Mamas on Bedrest: Introducing Vibrant Woman Pregnancy Clinic/Mama Sana Clinica Prenatal

October 24th, 2012

I have said it before and I will continue to say it until we have gender, reproductive and birth justice/equality-We can no longer afford to be pro-choice or pro-life, we have to be “Pro-Action!” That is why I am pleased to introduce to you the Vibrant Woman Pregnancy Clinic/Mama Sana Clinica Prenatal. The clinic opened its doors October 15th, 2012.

Here in Austin, TX, it can be perilous to be pregnant and poor. If you are among the “lucky” and a TX Medicaid recipient, you will have access to a limited number of prenatal visits, but any of the newer treatments, technologies, or even personable service is well out of your reach. If you’re poor and uninsured, you’re just out of luck and at the whim of whomever you may encounter when you show up at the emergency room. (Your primary provider!)

We all know that prenatal care consists of more than weight and blood pressure measurements, peeing in a cup to check for protein and measuring the distance from your pubic bone to your navel. Prenatal care should consist of nutrition education, exercise education, labor preparation, breastfeeding preparation and social support-i.e. are you safe at home, have your quit smoking, how are you managing with a young one at home?-and a general concern for the pregnant woman and her needs. Many health care providers would balk at this list of “requirements”. First and foremost, they are in the business of getting you a healthy baby. The party line, “There’s no time for the touchy feely”. Yet, this is comprehensive prenatal care. Taking the time to educate a prospective mama in these areas, to answer her questions and to make sure that she is safe (physically and emotionally) and not just her baby or the pregnancy is a huge part of what prenatal care should entail. And if you are an uninsured, poor, pregnant woman you are most likely getting none of this vital information or support.

So Mamas of Color Rising, a  collective of working class and poor mothers of color based in and around Austin, Texas has taken action. In the 3 short years they have been established, Mamas of Color Rising has trained 25 birth companions to support low income mamas and mamas of color through pregnancy, labor and delivery. Several of the members are becoming trained as midwives. They have helped lobby for access to and Medicaid reimbursement of Licensed Professional Midwives via Texas Medicaid (and are poised to claim victory on that rules change) and have now helped to establish, open and operate a free prenatal clinic serving low income women, uninsured women and women of color.

According to Paula Rojas, program coordinator,  “The abundance of pregnancy and birth support services available in Austin are not accessible to all mothers and babies.”

According to Rojas, more than 25.9 percent of Latina women in Austin receive no prenatal care compared with 7.8 percent of white women. Travis County’s infant mortality rate was recorded as 5.8 per 1,000 live births for white women and 20.5 – or more than 150 percent higher – for black women.

“The United States ranks 50th in the world when it comes to safety in birth, and Travis County rates are worse than the national averages, particularly for African American and Latina women,” Rojas said.

“The goal of project is to connect with low-income Black and Latina mothers in Austin, to foster personal and collective empowerment while providing free prenatal care and education,” said Kellee Coleman, outreach coordinator for the clinic.

Vibrant Woman/Mama Sana women’s clinic will address economic, social and language barriers, and provide free group prenantal care appointments with individual physical exams by doctors from Blackstock Family Health Center and community midwives.

That’s “Pro-Action!” It’s seeing a need and finding a way to meet that need. And when it comes to women’s health and wellness. Mamas of Color Rising is a “Pro-Action!” collective that is practicing what they preach and bringing quality prenatal health care to low income and poor women of color in Greater Austin, Texas.

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