post natal birth trauma

October 21, 2007 § Leave a comment

sheila kitzinger on the differences between post partum depression and post traumatic syndrom after birth trauma

incite! conference

October 21, 2007 § Leave a comment

if you want to read about some of my insights from the incite! conference a couple of weeks ago…check out this link

black maternity studies show high infant mortality rates

October 21, 2007 § 2 Comments


By Molly M. Ginty – WeNews correspondent

(WOMENSENEWS)–Black women are twice as likely as white women to give birth prematurely and five times more likely to do so in Southern states such as Mississippi .

A black woman is 3.7 times more likely to die during pregnancy than a white woman and six times more likely to do so in some urban areas such as New York City .

Researchers at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found college-educated black women twice as likely as other women to deliver premature or underweight babies. Scientists found subjects’ birth outcomes resembled those of unemployed, uninsured white women with low education levels.

These are among the findings of five landmark reports released today by the Washington-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies that draw together existing data in a comprehensive review that calls for an end to the inequities.

The center concludes that African American babies–who are twice as likely as white infants to die before their first birthday–will have a better shot at life if the health inequities plaguing black mothers, such as less prenatal care and adequate nutrition, are corrected.

“The health disparities affecting African American women are nothing less than shocking, and we need to address the social causes behind them,” says Alexine Jackson, board president of the Black Women’s Agenda.

Stress, Racism, Poverty Implicated

The center’s 19-member Courage to Love: Infant Mortality Commission—funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and partnering with the UCLA School of Public Affairs and the University of Michigan’s NIH Roadmap Disparities Center–says the health problems of black women and black infants stem not just from inadequate medical care but from stress, racism, poverty and other social pressures.

Released during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference from Sept. 26 to 29, the reports also coincide with a meeting organized by the Joint Center and the Washington-based Black Women’s Agenda for 250 representatives of black women’s organizations in Washington, D.C. Attendees will discuss the reports and preview “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” an upcoming PBS television series that explores race and health.

In the five reports–one on breastfeeding, one on nutrition, two on infant mortality and one summarizing the others–commission members address the possible reasons for black women’s negative birth outcomes.

Only 75 percent of African American women have prenatal care compared to 89 percent of white women.

Black women are more likely than their peers to have hypertension and diabetes, which can leave the fetus undernourished.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics, in Elk Grove Village , Ill. , says breastfeeding protects against ear infections, diarrhea and other health problems among infants–and though it recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life–black women are 50 percent less likely to breastfeed than white or Hispanic women.

“Black women’s eating habits also play a role,” notes commission member Dr. Michael C. Lu, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Only 1 in 4 African American women meets the recommended daily allowance for calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E and 1 in 3 does not meet the RDA for iron and folate. Among low-income women, approximately 1 in 3 is anemic in the third trimester of pregnancy. And among low-income African American women, only 40 percent
enter pregnancy with normal weight, and less than 30 percent achieve ideal
weight gain during pregnancy.”

Economic, Social Factors

Joint Center authors stress not only health factors, but economic and social conditions.

Black women are more likely to work part time and to go without health benefits. They are 20 percent more likely to be uninsured, and three times more likely to live below the federal poverty line.

Research shows black women are under more stress than their peers, and that stress can compromise the immune system, disrupt the hormonal balance and threaten vascular function.

The reports also implicate racism.

For instance, authors note recent studies at Chicago ‘s Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University find African American women who deliver pre-term, very low weight infants have a twofold greater lifelong exposure to racial discrimination than African American women who deliver full-term, normal weight babies. They cite a 2007 study from Atlanta ‘s Spelman College in which black women agree racism is a source of the stress they cite as their “major” health risk.

“For black women, the effects of racism, sexism and class are multiplicative rather than additive,” says Vijaya Hogan, director of the Health Disparities Curriculum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the Joint Center reports. “Each increases the individual effect of the other and together they add up to more than the sum of their parts.”

Contributions to Overall Crisis

Experts say the same problems causing poor birth outcomes for black women are likely contributing to an overall crisis in their health.

Black women are twice as likely as white women to be overweight, have heart attacks, develop diabetes or fail to get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise daily, reports the CDC.

They account for 72 percent of new AIDS cases even though they represent just 6 percent of the population, reports the Los Angeles-based Black AIDS Institute.

Their life expectancy is 69 years, eight years less than for white women, reports the Census.

Black-white health disparities explain why 40,000 African American women die of treatable causes each year, notes the office of the U.S. Surgeon General.

Authors of the center’s reports call for better health care access and education to improve birth outcomes. They also call for sweeping social change such as legislation that will work to end economic and educational disparities.

On Sept. 29, the Chicago-based advocacy group African American Women Evolving is holding its own 100-member symposium on black women’s health at Malcolm X College in Chicago .

“We need to pay attention to–and address–high infant mortality and other health problems affecting black women,” says Gina E. Wood, deputy director of the Joint Center ‘s Health Policy Institute. “This is broader than a medical issue. It’s about the total environment–and the total life—of African American women.”

Molly M. Ginty is a freelance writer based in New York City .

For more information:
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies: –
California Newsreel, “Unnatural Causes”: –
African American Women Evolving: –

the subjectivity of pregnancy

October 1, 2007 § 1 Comment

i have been thinking about the objectification of pregnant women for more than a year.  i have a 6 month old so obviously this theme became very relevant for me while i was pregnant.  everytime i try to express myself and my observations experiences in relation to the objectification of the pregnant women, the person who i am talking to sidetracks me.  or straight out dismisses what i am saying.  or just treats it like it is one of my little issues.  and then today i was looking at the belly cast of myself at 9 months and felt so angry about how people treat pregnant women that i thought that maybe i could try writing about it.  and thus i would not get sidetracked.

so i look at myself pregnant (in the rear view mirror) and the women who allowed me to be a doula with them and my friends who are mamas and i know that there is a pattern.  and it is a dangerous and pernicious pattern.

first, i know that alot of women say that they like sexism.  they like being objectified constantly, treated and talked to and talked about as if they were a small child.  they like patriarchy.  they like that there are women’s roles and men’s roles.  they think that men should be the head of the household and the primary leaders in the public world.  they like biological essentialism.  so these propatriarchy women (and there are so many more than i ever want to admit)  often use excuses like:  its easier this way.  and i like being the little lady all the time.  and i like really macho men.  but propatriarchy women are not that interesting to me right now.

second,  the objectification of women becomes amplified exponentially once that woman becomes pregnant.  and i can see it most clearly during labor or pregnancy–whenever people authorities doctors strangers etc think that there is a conflict between what is best for the baby and what the mother thinks is best for herself.  suddenly the baby trumps the mother.  and the assumption in the construction of this ‘conflict’ is that the woman must martyr herself for the sake of the fetus or else she is selfish.  and some women are into being martyrs. thats cool for them, but certainly not healthy for everyone.  some people think that birth is primarily about having a healthy baby.  it isnt.  pregnancy and birth is about a woman being empowered to choose for herself what should be primary.  i think the best thing for babies is to have a woman who has the faith in herself to know that what is best for her.

third,  mammalian pregnancy is an incredible event.  nonpregnant people go psycho when they are near a pregnant woman.  the second that most nonpregnant people see a pregnant belly, that pregnant woman’s personhood becomes secondary to her pregnancy.  i dont know how else to describe how people go crazy around pregnancy.  it is like how white people go crazy around a person of color.  how they see the color first and then the person (if ever).  all of a sudden ever stupid offensive thought that a white person has ever had about ‘nonwhite’ people comes streaming through their head and the white person is trying so hard to not say all of these politically incorrect things, and it is so hard, cause they cant remember whether something is okay or not okay to say anymore, and then they become frustrated that this poc is making them work so hard and feel so insecure and then they become angry and of course the next thing out of their mouth is so vile and racist (much worse than whateva they were trying not say) and then the poc responds.  and now the white person accuses the poc of being too angry and difficult.

a similar process happens with those ‘crazy pregnancy women’.  and then pregnant women start telling themselves they are crazy.  i did to meself plenty of times.  and then i would talk to one of the sanest people i know (i have a couple of friends who are sane believe it or not) and i would have a normal conversation that included pregnancy talk and political talk and pop culture and randomness of life and all of the myriad of topics i love to engage on.  and i would realize that i was having a bunch of crazy people circling me, that didnt mean i had to be crazy.  just because white folks are angry about their racism doesnt mean that i am an angry woc.

so mammalian pregnancy is an incredible event.  but it is highly oppressive sexist to call a woman crazy because she is pregnant and she would like it if you talked to her subjectivity and not her belly

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