In Louisville, we want all babies to celebrate their first birthdays and beyond. We want all moms, regardless of ethnicity or income, to deliver healthy, full term babies.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case in our country or our city today.
In the U.S., maternal mortality for Black women is more than double that for white women.
This is important because infant outcomes can impact health throughout the rest of one’s life. While infant mortality has slowly been falling, the death rate for Black babies from 2011- 2015 was 1.95 times higher than for Louisville Metro as a whole; 2.31 times higher than for White babies; and 2.88 times higher than for Hispanic babies.
We know that helping moms to deliver healthy babies is more than just access to good prenatal care. Prenatal care is important but we also need to address other important root causes of poor birth outcomes such as employment and income, access to healthy foods, safe housing and safe neighborhoods, and the effects of having a parent incarcerated. We want everyone in our community to be able to imagine alternative possibilities—a day when health outcomes will be equal.
We know that the local public health department can in no way solve the disparities of maternal mortality, pre-term and low birth weight babies or infant mortality on our own.
It takes people from all sectors and the community working together.
In 2014, we worked with several community partners to create Healthy Babies Louisville - a group that includes community members and partners from health care, social services, academia, and government working to ensure that all babies live to see their first birthday and have the supports to grow up healthy, safe, and strong.
Together, we are working to develop, adopt and improve policies and practices shown to improve equity in birth outcomes.
And we are joining together to improve equity in ways that none of us could ever do alone. We looked at the research, asked for input from community members, and checked with colleagues around the country to plan our next steps. Here's what we are doing collectively to reduce preterm birth, low birth weight and infant death:
- Supporting a policy to expand paid parental leave;
- Expanding access to community doulas;
- Increasing access to Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs); and
- Providing breastfeeding educational supports to OB providers
- Creating a Stigma Intervention Plan
Addressing Maternal Mortality
The March of Dimes (MOD) has connected with Healthy Babies Louisville (HBL) to develop a work group with the goal of reducing maternal mortality. Kentucky’s most recent data on maternal deaths demonstrated an unexpected increase, and analysis suggests that women who used substances were particularly impacted. To reduce maternal deaths related to substance use and substance use disorder, the MOD/HBL Maternal Mortality work group will collaborate with health care providers at University of Louisville Hospital’s Center for Women and Infants to create a stigma intervention plan. Carol Brees, MD, a member of the MM work group, assessed interest and receive approval from UL Hospital collaborate on this project. Our theory of change proposes that reducing stigma from frontline health care staff will improve health care experiences for women who use substances prenatally and postpartum and contribute to a reduction in maternal mortality.
How do you get involved? If you need services ranging from healthcare to housing please call Metro United Way, 2-1-1, or 1-877-566-4968 to connect to resources across Louisville Metro.
If your agency would like to get involved in the collective impact work of Healthy Babies Louisville, contact us at 502-574-6520.