It’s been almost two years since we launched Focus on the Fourth, our funding opportunity with a specific focus on improving maternal health during the year after childbirth for women experiencing the greatest health disparities, especially women of color. Every day, there are more critical uncertainties and opportunities to keep the issue and importance of women’s health top of mind. We recently put together a panel on maternal mortality for SXSW and are so inspired by members of the community and recipients of our Focus on the Fourth grants that have come together to build collaboratives like Black Mamas ATX and create calls to action.
On Mother’s Day, the Austin American-Statesman published an op-ed penned by our Senior Program Officer for Women’s Health, Elizabeth Krause, which highlighted the importance of a full year of care for women following childbirth. Link: Austin American-Statesman: “Let’s Give Texas Mothers a Lifeline”.
Last week, we were honored to host Jennie Joseph, the inspiring midwife leader of Commonsense Childbirth and creator of the JJ Way, to join us for a breakfast discussion on health equity. We had a packed room for the event, which brought together local doulas, midwifes, safety net clinic staff and representatives from area nonprofits, all of whom are focused on improving maternal outcomes for women.
We were inspired by Jennie and the simplicity of her message: “All women want and deserve a healthy baby.” She stressed that there are a multitude of barriers keeping underserved women, especially women of color, from having the healthy and empowered pregnancy they deserve, from the neighborhoods where they live, to bureaucracy and increasingly strict, confusing Medicaid restrictions.
Access, knowledge and empowerment, she said, are the ways we get to the best possible outcomes for mothers and their babies. We know there is a long path ahead of us, not just in Texas, but across the US, and we’re so grateful that we have leaders like those that were in the room as Jennie spoke, who are making strides to make sure every mother has the best birth outcome possible.