Wisdom and a Way Forward for Maternal and Child Health Professionals and Institutions
State Title V/Maternal and Child Health (MCH) programs across the United States are to implement solutions created with communities to urgently close racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. There are countless programs across the nation, some just forming and others around for decades or more, designed and implemented by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other thought leaders of color that are community-led and rooted, actively counteract toxic stress and structural violence that produce inequitable outcomes, and have been deemed effective by the communities who use these services. However, only a small proportion of these efforts have been equitably recognized and resourced by public health and health care practitioners and institutions.
The JJ Way® and the Perinatal Safe Spot program is an evidence-based Promising Practice in the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP)’s MCH Innovations Database, a searchable repository of “what’s working” in the field of MCH. The National Perinatal Task Force describes a Perinatal Safe Spot as a physical or virtual space, or both, where women and families can safely find access, connections, knowledge, and empowerment in order to increase the opportunities for a positive birth outcome. The Task Force further explains that Perinatal Safe Spots exist in “materno-toxic” areas, which are often in disenfranchised urban neighborhoods or low-resource rural areas where women and babies are particularly at risk of a poor birth outcome because it is not safe to be pregnant, breastfeeding, or parenting in those areas, including due to implicit and explicit biases, racism, classism, and sexism wherever a pregnant woman of color may be. Community-rooted collectives are an evidence-based and effective practice to protect people who birth from negative birth outcomes created by toxic stress and structural violence, and therefore should be a priority in any maternal health agenda.
AMCHP, in partnership with the Maternal Health Learning & Innovation Center and Commonsense Childbirth, collaborated with a newly established Perinatal Safe Spot in Kansas, Quindaro Health Corps, to learn more about these barriers and strategies to uplift their work and efforts like it. Read the interview in the voice of their leader.