lack of access to quality care, and poor nutrition impact health outcomes for pregnant women of color and their families. We also discussed what can be done to reverse these troubling trends, such as ensuring increased access to comprehensive health care and supporting initiatives that promote medical education and training for Black midwives, doulas, ob-gyns, and maternal fetal medicine specialists.

Finding the Way Forward

We cannot accept disparities in maternal health. This is entirely preventable, and as a first step, we must listen to Black moms directly and invest time and resources in Black-led initiatives and programs that amplify the diverse voices of women and children.

Black Maternal Health Week is a great place to start. Today Black Maternal Health Week kicks off to increase attention on the issues facing Black women and mothers, and to amplify the voices of black moms themselves. You can join the conversation online through the hashtag #BMHW18.

Additional Resources

For more information about Black Maternal Health Week check out the resources from the Black Mamas Matter Alliance.

For more information about Black maternal and infant mortality trends and solutions, read Exploring African Americans’ High Maternal and Infant Death Rates by Jamila Taylor and Cristina Novoa at the Center for American Progress.

We asked “What if…” and you answered…

Last month – in honor of National Nutrition Month – 1,000 Days hosted its annual #Marchis4Nutrition campaign to amplify the critical role the world’s mothers play in nourishing the next generation. All month long, we envisioned a world in which moms have the support they need to give their children a healthy start to life. And throughout the month, our partners and our community answered the simple question – “What if…”

Here are just a few examples of what we heard:

What if moms had the support they need to reach their breastfeeding goals?
A world in which women receive support to breastfeed is a world with less illness and disease.

  • “They wouldn’t have to feed their children in bathroom stalls.”
    – 1,000 Days Facebook Community Member
  • “All of the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding could be achieved by the majority of moms, and the lifelong benefits to them and their children could be realized, reducing risk of chronic diseases.”
    – Lori Bechard, RDN
  • “They wouldn’t worry about keeping their jobs to feed their babies if they’re pumping.”
    – 1,000 Days Facebook Community Member
  • “I thought that formula was better than my own breast milk because I had very limited knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding – and also because of marketing by the formula companies.”
    – Ms. La Min. Read more of her story about conquering breastfeeding myths in Myanmar.

What if moms had access to quality and comprehensive health care?
A world in which moms have access to quality and comprehensive healthcare is one where every child and mother survives and thrives.

  • “They wouldn’t be dying from childbirth.”
    – 1,000 Days Facebook Community Member
  • “During my pregnancy I attended the health center to receive prenatal care where I was provided with iron and folic acid which I consumed with full knowledge of its importance.”
    – Vitalina de Leon Santos. Read about her work bringing healthcare to her community.
  • “Fewer sick days for untreated conditions. More productivity. Fewer women in poverty because they’re able to get healthy so they are able to work.”
    – 1,000 Days Facebook Community Member

What if moms had access to affordable, safe and nutritious foods?
A world in which moms have access to affordable, safe and nutritious foods would result in healthier moms, healthier babies and better birth outcomes.

  • “The world would have a stronger, healthier and more innovative population.”
    – 1,000 Days Facebook Community Member
  • “Parents should be focused on getting the most nutritious food for their child. They should not have to worry about contaminants such as lead, inorganic arsenic, perchlorate and phthalates in their children’s food.”
    – Tom Neltner, Chemicals Policy Director for Environmental Defense Fund
  • “I feel very satisfied with the work I do, because thanks to the information and training I receive, I have been able to support other people, especially pregnant women, to eat properly.”
    – Leonor García Quino. Read about how she uses her community garden and midwife skills to help women in her town.

What if moms had the support of programs and policies to ensure their children get a healthy start?
A world in which moms have the support of policies and programs that prioritize the health and nutrition of moms and babies would create positive societal impacts.

  • “Kids would do better in school, at home and in life.”
    – 1,000 Days Facebook Community Member
  • “My cooking style has also changed because I have realized the importance of nutrition to children from the training.”
    – Aye Zar Zar Soe. Learn more about this mother in Myanmar’s journey discovering how to nourish herself and her children.
  • “At WIC, moms get pre-natal health care referrals and the breastfeeding support they need; babies and young children get pediatric and immunization referrals; parents and grandparents are empowered with nutrition tools and resources to make the healthy choices for their children.”
    – Douglas A. Greenaway, President & CEO, National WIC Association

What’s clear is that ALL moms need support to nourish themselves and their families in the first 1,000 days, because a world in which moms get the support they need is a world in which children and their families thrive and nations prosper. This is the world we are striving to help create. Thank YOU for joining us to make this a reality.