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Who We Are
California Families for Access to Midwives includes mothers, fathers, families and their communities who advocate safe, affordable and healthy birth options. CFAM is working to improve the health of mothers and babies by increasing access to midwifery care.
Racial disparities in birth outcomes stem from more than one source, but the impact of societal and institutional discrimination and racism are drawing more attention through research which endeavors to unravel the causes of the alarming differences in outcomes.
UCLA obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Michael Lu believes that for many women of color, racism over a lifetime, not just during the nine months of pregnancy, increases the risk of preterm delivery. To improve birth outcomes, Lu argues, we must address the conditions that impact women's health not just when they become pregnant but from childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.
On March 12, 2010, Amnesty International issued a report entitled Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA, which documented that although the United States spends more on health care than any other country, it ranked 41st (at the time of publication) in terms of maternal death.”
Racism is making people sick — especially black women and babies, says Miriam Zoila Pérez. The doula turned journalist explores the relationship between race, class and illness and tells us about a radically compassionate prenatal care program that can buffer pregnant women from the stress that people of color face every day.
Chronic emotional stress results from many factors, including physically demanding jobs and a lack of control in the workplace, single parenthood, and financial worries–all problems experienced disproportionately by women of color. Discrimination is also a documented source of harmful stress. One study found that women who gave birth to very low birth weight babies were more likely to have experienced racial discrimination than women who had normal weight babies.
This firsthand account of pregnancy through the eyes of a black reporter touches on many needs of black women, including access to care providers who can be trusted to provide culturally competent care, as well as the importance of midwives, doulas and doctors of color.
This report evaluates the U.S. record on addressing racial and gender discrimination in sexual and reproductive health care. Recognizing that discrimination exists in both law and fact, we focus on the need for policy change as well as proactive measures to address the structural forms of discrimination that inhibit the ability of women of color and immigrant women to exercise their human right to health.