Celebrating Black Maternal Health Week
This year marks the fifth year anniversary of Black Maternal Health Week, celebrated this year from April 11 through April 17! The purpose of the campaign is to, “…amplify the voices of Black Mamas and center the values and traditions of the reproductive and birth justice movements. Activities during Black Maternal Health Week are rooted in human rights, reproductive justice, and birth justice frameworks.”
Wisconsin has inequitable birth outcomes for black and brown pregnant people and babies due to inequitable systems, not due to individuals or behaviors. The week is about dramatically shifting culture and these systems to improve outcomes for Black birthing people and their babies. In celebration of the week, we thought we would share a few services we offer to help support maternal and child health in our community:
Pregnancy & Postpartum Support
We support pregnant and birthing people through our perinatal home visiting programs. (Home visiting doesn’t have to happen where you live—we can meet you wherever it works best!) Our free personal nurses work with pregnant people to provide support and health education throughout their pregnancy and after the baby is born.
One nurse in the Nurse-Family Partnership Program says, “It is a privilege be allowed into a family and community of birthing people during a time of vulnerability and learn about their hopes, strengths and needs for support to have thriving families. My goal is to help families trust themselves, to know their worth and advocate for themselves and their children in systems that are not equitable or strength based. Home visiting services and community programs that improve family outcomes are important for ensuring we value each community member while we work to improve the systems.”
Learn more about Nurse-Family Partnership and Prenatal Care Coordination.
Maternal & Child Health Support
We receive funding from the state to meet the unique needs of Dane County children and families. In 2022, our team is focusing on health equity and perinatal mental health. One way we do this is by funding black-owned and operated community health organizations, including Harambee Village Doulas, African American Breastfeeding Alliance, and Roots4Change.
Fetal & Infant Mortality Review
The Dane County Fetal and Infant Mortality Review team is made up of doctors, midwives, doulas, nurses, social workers, nonprofit leaders, and researchers from a variety of agencies. Together, this team reviews fetal and infant deaths with the goal of developing recommendations and initiatives to reduce infant and fetal death. We organize and facilitate this group and abstract medical records for review. Learn more about Fetal & Infant Mortality Review.
Sexual & Reproductive Health Clinic
We believe that all Black birthing people who choose parenthood deserve a healthy pregnancy. One way we help achieve this goal is by offering screening and treatment for HIV and sexually transmitted infections. When some of these infections are left untreated, they can lead to infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects. We offer free or low cost testing and treatment of these common, often silent, infections, along with confidential partner notification to help prevent reinfections. With screening and treatment, we can help prevent these birth outcomes. With client input, including listening sessions and focus groups, we are working towards providing services that encompass the principles of reproductive justice. Learn more about the Sexual & Reproductive Health Clinic.
Well Woman Program
Finding breast cancer early is important for all women but may be even more important for Black women. Research shows that Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at an early age and, oftentimes, with cancers that are more aggressive. Most experts agree that mammograms for all Black women, unlike white women, should begin at age 40. Staff in our Well Woman Program are committed to helping people who are uninsured or underinsured get an annual breast/chest health check-up. We provide access to breast/chest exams and mammograms and can offer transportation if needed.
Dawn, our Well Woman Program Coordinator, says, “We are committed to ensuring that all young Black women in our community have access to the lifesaving check-ups they need.” Since 1991, the statewide Well Woman Program has provided thousands of free mammograms to eligible people throughout Wisconsin.
If you have a concern or notice something that is new to you about your breasts/chest, please see a doctor as soon as possible. If you are uninsured or underinsured, give us a call to learn more about the services and resources we offer, including access to a free mammogram. Learn more about the Well Woman Program.
Dane County Health Council & Connect Rx
Our agency is also proud to be part of the Dane County Health Council, which works to eliminate disparities in low birthweight births. As part of this effort, Connect Rx, is a new care coordination solution that connects Black birthing persons and their babies with healthcare and resources designed to address any unmet social needs. These needs might include access to food, financial assistance, housing, employment, and transportation. The program is designed to reduce the number of babies born with a low birthweight and improve birth outcomes. Connect Rx begins with a universal screening for potential unmet needs in healthcare appointment settings. Patients then work directly with a team of doulas, community health workers, and community health promoters to address needs identified through the screening. Read our joint news release for more details on this exciting new program.