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Women’s Health

Shocked by numbers on Black maternal mortality, anti-abortion activist starts South Dallas nonprofit



Cessilye Smith once asked her friends on Facebook what it would be like to have a birth house under the hood.

She had long been involved in anti-abortion activism when she experienced a moment that changed her life and work.

She recalls holding her little girl at a conference when she found out about the maternal death rate in the United States, and more specifically that it was higher among black women.

“And that’s when it gutted me,” said Smith. “It shocked me, I had no idea. I was a very green doula then, you know, fresh out of the gate. And it changed how I stood up for women. It changed it completely, I’ll never look back. “

This led to the founding of Abide, a nonprofit in South Dallas that, among other things, provides prenatal and postnatal health services to pregnant women. Smith founded Abide in 2018, and the organization opened a health center in 2020.

In 2020 alone, she and her team have served 608 people, taught 82 breastfeeding classes, and doubled the team to over 60 among staff, interns, volunteers and board members.

In addition to being a advocate for women’s health, Abide also deals with environmental issues that can affect the needs of their customers.

“The moment I began to see the systemic problems that black women and people of color face, I began to see that there were flaws in the way I stood up for women and that this could be vastly improved “Said Smith.

For Smith, her religious life led her to take part in anti-abortion activism.

“And that’s all right, but having an unborn child without understanding the systemic problems that even lead people to consider abortion is ridiculous. And I think I know at a time when I’ve faced a lot of ignorance in my activism, ”she said.

Although Smith is against abortion, Abide is not directly involved in the abortion debate, and she describes the organization as the space where abortionists and proponents of abortion can do tangible work. She says Abide has both prospects when they work at her South Dallas center.

The need

Abide was born out of Smith’s passion to provide resources that would prevent maternal mortality for black women and those in the South Dallas community. Her research made her want to learn more.

“It started me figuring out why things are like this here in South Dallas as opposed to things north of 30,” said Smith.

Smith cites issues like red lining, food deserts, and food insecurity as the main drivers causing more women and babies to die in the black community.

Because of these social determinants of health, black mothers are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But maternal mortality isn’t the only concern for Smith.

According to the University of Texas System Population Health, there are 13 infant mortality rates for every 1,000 births in Abide’s neighborhood.

Texas now has one of the highest teenage birth rates in the country. The South Dallas zip code, where Abide is located, has a teen pregnancy rate of 96 to 120 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19, one of the highest in the county, according to the 2016 Dallas County Community Health Needs Assessment.

The work

Abide operates as an accessible clinic and exists to improve childbirth outcomes for a community that receives the lowest level of care. They offer donation-based prenatal care, postnatal care, parenting and breastfeeding courses, among other things, and connect their patients to resources in the community.

Paige Jackson, the clinic’s director, says visiting her patients isn’t much different than going to an OB practice.

“So when they come in we take vital signs, blood pressure readings, draw any lab work needed for that appointment, any blood tests,” she said.

But Abide also uses the midwife model, which emphasizes touch.

“Midwives often use their hands to see what is going on in the body. “Said Jackson.

Jackson said she was a “birth freak” all of her life and grew up with many births. Her great-great-grandmother was a midwife, so it was no surprise that she went to school to become one too.

Jackson is well aware of the impact her work has on mothers in South Dallas. Her own story plays a role in why she is passionate about what she does.

“My daughter was also a statistic, she died of premature birth,” she said.

She said the kind of services Abide offers could possibly have helped her when she was struggling with a difficult pregnancy.

“I was on Medicaid then,” said Jackson. “And so my OB really didn’t have time to communicate.”

Jackson wants the women Abide sees to have a different experience than her.

“I want to help give women a voice who didn’t have what we needed during this time,” she said.

The services

In addition to prenatal and postnatal care, Abide has teamed up with Delighted to Doula, a non-profit postpartum doula service operated from Abide.

The partnership offers mothers free postpartum doula support services or just postpartum services, said Prinscilla Moore, the founder of the nonprofit.

After a baby is born, the doulas go to the home and support the mother. There are a number of things you can do for the mother, from washing clothes to health risks.

Moore stated that the service is focused on the mother’s recovery, not just the baby’s health. The doulas monitor blood pressure and bleeding and inform the mothers of what is normal and what requires special attention from a doctor.

“We are fighting maternal mortality,” said Moore. “That’s why it’s very important that we get there. As soon as the baby is born, we want to be there on the first or second day when it goes home. “

Moore said the program gives every mother a year of doula service. In the first few months, the doulas go out several times a week and gradually fewer and fewer.

Delighted to Doula and Abide have partnered with five grants for women in South Dallas to become doulas and send them back to their community to help mothers.

Moore said her passion for being a doula stems from her own experiences with postpartum depression. When she had her first child at the age of 23, her mother had already passed away.

“I had all of my girls without a mother. And just to know that you have someone to talk to and someone is there to support you, ”she said, tears streaming down her face. “There is a whole community that is suffering. You have no access. You have no resources. “

Part of Abide’s mission is to connect her patients to other resources in the community as well, such as maternity homes, clothing, food, counseling, or anything a new mom or family might need.

Tiara Rivers, the community resource manager who started out as an intern at Abide, is committed to making more resources available to customers.

Rivers said Abide provides care and attention that some medical offices don’t.

To her, it might look like going out and bringing a patient some food before she leaves, or making a list of things the mother or baby might need and going out and finding them. One day when a patient couldn’t find the Abide offices, Rivers not only told her to reschedule her appointment, but went looking for them.

Rivers works closely with client resource specialist Contessa Fowler, whose job it is to speak to clients about their specific needs.

“The client can address something like food insecurity or job insecurity or whatever it is, or resources needed. And so I connect them to these resources and make recommendations, ”she said.

Fowler is also the lead instructor at Abide. She teaches nutrition and answers questions about what to expect during pregnancy. Her motivation to work at Abide stems from her own history with infertility and the way other women’s health professionals dismissed her concerns as a black woman when she tried to educate herself and advocate treatment.

“I’ve had these things where I stood up for myself and was then discharged from a doctor’s office that was the only place I could actually get help with the service I needed,” she said.

Even though she went to the best medics in the area, Fowler said she still felt unheard. It took her years to find those who took her seriously. Abide can be used for women.

“It has not escaped my notice that I was experiencing maternal health trauma because I experienced it myself,” she said.

The future and beyond

Abide plans to expand its donation-based care and offer health checkups to women starting February 2022, Jackson said.

“It’s kind of revolutionary because there really aren’t that many people who provide good women’s care on a scale that we can put on an inexpensive donation base,” said Jackson.

In May, the organization launched its $ 1 million capital campaign to build its own midwifery center. The campaign’s motto is “Rest, Resistance, Restoration”. Just over $ 300,000 has been raised to date.

Smith says she’s not afraid to dream big.

“The freedom we have created here gives us a safe place to dream big. And so as not to be afraid of it, I hope that we will acquire our building and open our birthplace in 2023, ”she said.

Going forward, Smith would like to open another center in Fort Worth, with bigger dreams of going national.

Although Abide is not a faith-based organization, Smith says the name comes from John 15: 7.

“If you stay in me and my word stays in you, then ask what you want and it will be given,” said Smith.

Smith says that scriptural truths are embedded in the core values ​​of her organization.

“I can’t separate my faith from my work, and when I think of ‘staying’ I think of a place, a haven, a place where women of all faiths can walk, gender identities can come together and feel safe,” she said .

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Women’s Health

Do official vital records of maternal death detect specific effects of new pandemic viruses?



Using a statistical technique called interrupted time series (ITS), the researchers identified a sustained decline in the maternal mortality rate (MMR) from 1980 to 2009 (blue dots), the year of the H1N1 pandemic. During this event, the MMR rose exponentially (red point) and then resumed an even more accelerated downward trend from 2010 (sky points). Photo credit: MELISA Institute

New viruses can affect women’s health and lead to an increase in complications and deaths during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium. This is shown by a population-based nature experiment on the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic conducted on the basis of Argentine national vital records of maternal mortality. The research was published in The Lancet Regional Health — Americas.

In this joint study – led by Dr. Elard Koch, Senior Epidemiologist at the MELISA Institute (Chile) and conducted by a team of researchers affiliated with academic centers in Argentina, Peru and Chile – a 38-year time series of Argentine vital records was used to assess the trend in maternal mortality (the Ratio between the number of maternal mortality and live births at the national level multiplied by 100,000 per year) for specific causes to be assessed before, during and after the global outbreak of the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in 2009.

According to Dr. Koch, knowing the sensitivity of vital signs of live births and maternal mortality is of vital importance in order to investigate the potential harmful effects of a new pathogen on particular organs or systems, stages of pregnancy, comorbidities and ultimately on the offspring. “Vital records have improved over the past few decades, confirming a decrease in maternal mortality in most Latin American countries. However, it is not clear whether this improvement led to an increased sensitivity in the detection of specific effects of new virus-induced pandemics, ”the epidemiologist emphasizes.

Unlike randomized experiments or clinical trials, where researchers have full control over an intervention, natural population experiments use long discontinuous time series (ITS) to measure the effect of a causal factor by looking at the underlying mortality trends before and after the introduction of one exogenous event that affects an entire population. This type of design is therefore ideal for quantifying the impact of new public guidelines or natural disasters such as epidemics caused by new viruses.

In terms of the methodology used, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic provides the latest epidemiological for Maria Elena Critto, PhD student at MELISA Institute and lead author of the article, ahead of the current public health crisis triggered by SARS-CoV-2 Experiences to assess whether the official Argentine Ministry of Health records are sensitive enough to identify specific maternal health consequences of a newly emerging pathogen. “The results obtained not only showed a significant and transient impact of a pandemic virus on maternal health, but also confirm that Argentine vital records can be used to assess specific effects of the current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and other emerging pathogens in to investigate the region’s future, “added the researcher.

The study confirmed the so-called “obstetric transition”, which is mainly characterized by changes in the dominance of deaths from direct obstetric causes to indirect causes. In fact, there was a 58.6% decrease in all-cause maternal mortality over the 38 years studied. The main causes of maternal mortality that contributed to this decline were bleeding (10.2 to 2.3 per 100,000 live births, 77.7%) and miscarriages (from 24.5 to 4.3 per 100,000 live births, 82.6%). However, there was an increase in indirect causes (2.6 to 7.7 per 100,000 live births, 197%) due to comorbid conditions outside of pregnancy, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, and other chronic conditions.

The Argentine data are in line with recent studies in Chile, Mexico and Brazil, making them an excellent example of the progress made in reducing maternal mortality in Latin America over the past few decades. The challenge now is to prevent deaths from chronic diseases, which can complicate pregnancy and which are increasingly common in the region due to the postponement and accelerated aging of motherhood.

For Adolfo Etchegaray, specialist researcher in maternal and fetal medicine at the University of Austral (Universidad Austral), the research clearly shows a change in the scenario with regard to the specific causes and challenges of maternal morbidity and mortality. “It is important that this information is taken into account by decision-makers as a starting point for the prioritization of strategies and policies in the area of ​​public health for the primary prevention of this population group for the next few years,” emphasized the Argentine specialist.

Specific but temporary fatal effects

One of the most relevant results of the study is to illustrate how a pandemic pathogen can have very specific, abrupt and temporarily fatal effects on the historical evolution of a country’s maternal mortality.

During the period under review (from 1980 to 2017), the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic recorded a peak in the Argentine maternal mortality rate, which then quickly fell. “Overall maternal mortality declined at a constant rate of -0.94 per 100,000 live births, reversed abruptly in 2009 with an increase of 12.74 per 100,000 live births, and then resumed a downward trend,” said Yordanis Enriquez, Ph.D. and researcher at Sedes Sapientiae Catholic University (Peru) who carried out the statistical analyzes of the ITS.

When analyzing the specific causes of death, researchers found that the increase in maternal mortality was almost entirely limited to respiratory complications and sepsis, with no other causes of death affected. Dr. Koch explained that maternal death from sepsis during pregnancy is becoming rarer thanks to the advancement and development of antibiotics, but the pandemic H1N1 virus had a distinct and significant regressive effect on these types of complications. “During pregnancy, physiological and immunological changes predispose the pregnant woman to systemic infections, which can be exacerbated by influenza, which is more common and at higher risk during pregnancy,” noted the epidemiologist.

Regarding the importance of the study for the epidemiological surveillance of the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic virus, the researchers agree that it is important to investigate the specific harms this coronavirus has on maternal health. “It is important to determine whether the new pandemic coronavirus may also increase maternal mortality from sepsis and other chronic non-respiratory comorbidities, and to know whether these complications are susceptible to endemic variants over time,” said researcher Ruth Weinberg, OB / GYN medical doctor from the University of Buenos Aires.

There are already reports of spikes in maternal mortality in Mexico and Brazil, apparently related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “In contrast to the H1N1 pandemic virus, the new SARS-CoV-2 pandemic coronavirus does not appear to be restricted to the respiratory tract only; new studies may let us know more about its specific consequences during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium, ”says Dr. Koch emphasizes.

Finally, María Elena Critto noted that early organized health care needs a major effort to prevent maternal deaths and to monitor the effects of emerging pandemic viruses on women during pregnancy. “In the case of Argentina, the maternal mortality record was of acceptable quality to reflect very specific changes in MMR caused by an emerging outbreak of infection, and therefore this record may be useful in assessing specific effects of the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and evaluate any other emerging outbreak of infection in the future, “concluded the researcher.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased maternal mortality in Mexico

More information:
María Elena Critto et al., Impact of emerging viral pandemics on causal time series of maternal mortality: a population-based natural experiment with national vital statistics, Argentina 1980-2017, The Lancet Regional Health – Americas (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.lana.2021.100116

Provided by the MELISA Institute

Quote: Do Official Maternal Death Data Detect Specific Effects of New Pandemic Viruses? (2021, November 29) Retrieved November 29, 2021 from

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Women’s Health

The Royal strives for ‘hospital without walls’ to address mental health issues, substance use — and stigma



Canadians from all walks of life experience mental health problems and substance use. And in Ottawa, The Royal is at the forefront of building what its CEO calls the “hospital without walls” to address those challenges – and the stigma – wherever people are.

It is a mission that makes fundraising critical to The Royal’s ambitious approach to service delivery.

“The silos of mental illness and drug use end at The Royal because we believe there should be no limits to treatment,” said Joanne Bezzubetz, president and CEO of The Royal, the Carling Avenue facility that Ottawa’s primary treatment for mental health and capital research is region.

Bezzubetz stated that every year thousands of people in and around Ottawa receive services from The Royal without ever entering the complex on Carling. The Royal works with other mental health professionals, health care providers and social services to care for people in shelters, long-term care facilities and at home.

“The Royal is there to provide this type of care,” said Tracey Welsh, community building director for the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health. “The Royal’s mental health community component is a really integral part. Sometimes people think it’s just that great building on Carling Avenue. But it’s so much more. “

One in five Canadians experiences mental health problems each year, according to the Canadian Mental Health Commission. Susan Farrell, vice president of patient care and community psychiatry for the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, said the number is rising.

The pandemic is really difficult for everyone. With this, we see both the deterioration in people’s mental health and the development of new mental health problems, including substance use.

– Susan Farrell, vice president of patient care and community mental health at The Royal

“The pandemic is really difficult for everyone,” she said. “With this we see both the deterioration in people’s mental health and the development of new mental problems, including substance use.”

A report from Public Health Ontario found that “Ontarians have a high burden of disease associated with mental illness and addiction.” The report concluded that while effective treatment options are available, only a small proportion of those affected receive them.

The Welshwoman said she saw a sharp surge in demand for mental health services in her 15 years at The Royal. She said the center lacks the capacity to provide assistance to everyone in need.

She said this underscores the importance of awareness raising, as well as funding for mental health care and research. And the Welshwoman added that she hoped the situation will continue to improve.

“People are really taking solace in supporting the Royal’s events and mental health in general,” she said. “Watching events grow – our fundraising increases – are real signals that people are becoming much more aware, much more open to donations and much more open to support.”

The Royal is expanding its services to be more accessible, and this is where things like a recent fundraising breakfast come in very handy, Welsh said.

“Sometimes people think it’s just that great building on Carling Avenue, but it’s so much more.”

– Tracey Welsh, The Royal

The Royal’s most recent 14th annual Leaders for Mental Health Breakfast raised $ 733,411, and rising in the weeks following the virtual event.

The proceeds from breakfast will be distributed among several mental health services at The Royal, including the Rapid Access Addiction Medicine Clinic and the Prompt Care Clinic.

The Royal Ottawa Hospital is expanding its services to meet the increased demand for mental health care in the community. [Photo © Krystin Ptaszkiewicz]

Virtual services

Alternative ways of accessing psychosocial support have become increasingly important in recent years when physical going to a clinic was not an option. Virtual care via video conferences or by telephone has also been extended to existing and new patients.

The high demand for services related to substance use has prompted the federal government to open RAAM clinics across the country.

The clinics provide immediate help for people who consume substances or who suffer from substance use disorders. They have adapted to be more accessible by offering the ability to check in through “virtual front doors”.

The Royal recognized the limits of technology and specifically for people who may not have a mobile phone or have no access to the internet. The institution is now making telephones and data tariffs – donated by TELUS – available to the people who need them.

The Prompt Care Clinic was originally implemented in response to the increased demand for immediate mental health services during the first wave of the pandemic. It offered short-term virtual care, including assessment, medication, and psychotherapy.

“We’re trying to improve access to our services by making the service delivery model as flexible as possible,” said Farrell. “Another barrier is making sure the services are appropriate for the person and what they need … so that we can meet people where they are in their communities and in recovery or access to medical care Care.”

The Prompt Care Clinic received 1,000 referrals within the first six months of opening.

The Royal recently announced the launch of a version of the Prompt Care Clinic that will include additional personal services in addition to its virtual platform.

Part of the funding for this project comes from this year’s Women’s Mental Health Run. Farrell said more than two-thirds of people who presented themselves at the Prompt Care Clinic were women – a high percentage of whom had never used mental health services before.

Run for women

“In Ottawa, we have a very proud tradition of running for the mental health of women. The run is both an opportunity for conversation and a sense of community, ”said Farrell.

The annual run is the organization’s “largest fundraiser” to support the services for women at The Royal. This includes the Women’s Mental Health Program – a community-based outreach service for hospitals and women’s shelters.

In 10 years the number has grown from 600 to 6,000 in 18 cities across Canada. She stressed the importance of having programs tailored to women’s specific needs and the psychological care they receive.

To date, the Run for Women has raised more than $ 1.7 million for women’s mental health. The official date for the Women’s Mental Health Run 2022 has not yet been set, but The Royal is already encouraging the community to get involved.

Words are important

A major focus of The Royal’s fundraising campaign, including the recent breakfast event, has been on the power of words used when talking about mental health.

“We still have too much stigma surrounding access to care in our community. I am confident that a silver lining in the increased rates of mental health problems during COVID is that the conversation is much more frequent and people understand the need to have access to medical care, ”Farrell said. “I hope it will reduce stigma.”

Farrell highlighted the stigmatizing effect that the words we choose can have on people with mental health problems or illnesses, including people who use substances or have a substance disorder. The most recent breakfast focused on using the person’s first language more consciously.

The person’s first language focuses on the individual, not the condition.

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Women’s Health

Serena Williams Flaunts Her Legs In A Swimsuit In New IG Photos



  • Serena Williams is vacationing in a tropical place and shares snippets of her fans on Instagram.
  • Tennis GOAT, 40, posted a series of underwater images in a new post, and they are everything.
  • Serena recently told Women’s Health that she is following a plant-based diet and is trying to view food as fuel.

    Serena Williams is vacationing in a tropical place and shares snippets of her fans on Instagram. The latest: Serena totally whips the model poses while snorkeling.

    Tennis GOAT, 40, posted a series of underwater images in a new post, and they are everything. There’s Serena showing off her toned legs as she stretches out in a snakeskin print one-piece, Serena swimming in the ocean with her hand under her head, Serena flashing peace signs over a pile of fish, and one final shot of just Serena’s well-toned legs and bum.

    “If you ask how I got that ball … it’s underwater training :)” she joked in the caption.

    People were in the comments about it. “Stop intimidating the sharks!” Wrote one person. “Legs,” said another.

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    Obviously, Serena gets a lot of that jaw-dropping tone from logging hours on the tennis court. But that’s not all she does.

    Last year Serena posted a modified yoga-inspired workout routine (which she calls a “warm up”) on Instagram. In it, Serena and her sister, her fellow tennis legend Venus Williams, worked a series of stretches and strengthening exercises for 30 minutes.

    “I like to call [this] a warm up, but it’s a bit intense, ”said Serena at the beginning. Afterward, Serena said to her sister, “I’m going to do cardio,” because of course she did.

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    As for that cardio, Serena also shared a video on TikTok last July doing a weighted HIIT workout. She tossed a bit of everything into the mix, including interval ladder training, some ab exercises with a resistance band, weighted jump squats, box jumps, a number of plank variations, and more.

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    But Serena doesn’t just train hard: she also eats well. She recently told Women’s Health that she followed a plant-based diet and tried to use food as fuel. “Eat to live. Don’t live to eat,” she said. “I want to have a healthy lifestyle and you know [I’m eating] a lot of green and lately mostly vegetable, just super healthy stuff. “

    Serena said she doesn’t like to eat first – “When I roll out of bed, I’m just not hungry” – so lunch, which usually contains vegetables and protein, is often her first meal of the day.

    When a tournament comes up, however, she will switch to pasta.

    “I only eat pasta when I’m playing or training. Usually you never see me eating pasta. Because I feel like I’ve had to eat it so often in my career. It’s just like that, I never want to see pasta again, ”she said.

    Shortly before a competition, she sticks to a certain menu. “I usually like to eat a lot of greens before my game and then actually fruit, a little carbohydrates and some kind of protein,” she said.

    But Serena also describes her eating habits as “moody”.

    “I can have a smoothie for six months and then I think I don’t want to see a smoothie for the next six months,” she said. “And then I say, okay, I’m back to the smoothie. My food is very moody. “


    Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellbeing, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work on men’s health, women’s health, self, glamor, and more.

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