When Doulas Use Equity as Their Secret Sauce, You Have A Recipe for Life
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Successful and impactful birth/pregnancy practitioners need knowledge and skills to engage in equitable practices with populations that experience poverty, immigrant populations, and people of color. There are avoidable and unjust inequities in access to healthcare, quality of care, childbirth, and birth outcomes based on social identities such as race, immigration status, and class. According to the CDC, black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in womens health. A black woman is 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease than a white woman, 71 percent more likely to perish from cervical cancer, but 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition. About one in five black and Hispanic women report poor treatment from hospital staff due to race, ethnicity, cultural background, or language. Compared with 8% of white mothers, 21% of black mothers and 19% of Hispanic mothers report experiencing poor treatment while hospitalized to give birth. These data reflect social, economic, institutional, and systemic inequities that require immediate action on the part of birth/pregnancy practitioners. That action starts with education about and a commitment to health equity.
Natalie S. Burke is a nationally-known speaker, strategist, master facilitator, and public health leader. As President and CEO of CommonHealth ACTION she works to develop people and organizations to produce health through equitable policies, programs, and practices.
Natalie believes that to alter our collective health destiny, we must change our language; challenge deeply held beliefs about equity in our society, and accept the role we each play in the production of the public’s health.
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