We Need To Do More To Help Mothers In America

We Need To Do More To Help Mothers In America

How can we best support new moms in America?
Jake VP.
Jake VP.
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With Mother’s Day here, it seems appropriate to look at how America’s mothers are doing. And sad to say it isn’t good, America is “most dangerous affluent country in which to give birth” with over 60% of deaths being preventable according to the CDC Foundation.

Deaths aren’t the only thing, there are other medical conditions as well, some of which can be a lifelong struggle to cope with, so what is going on? “The reasons include striking declines in the health of women giving birth and inequities in access to insurance and maternity care... Medicaid, which pays for half of all U.S. births, covers many mothers only up to two months past delivery. As a result, for low-income women, pre-existing conditions that imperiled one delivery may go unseen and untreated until the next pregnancy.”

The combination of poor or less accessible healthcare, plus an increase in needing healthcare presents a double whammy of poor effects, and a vicious cycle of mother’s not getting the help they need.

It is also important to note, “what some experts have dubbed “delay and denial” — the failure of doctors and nurses to recognize a woman’s distress signals and other worrisome symptoms, both during childbirth and the often risky period that follows.” This is a dangerous trend. It reminds me of the story of doctors learning how to break bad news.

At one point doctors wouldn’t even tell patients about a terminal diagnosis. But with the pioneering of Rob Buckman, with some help from Monty Python (seriously listen to the linked podcast it’s an amazing story) doctors learned how to break bad news, and it starts with listening and empathizing. Without empathizing with patients, and listening to them, doctors are missing important details about their patient's conditions which are leading to serious health implications.

That’s not everything though.

Incredibly important to understand is the experience of mothers and their babies who are people of color. From one New York Times Story, "Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. In one year, that racial gap adds up to more than 4,000 lost black babies.

Education and income offer little protection. In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education.”

So what is the solution? For one thing an increase in healthcare available. This can look like doula services which there is evidence has been helping women of color, also more accessible healthcare, such as a Medicare for all. Also, the medical professions need to do a better job at listening to our mothers, in fact, we all probably could do a better job at listening to our mothers.

Cover Image Credit: Joshua Rodriguez

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Blocking Toxic Family Members Can Be Just What You Needed

It isn't an easy choice but it can be the most rewarding.

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I haven't written for the Odyssey in quite some time due to this large issue in my life that I feel some people may also need to hear. Watching your parents go through a divorce can be difficult in itself, but what about having to remove one of your parents from your life at the same time? It's something I don't think many people could imagine doing. However, sometimes you are forced into the position between choosing what is best for your mental health or what is expected of you. For me, I realized that I needed to put myself first.

I realized that I am my own person. How I present myself and how I act and what I choose to believe in is how the world perceives me. I was faced with a parent who did not let me be who I am. The way I thought had to be in line with theirs. What I openly spoke about had to be in line with that parent's thoughts. This also, in turn, meant I had to revolve how I was perceived to the world around that parent's family. I had to abide by these societal norms and do what someone else expected of me. I realized that was ludicrous.

This parent was also abusive. They were toxic and manipulative and I could not stand idly by and just take that from them while also trying to become an independent young adult. I was forced to sit and watch one of my parents transform into someone I didn't recognize anymore. I had to watch them ignore any kind of reality checks and continue to feign innocence. I watched one of my parents mentally manipulate people I once called family into believing lies. I kept my head down and shut my mouth and kept taking the abuse. Now I'm at a point where I can confidently say that I am no longer afraid.

I was forced to cut ties with a parent that raised me, cared for me, attended school functions, fixed toys, bought me my first phone. I was forced to chuck out priceless memories for my own sanity. I could not sit idly by and allow myself to endure one more second of lies or abuse. I had to stand up for myself for once in my life and I blocked most of my family. I blocked cousins, aunts, uncles, and godparents. I changed my phone number that I had since 6th grade. I gave no warning and disappeared from my family's lives. Do I have regrets? No. I would do it again if I had to because I am so much stronger than sitting there and taking it.

I will have one less parent at my college graduation, which I am fighting so hard to achieve. I will have one less parent at my wedding. My future children will have one less grandparent. I mope in these thoughts but then I have to remember the other side of things. I will not have an unsupportive parent at my graduation and instead will have those that were there every step of the way. I will lack someone who was toxic at my wedding. My future children will never have to face the same abusive, toxic situations that my parent put me through. It was a difficult decision to make but one that I know in my heart is worthwhile.

Cutting a family member out of your life is difficult enough but cutting a parent is unimaginable. However, no one deserves to go through abusive situations. It shouldn't matter who the person is; if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, they have no use being in your life. You should always be your first priority. You should never have to endure something for the sake of others. I am here to tell you that you are more than that and that cutting out a family member could actually be the best thing for you, even if it's incredibly difficult. I did it and I'm still here. It made me realize who my real family was, and there will never be enough thank you's in the world to show my mother just how much I appreciate her.

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