Jan, 2021 by Mayealie Adams, Director, Compliance, Political & Government Affairs Philips North America
Reading time: 5-6 minutes

Get on the Momnibus: a faster route for supporting moms and babies in crisis

Mother with infant son photoshoot

The journey to motherhood is one of life’s greatest joys, but for many, especially minority women, it can be a journey fraught with struggle, adversity and heartbreak. If you are Black, you are three times more likely to die due to pregnancy-related causes than other women are. If you are Native American, you are 2.5 times more likely.1

 

As an African American mom, this struggle hits close to home. When I took my first steps down that path to motherhood, little did I know it would hold the best and the worst moments of my life. At the age of 32, I was already considered a high-risk pregnancy due to my 'advanced age' for having a child. 

 

In the middle of my second trimester, a test revealed the possibility of a more serious condition. The doctor sat my husband and I down to discuss something we never expected: whether we wanted to continue with the pregnancy. He feared the potential of life-threatening complications for me and my unborn child, and he wanted us to be aware of the risks. That moment was the scariest of my life. 

Mother cradling infant son

My experience is all too common. The reasons for these high rates of maternal mortality vary. Many minority women suffer from chronic diseases like heart disease, which are associated with higher risk for pregnancy-related deaths.2 Black women are also more likely to receive obstetric care in hospitals with lower quality ratings3 while facing implicit bias in the healthcare system.4 These factors impact their interactions with care providers, treatment decisions and, ultimately, their outcomes. 

 

These issues impact pregnant women and their infants. The sad truth is that Black babies are twice as likely as white babies to die before their first birthday.5 We are in a crisis that disproportionately impacts moms and babies of color. These racial disparities persist across age groups and levels of education. In the past few years, while maternal mortality rates continue to decrease around the world, they are actually rising in the U.S.6, which is now among the most dangerous places for childbirth in the developed world.7

 

All moms and babies deserve health equity and access to care. This is a clear priority for our company, which is passionate about eliminating healthcare disparities. Under the leadership of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, and with Philips support, Congress is considering a package of bills titled the Momnibus Act of 2021. This legislation would address health disparities in maternal care and promote access and preventative care for all moms and babies. 

 

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is an important step toward saving lives and includes a series of 12 bills to end racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes. The legislation will: 

  1. Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation and nutrition.
  2. Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity.
  3. Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing pregnant and postpartum military and support VA maternity care coordination programs.
  4. Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives culturally congruent maternity care and support.
  5. Improve data collection processes and quality measures to better understand the causes of the maternal health crisis in the United States and inform solutions to address it.
  6. Support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
  7. Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms.
  8. Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas.
  9. Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and nonclinical support during and after pregnancy.
  10. Invest in federal programs to address the unique risks for and effects of COVID-19 during and after pregnancy and to advance respectful maternity care in future public health emergencies.
  11. Invest in community-based initiatives to reduce levels of and exposure to climate change-related risks for moms and babies.
  12. Promote maternal vaccinations to protect the health and safety of moms and babies.

Infant yawning

Last year, Philips North America Chief Market Leader, Vitor Rocha, led us all in a grassroots campaign to send letters to Congress urging for the bill’s passage. Philips employees sent over 1,300 letters to their representatives. We deeply believe that working together, intentionally and collaboratively, we can make a difference.

Infant eating cake

I am fortunate that my personal story has a happy ending. Living in an area with easy access to obstetricians, gynecologists and related services and with my own health insurance, I was able to receive effective care coordination to address my risk factors. Five months later, in February 2013, I experienced the joy of giving birth to my son Benjamin Charles Adams. Holding him in my arms, I marveled at how tiny he was. I played with his little fingers and fell in love a thousand times over, as I gazed into his big brown eyes. In those first few days, all the pain and struggles of pregnancy melted away. All I could think about was how fortunate I was to be a mother and have this beautiful, perfect little baby in my arms. 

 

This is the experience I wish for every mother. Let’s work together to make that a reality. 

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To learn more about our work addressing health disparities, please contact:
healthequity@philips.com

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