On May 6, communities across the country including downtown LA gathered to march for changes to improve the health of mothers and birthing families in the United States. Femina Physical Therapy was there to join the national movement to address the maternal health crisis in our country. It was a wonderful day connecting with the community of concerned parents, community members, and health practitioners.
Together, we were able to call attention to issues affecting moms in Los Angeles.
Maternal mortality rates in the U.S. surpass those of any other industrialized nation and continue to rise, unlike any other industrialized nation. According to the CDC, there are considerable racial disparities in pregnancy-related mortality. Black women have a maternal death rate that is nearly four times the rate of white women. During 2011–2013, the pregnancy-related mortality ratios were–
- 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births for white women.
- 43.5 deaths per 100,000 live births for black women.
- 14.4 deaths per 100,000 live births for women of other races.
Over 50% of maternal deaths are considered preventable.
Perinatal and Postpartum Depression
It is estimated that 15-21 percent of pregnant women experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression or anxiety. The National Instituted of Mental Health warns that without treatment, “postpartum depression can last for months or years. In addition to affecting the mother’s health, it can interfere with her ability to connect with and care for her baby and may cause the baby to have problems with sleeping, eating, and behavior as he or she grows.” Without appropriate intervention, poor maternal mental health can have long term and adverse implications for mother, child and family.
Family Leave Policies
The United States is the only high-income country, and one of only eight countries in the world, that does not mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns.
Healthcare Inequity and Disparities
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recognized in 2015 that women who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups of color receive less access to prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal care. This lack of health care leads to worse outcomes for both mother and baby.
Racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding
Jones et al. (2015), reported that most groups of women of color have lower breastfeeding rates versus their white counterparts. Major barriers to breastfeeding reported by low-income minority women include lack of social, work, and cultural acceptance/support, language and literacy barriers, lack of maternal access to information that promotes and supports breastfeeding, acculturation, and lifestyle choices.
Lack of Access to Healthcare
There are major pockets of the US where individuals do not have access to needed maternity care services and/or do not have either Commercial or Medicaid insurance coverage. This lack of access extends from prenatal healthcare to postnatal services, including pelvic floor therapy after delivery.
High quality maternity care is essential for promoting maternal health and positive birth outcomes. Maternal mortality rates are three to four times higher for women who do not receive prenatal care, while access to early prenatal care has been shown to reduce rates of low birthweight.
About March for Moms
March for Moms was established to call attention to these issues affecting mothers, children, and families in the United. To learn more please visit the March for Moms website.