California Releases Inaugural Maternal Mortality Surveillance Report

California Releases Inaugural Maternal Mortality Surveillance Report

The Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Division of the California Department of Public Health has released the first report from the California Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System (CA-PMSS) project. This surveillance report provides the most accurate information on California’s pregnancy-related deaths (including those up to one year after the end of pregnancy) occurring from 2008 through 2016.

 

Read the joint letter from the Center for Family Health and the Center for Health Statistics and Informatics.

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Breast/Chestfeeding FAQs & Questions

What is the significance of Black Breastfeeding Week?

Black Breastfeeding Week was originally designated in 2013 by nationally recognized breastfeeding advocates and Black maternal health trailblazers Kimberly Seals Allers, Kiddada Green, and Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka. Since its inception, the campaign has been held annually from August 25-31 with the intention of raising awareness and empowering breast/chestfeeding persons within the Black community. Black Breastfeeding Week’s purpose is to close the racial disparity gap in breastfeeding rates while encouraging folks in the medical field to provide lactating mothers and birthing persons with the support and resources that they need to begin and stay the course throughout their breast/chestfeeding journey. 

How does Black Breastfeeding Week tie into the objectives of the AAIMM Initiative?

In the United States, we are experiencing a Black maternal and Black infant health crisis. Black moms and babies are 3 to 4 times (and in some areas even 5-6) more likely to die during and after childbirth and during the first year of life than our white counterparts/white babies. The root cause is easy to identify: racism. The solution is not. Ending this disparity involves solutions that are comprehensive, far-reaching, and move beyond the category of a “Black problem” into where it belongs as a United States problem. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), once said, “What if governments had a proven, cost-effective way to save babies’ lives, reduce rates of malnutrition, support children’s health, increase educational attainment and grow productivity? They do: It’s called breastfeeding. And it is one of the best investments nations can make in the lives and futures of their youngest members—and in the long-term strength of their societies.” 

Black breast/chestfeeding specifically addresses the high rates of Black infant & maternal mortality. It is a tool available to us that we can (and do) use to offset the negative impact of stress that racism, experienced in this country, has on our bodies and those of our babies. It is resistance. It is beauty. It is raw. It is activism in its truest and purest form.

Facts: Breastfeeding decreases rates of ear infections, asthma, gastrointestinal infections, SIDS, Lower Respiratory infections, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity in babies/children and decreases rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, overweight/obesity, and Type 2 diabetes in lactating individuals.

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AAIMM ANNOUNCES BLACK BREAST/CHESTFEEDING WEEK CAMPAIGN FOR AUGUST 25-31

Los Angeles, California (August 24, 2021) The African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Prevention Initiative announces the activation of a weeklong campaign geared toward spreading awareness of Black Breastfeeding Week, which was officially recognized by the LA County Board of Supervisors in June 2021. Co-sponsored by the South LA/South Bay Community Action Team (SLASB AAIMM CAT) and the LA County AAIMM Prevention Initiative,“Support/Protect/Welcome Black Breast/Chest Feeding Everywhere” is the theme for the week with supporting sub-themes around breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and pumping. This campaign is also made possible through the support, guidance, information, and resources provided by partners BreastfeedLA, CinnaMoms  and March of Dimes. 

The terms "breastfeeding" and "chestfeeding" are used interchangeably and together to describe the action of feeding an infant human-milk. The term "chestfeeding" is offered as an alternate term for lactating persons that prefer not to use the term "breast" when referring to their own bodies. This is the AAIMM Prevention Initiative’s commitment to caring authentically about the well-being of all individuals and to inclusivity (adapted from BreastfeedLA).

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2021 Village Fund Grantee: Lydia O. Boyd, Lactation Specialist

Lydia O. Boyd is a Lactation Specialist who provides breast/chestfeeding support and education to expectant and current breast/chestfeeding families in Los Angeles County. In addition to supporting new parents during the early post-pregnancy period, she also provides care for the transition back to work or school after maternity leave, when weaning, and in the event of a pregnancy loss. Although she serves all families  regardless of race, the focus of her work is with Black-identifying families belonging to the African diaspora. 

Boyd’s 13 years of research and experience in counseling, coaching, and teaching other Black women throughout the breast/chestfeeding journey has made her especially qualified to speak to racial disparities within the birthing community and provides her with a unique perspective and position to support Black mothers, giving them a space where they feel centered and supported. “We are the mothers in the Black community,” Boyd stated, speaking of Black women. “We understand first-hand what we need.” Her work strives to provide a reconnection to the honor and pride of breast/chestfeeding that has been lost from years of oppression.

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2021 Village Fund Grantee: M. E. N. T. O. R. S.

Men Taking Over Reforming Society (M.E.N.T.O.R.S., Inc.)

M.E.N.T.O.R.S., Inc. is on a mission to provide a space of refuge for the Black community in South Los Angeles. By facilitating support services for Black parents, M.E.N.T.O.R.S. creates social networks that are healthy, safe, and informative havens of growth. Peers and experts  work together to promote better outcomes for both parents and their babies.

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2021 Village Fund Grantee: Luna and Soul Yoga Studio

One of the many things that sets Luna and Sol Yoga apart from other yoga studios is an emphasis on community which extends beyond the physical practice of yoga, to honor the roots of yogic tradition. Luna and Sol Yoga embodies the meaning of “oran a azu nwa (it takes a village)” by providing vital support to expectant mothers and their families.

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BLACK BREASTFEEDING WEEK 2021: THE BIG PAUSE

THE BIG PAUSE: The Collective Rest for Collective Power

Calling all Black/African American Breast/Chest Feeding Families:



Click to access the Survey Form

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Black Equity Collective Is Transforming the Relationship Between Philanthropy and the Black Community

"The only way that these issues will stay in the public domain, the only way we'll advance equality and justice and liberation, is if philanthropy keeps the window open." - Kaci Patterson  (AAIMM Steering Committee Member)

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The Village Fund Grantee: YOUTH WITH A PURPOSE

The statistics are alarming: 45% of children in California live in low-income households. Of that group of children, 57% are Black and 61% are Latino. Youth from low-income neighborhoods are 20% more likely to end up in prison and 61% of the incarcerated population are Black or Latino. Youth With a Purpose (YWAP) has made it its mission to weaken the school to prison pipeline and improve outcomes for low-income youth. And their plan starts at the very beginning: before birth.

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AAIMM Launches Free Pregnancy Trimester Guide With Tips and Resources to Activate “The Village”

(Los Angeles County, CA) “It takes a village to raise a child,” the African proverb states, and activation of that village begins before birth. In an effort to support healthy and joyous births for Black moms, families, and babies, the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative (AAIMM) has created a Tips to Activate Your Village Guide full of useful information and resources for each of the trimesters comprising the prenatal period and the first three months after the baby is born (the “fourth trimester”). The guide is now available for free to download from its website, blackinfantsandfamilies.org


One of the cornerstone beliefs behind the AAIMM initiative is that healthy and joyous births do not happen alone. They require an entire community of support — that means not just family and friends, but also neighbors, healthcare workers, educators, and colleagues. Everyone who influences the environment in which children are born and raised can contribute to and support the next generation being healthy, safe and happy. 

The Tips to Activate Your Village Guide was created to support expectant parents in their efforts to engage their own Village, and as a helpful resource for folks who may be a part of an existing Village. "We are excited to share this resource to support Black families — especially pregnant women and birthing people — and activating a village of support at every stage of pregnancy and childbirth,” said Dr. Melissa Franklin, LA County AAIMM Initiative. “The toolkit was informed by the collective wisdom of our AAIMM Prevention Initiative partners.” 

While there are myriad apps and brochures dedicated to tracking the physical development of babies both before and after birth, not many specifically relate to the concept of activating one’s village and system of supportive persons and resources. Some of the tips in the guide include: create a birth plan, find a doula, join the Black Infant Health program, advocate for respectful care, and check in with your partner. The guide goes further than just offering tips, however. It also offers links to resources and programs — many, if not all of which, are absolutely free. 

The AAIMM initiative just wrapped up a successful campaign for Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) for which it created over 25 well-attended virtual events, launched a video series that received over 10,000 views on social media, and created a downloadable toolkit of creative pieces on its website’s hub for BMHW. In addition to making the Tips to Activate Your Village guide available on its website, the AAIMM Steering Committee encourages people to share the link to the guide on social media platforms using #WeAreTheVillage. 

As the initiative continues its work, there are plans to roll out more collateral pieces as part of its continued effort to educate people about Black infant and maternal mortality as well as bring about more equitable birth outcomes. “We are currently building more resources and programs, all centered on supporting access to healthy and joyous births for Black families, in particular those resources and tips that are often not talked about," said Dr. Melissa Franklin, LA County AAIMM Initiative

The Los Angeles County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Initiative is a coalition of the LA County Health Agency (Department of Mental Health, Department of Public Health, and Department of Health Services), First 5 LA, community organizations, mental and health care providers, funders, and community members. The purpose of the initiative is to address the unacceptably high rates of Black infant and maternal deaths in Los Angeles County and ensure healthy and joyous births for Black families in LA County. Through a series of comprehensive coordinated strategies, AAIMM works to reduce the gap in Black/White infant mortality rates by 30% by 2023. For more information, and to find out how you can support the initiative, please visit www.blackinfantsandfamilies.org


Click HERE to download the Trimester Guide. 
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