In the 90s, the proverb “It Takes A Village to Raise a Child” took root and became a popular part of our collective culture.
More than 30 years later, the sentiment of that proverb remains true: it takes a concerted effort to ensure moms and babies have the access to care, education and support they need to not only survive but thrive – from conception, through childbirth, and when mother and child arrive at home.
At Lucina, we know this requires the power of community and partnership.
Our website states clearly – Working together for one goal: quality care for moms and babies.
For that reason, we’re happy to announce our partnership with First Candle, the national non-profit committed to ending sleep-related infant deaths through community-driven outreach and to combat the racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality.
Like us, First Candle is an organization committed to making sure families have all the information and support they need, especially addressing the disparities in prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal education available.
The Maternity Health Landscape
You’ve likely heard all or most of the troubling statistics surrounding childbirth in the U.S.
- Approximately 700 women die in the U.S. yearly because of pregnancy or its complications.
- Women of color have higher rates of pregnancy-related deaths, with Black and Hispanic women having a significantly higher risk for severe maternal morbidity, like preeclampsia, which is more common than maternal death.
- Disparities in pregnancy-related deaths for women of color increase by maternal age and persist across education levels.
- Black and Indigenous women are more likely to have certain birth risk factors contributing to infant mortality and long-term consequences for children’s physical and cognitive health. Infants born to women of color are at higher risk for mortality compared to those born to White women.
- In part, disparities in maternal and infant health reflect increased barriers to care for people of color. ‘
These challenges extend during the crucial ‘4th trimester’, the time after childbirth when infants are adjusting to life outside the womb and moms are adjusting to new parenthood.
- Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), which includes SIDS and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed (ASSB), remains the leading cause of death for babies from one month to one year of age.
- Due to SUID over 300 babies each month may not live to see their first birthdays. Infant mortality rates in the U.S. are also higher than in the 20 wealthiest nations.
- The mortality rate due to SIDS was 83% higher in non-Hispanic Black infants and 95% higher in Indigenous infants compared to non-Hispanic white infants (40.1 deaths per 100,000 live births)
Our partner in this effort– First Candle
First Candle was founded to help eliminate SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths through education while providing support for grieving families who have suffered a loss. They also focus on educating families on the importance of care and creating safe sleep environments for infants – working to extend care for families during the all-important 4th trimester.
In 2017 First Candle launched their program, Straight Talk for Infant Safe Sleep, a train-the-trainer program for hospitals and other health care providers to better understand the reasoning behind the safe sleep guidelines and explore how bias impacts the information a family receives.
On the successful heels of this program, First Candle has now piloted ‘Let’s Talk Community Chats’, a partnership initiative with local community organizations, doulas, midwives and lactation consultants. These care providers, along with dads and caregivers trained by First Candle, host monthly gatherings at churches, community centers, and retail establishments for families to discuss and receive guidance and support on safe sleep, breast feeding and other issues concerning mom and baby.
As a result of these efforts, First Candle has been awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for a three-year project to assess infant safe sleep policies surrounding structural racism. They will then develop community-based practices designed to reduce Black infant sleep-related mortality in the Atlanta, Georgia region.
Partnering with Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA), First Candle will form a multi-sector team of government officials, community advocates, and healthcare providers to review national and state policies and practices surrounding infant safe sleep that might adversely affect families of color. After they complete the review, First Candle and HMHBGA will create programs designed to improve maternal and infant care, increase safer infant sleep practices, and strengthen support for families during prenatal and postnatal periods.
The grant is awarded through the Office of Minority Health (OMH). It is part of a total award of more than $4.8 million in grants to 10 organizations under its Community-Driven Approaches to Address Factors Contributing to Structural Racism in Public Health initiative.
Next Steps – Lucina and First Candle
Given our shared focus on the health and well-being of mothers – and infants – in that critical 4th trimester, it only made sense for Lucina and First Candle to come together and agree to review and then address the challenge of maternal mortality from a holistic point of view.
As part of our partnership, we will look to First Candle to help better understand our target audience while sharing Lucina’s data and resources to help inform their key audiences.
We’re excited about our relationship with First Candle, and we look forward to unveiling the fruits of this partnership in support of mothers and babies across the country.