Friday, November 21, 2014 was the first state meeting of the newly-formed Mississippi Perinatal Quality Collaborative (MSPQC for short). Dr. Charlene Collier & the State Department of Health brought together doctors, nurses, LCs and hospital staff in order for everyone to have a seat at the table and discuss the best ways to reduce pre-term birth, reduce infant mortality, and improve birth outcomes for mothers and babies.
There were several breakout sessions during the day, divided into three groups: family & public health care, maternal healthcare, and neonatal healthcare. I was present representing the Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project, so I was sitting in on the Family & Public Health sessions throughout the day.
Our chapter of the Birthing Project was invited by Dr. Anne Merewood of the CHAMPS breastfeeding initiative to be a part of the discussion as community health workers (doulas, breastfeeding peer counselors, and social supports). During the Mississippi CHAMPS breakout session, I was able to share some of my experiences that I have seen doing birthwork here in Tupelo and the surrounding counties. Inequality in maternal healthcare and breastfeeding is still very real, which is why it was so good to see healthcare workers stepping up and coming together to make a commitment to better, more equal practices for every mother and child.
After an incredible day of learning, the people who had attended the meeting gathered to decide which issues that the statewide collaborative would focus on. It was decided that hospitals & healthworkers would be supported in becoming Baby-Friendly certified (with the help of CHAMPS), shaping up the support available to families with babies in the NICU, reducing severe hypertension (high blood pressure) in pregnancy, and practicing the “Golden Hour” of skin-to-skin bonding between mother and baby after birth. Definitely some worthwhile practices!
Some choice quotes from MSPQC 2014:
“We’re about to have more c-sections than routine births in Mississippi. Could we turn that around, please? … Policy changes in hospitals make a difference.” –Mary Currier, MD, MPH, Mississippi State Health Officer, Mississippi State Dept of Health
“Having a patient and family representative in the room changes the conversation in every way.”
“Change is disturbing when it’s done to us. Change is exhilarating when it’s done by us.”