June 2024 Issue: Fatherhood and Events

In this Issue: Celebrating Fatherhood!

June is an exciting month for the AAIMM village! All month long, we're amplifying our Fatherhood program on our website, social media platforms, and through grassroots and media efforts. We're also looking forward to community events celebrating fathers and freedom.

Keep reading to learn more!

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May 2023 Issue: 2024 KJLH Women's Health Expo

In this issue: 

 

We have some exciting news! AAIMM is a proud sponsor of this year's KJLH Women's Health Expo. Get more details about the Expo, our booth, and giveaways. You'll also see some highlights from BMHW, so keep reading for more! 

As always, thank YOU for being an outstanding member of our AAIMM village.
We're stronger together

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April 2024: BMHW 2024

In this month's newsletter, we celebrate the seventh annual Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW)
and share upcoming events and opportunities. Keep reading for more! 

Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) is here! AAIMM is excited to join our community partners in proudly celebrating this year's theme: 
"Our Bodies STILL Belong to Us: Reproductive Justice NOW!" for the seventh annual BMHW celebration from April 11-17.

Founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA), BMHW is a week of awareness, activism, and community building. 
The week kicks off on April 11, which is globally recognized as International Day for Maternal Health and Rights – an opportunity to join the worldwide community advocating for the elimination of maternal mortality. 

This year’s AAIMM activities for Black Maternal Health Week are very diverse—ranging from birthing tours, documentary screenings, educational sessions with doulas, and much more. They all amplify the voices of Black mamas and birthing persons and center the values and history of the reproductive and birth justice movements.

Please visit our BMHW 2024 page for updated event listings and other information, and feel free to share the link with your village. Help us make BMHW one of the most talked about activities in L.A. County. Follow @blackinfantsandfamiliesla on Instagram for updates and use #BMHW24 and #BlackMaternalHealthWeek to help spread awareness.

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February 2024: February Events and BHM

Happy Black History Month from the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative (AAIMM)!

Black History Month allows us to reflect on our collective history and recognize achievements and contributions made by our ancestors. This month is also an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding work that continues today and will be built upon in the future. Our AAIMM programs are extensions of long-held traditions that we celebrate as part of Black history, as shared experiences within the African diaspora.


THE IMPORTANCE OF BLACK BIRTH WORKERS

 

Doulas (also known as birth workers) have long been recognized as experienced and compassionate birthing companions by the families they serve, but were dismissed by the western medical system. Only in the past couple of decades have doulas been recognized anew as professionals, rooted in community. In their role, doulas provide emotional support, guidance, and comfort to families throughout the pregnancy experience, regardless of outcomes. Along with assisting during the birthing process, doulas contribute to parents’ holistic well-being by imparting valuable and culturally competent knowledge on prenatal care, nutrition, interventions, and coping strategies. Doulas provide a safe space during one of the most intimate and vulnerable moments in a birthing person’s life, where they can share their fears, hopes and joy. 

As advocates for informed decision making, doulas are an added support and protection for Black pregnant persons within the birthing care team for expectant families. The presence of birth workers fosters a sense of empowerment and strengthens the communal fabric, as the wisdom passed down between generations forms a vital part of cultural continuity. Through their commitment to enhancing maternal health and the sacred journey of childbirth, Black doulas exemplify the amalgamation of tradition, compassion, and resilience, enriching the tapestry of cultural practices surrounding childbirth. 

As we continue to champion equitable birthing outcomes in the United States, doulas remain at the forefront of efforts to eliminate racial disparities in maternal health and promote reproductive justice. Thanks to the advocacy of dedicated birth workers, including those within the AAIMM Doula Program, doula services were added as a covered Medi-Cal benefit in 2023 by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). 

 

Learn more about AAIMM’s Doula Program HERE

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF FATHERS

 

Fathers who are actively engaged during the pregnancy journey, offering steadfast emotional nourishment, support and protection, foster positive birth outcomes. Historically, the involvement of Black fathers transcended the birthing moment, encompassing the entire gestational period, during which fathers participated in rituals, ceremonies, and discussions focused on the well-being of the mother and the unborn child. This comprehensive approach to fatherhood cultivated a sense of unity and communal responsibility. 

In the U.S., Black fathers have maintained this responsibility, being anchors of support to their children and families often in the face of discrimination and widespread negative stereotypes. AAIMM recognizes, embraces, and celebrates Black fathers as catalysts for building strong communities and healthy families. AAIMM has created space through our Fatherhood Program for Black dads to build relationships in brotherhood while accessing the tools they need to prepare for their integral role in the family.  

 

Learn more about AAIMM’s Fatherhood Program HERE

 

 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY

 

In many African societies, community is not merely a physical space but a dynamic and interconnected network where individuals collaborate, celebrate, and navigate life's challenges together. This communal ethos is deeply rooted in the principle of Ubuntu (meaning “humanity” in Bantu), emphasizing the interdependence of individuals within the community, epitomized by the saying, "I am because we are."

Black American culture embraced Ubuntu in the way that communities were built and thrived through collective resolve. One example was historic Black Wall Street in the early 20th century in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This section of North Tulsa—at the time an affluent oil town—comprised a prosperous Black community. Mrs. Viola "Mother" Fletcher, author of Don't Let Them Bury My Story: The Oldest Living Survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre in Her Own Words, who recently visited Los Angeles, reflected on the community and the destruction it endured due to racism. 

Despite centuries of adversity, the beauty of our Black history is our ability to continually showcase our resilience, solidarity, and strength as a people when we present a unified front. The strength of our community shows through grassroots organizing, collective activism and advocacy, and the support networks we have built to champion equality.  

AAIMM’s Community Action Teams share this legacy throughout Los Angeles County, bathing our communities with the joy of knowing that we are not alone in this journey. We are in this together. 

 

 

Get involved with AAIMM’s Community Action Teams HERE

 

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December 2023: Happy Holidays from AAIMM!

From our Village to yours, happy holidays and best wishes for an impactful 2024. As we close out this year, we're sharing some of our highlights from 2023 and upcoming events, and honoring one of our founders and champions. 

Thank you so much for your continued support as we continue our work to bring joy and justice to Black families in Los Angeles County. 

 

It feels like 2023 flew by! In our 5th year as an initiative, we're proud of so many accomplishments in our efforts to bring about equitable birthing outcomes for all Black women and birthing persons and their infants. This year, however, showed us some wonderful wins, dynamic community events, and campaigns.

Here are just a few of our favorite moments celebrated as an AAIMM Village in 2023:

  • AAIMM becoming a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2023 Culture of Health prize recipient 

  • Expanding our Safe Space breast/chestfeeding efforts to include an online directory and Safe Space tent at Taste of Soul

  • Welcoming new doulas into our award-winning Doula program

  • Recreating our AAIMM Village with our Community Action Teams, Fatherhood and Doula programs at both the KJLH Women's Health Expo and Taste of Soul—both of which were attended by hundreds of thousands of people

  • CDU's Black Maternal Health Center of Excellence (BMHCE) awarded a 5-year, $9 Million HRSA Integrated Health Services Grant

  • Welcoming seven new Village Fund grantees

  • Proclamation made by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors designating October 2023 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and Sunday, October 15, 2023 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day of Remembrance
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November 2023: PAM, RWJFG, TOS Wrap-Up

Thank you so much for your continued support of the African American Infant and Maternal (AAIMM) Mortality Prevention Initiative. Together, we're working to end the injustice of Black infant and maternal deaths in LA County and work towards joyous, healthy, and equitable birthing outcomes. In this newsletter, you'll find updates and news related to Prematurity Awareness Month, our recent Taste of Soul activation, upcoming events, and a very special announcement regarding AAIMM winning the 2023 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize. 


AAIMM Honors Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Awareness Day

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and November 17 is World Prematurity Awareness Day. Join us as we share tips and resources to help reduce the risk of premature birth, and support new parents of premature babies.

On our website, we are highlighting some of our partners and Village Fund grantees who are working to help families who are experiencing a premature birth, as well as those who can be part of the plan to take preventative measures to ensure a healthy and joyous birthing experience. 

We've also included a link to the March of Dimes 2023 Report Card, which shares the collective factors that contribute to maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, and provides nationwide statistics. It also points to ways that we can collectively work to improve maternal and infant health in the U.S. 

Download our Prematurity Awareness Guide which contains tips to activate your village as an anchor of support, learn the signs of premature birth, and help prevent premature birth.  

You can also participate in the conversation on social media by following @blackinfantsandfamiliesla and share our content using #PrematurityAwarenessMonth, #WorldPrematurityAwarenessDay, and #AAIMM.

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October 2023 Issue: Taste of Soul 2023

In this issue: Visit our AAIMM Village at Taste of Soul 2023!

Join the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative in celebrating and supporting pregnant Black moms and birthing persons, and expectant Black families, at the 2023 Taste of Soul event on October 21 in South LA. The event kicks off at 10am and ends at 7pm. 

Our booth number is Y23-25 and is in the KJLH area. Stop by and meet people from our AAIMM Village, which provides free doula services, Black dad groups, pregnancy tips, and resources for Black families. You’ll also find out how you can get involved in local efforts through one of our AAIMM Community Action Teams. 

This year, our booth space will include a Safe Space breast/chestfeeding tent, which will provide a semi-private place for families to breast/chestfeed and change their babies' diapers. This comfortable space will be equipped with two rocking chairs and footrests, breast/chestfeeding pillows, a diaper changing station, information on our new Safe Space directory, with listings
of businesses that are part of the Safe Space effort, and some giveaway items (while they last)! 

Get more information on our website. Hope to see you soon!

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August 2023 Issue: BBFW 2023 is HERE!

In this issue: Black Breast/Chest Feeding Week 2023

 

Welcome to Black Breast/Chestfeeding Week! Our 2023 campaign, co-sponsored by the South LA/South Bay Community Action Team (SLASB AAIMM CAT) and the LA County AAIMM Prevention Initiative has now officially launched and we are looking forward to spreading awareness of Black Breast/Chestfeeding throughout the week and beyond. This campaign is also made possible through the support, guidance, information, and resources provided by partners BreastfeedLA, CinnaMoms and March of Dimes. 

In this email, please find resources that can be shared to support our efforts and help spread the word about the theme of our campaign: “Let's Grow the Village of Safe Spaces to Breast/Chestfeed,” with supporting sub-themes around breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and pumping. 

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 who  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).

Resources include:

  • Safe Space Directory
  • Events Calendar Link
  • Social Media Resources
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August 2023 Issue: BMHW, Our 2023 Theme & MORE!

In this Issue: 

 

The African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Prevention Initiative is proudly supporting the sixth celebration of Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW), April 11-17, which was once again recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and April 16, 2023
proclaimed “The Day of the Black Infant."

Founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA), BMHW is a week of awareness, activism, and community building. This year’s AAIMM campaign and activities for Black Maternal Health Week serve to amplify the voices of Black Mamas/Birthing Persons and center the values and traditions of the reproductive and birth justice movements.

Our goal is to shine a spotlight on the urgent need to uplift Black families as we continue working to grow our village of support for Black mamas/birthing persons and their infants. 

 

From Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA):

We are thrilled to reveal the official​ theme for Black Maternal Health Week 2023 (#BMHW23):​ “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy!” ​In light of the steadily alarming rise of maternal mortality in the U.S., which recent data shows has been exacerbated by the pandemic; and amidst growing cases of clear neglect in care in hospital systems immediately after labor and delivery, BMMA continues to highlight and center culturally-congruent practices with a focus on Black Midwifery care and full-spectrum Black-led Doula care as sound, evidence-based solutions. Most importantly, these are practices and solutions that incorporate the true needs, wants and desires of Black women and birthing people.

The African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Prevention Initiative is aligning our 2023 campaign with messaging around the importance of growing the greater village of support around Black women/birthing persons before, during, and after birth in order to help support healthy and joyous birthing outcomes. As we support the efforts of BMMA during BMHW, we will also be sharing events from organizations within our network — including those hosted by our AAIMM Community Action Teams — creating social media posts and digital content, and providing information, which will enable us to get closer to our goal of bringing about more equitable birthing outcomes for ALL women. 

Please check our website hub this week for all event listings and other information, and feel free to share the link with your Village, and check our events calendar below:

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World Doula Week 2022

Happy World Doula Week (March 22-28), a week in which we celebrate the people who labor alongside us throughout the entirety of the birthing journey, creating space for joy and liberation within the pregnancy experience. We salute some of our most valuable Village members this week!

 

Visit our Doula hub at BlackInfantsAndFamilies.org for more information about doulas, our doula program, profiles on the AAIMM doulas, and for answers to your frequently asked questions

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