Pregnancy and childbirth are important physical, emotional, and spiritual life experiences with the potential to be empowering and life-transforming. Mama Sana will provide low-income women of color support for healthy pregnancies, births and the early parenting phase. Mama Sana is bringing together a collaboration of resources to foster empowered health and wellness for all of Austin’s mothers.
In September of 2012, Mama Sana will launch free weekly prenatal clinics. This program is a collaboration between Mamas of Color Rising, volunteer midwives, and Blackstock Family Health Center with the focus of increasing access to holistic culturally competent prenatal care and education in Austin, TX.
Austin is known for being a family and child friendly city, but in actuality that reputation only applies within certain communities. According to the City of Austin demographer, the 2010 census trends include a sharper divide between the affluent and the poor, and a disproportionate and increasing number of “indigent” people in need of health care. Of the official 20% of Austin’s population living below the poverty line, more than 60% of the women were of reproductive age (18-34). Austin’s “child-friendly” status does not apply to the 28% of children living in poverty in our city.
The 2010 Census report also found that Austin has crossed the threshold to become a “Majority-Minority” city. Additionally, 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% higher – for Black women.
Access to prenatal care is a key factor in determining outcomes and over 25.9% of Latina women in Austin receive no prenatal care vs. 7.8% of white women. The Austin economic and healthcare “divide” impacts the lives of pregnant women and their future children. The abundance of pregnancy and birth support services available in Austin is not accessible to all mothers and babies. There are economic, cultural and language barriers for many women. Mama Sana women’s clinic attempts to address these barriers.
Mama Sana provides free group prenatal care appointments with individual physical exams by midwives, as well as culturally competent emotional group support. A woman at Mama Sana can also choose to have a free birth companion (doula) and regular prenatal exercise classes. Women have access to all of these services in a coordinated and timely session. Mama Sana is a pilot project seeking to support the individual and collective empowerment of low-income mothers of color while also improving pregnancy and birth outcomes for communities of color in Austin.
HOW THE MODEL WORKS
* On-site free pregnancy testing,
* Immediate access and entry into care (regardless of Medicaid status),
* Culturally based group care (ie: Black Mothers Group-in English, and Latina Mothers Group-in Spanish) addressing topics of interest to the participants,
* Mama self-health assessment circle (where each woman tracks her own weight, diet, stress, etc.),
* Private individual physical exam by midwife (in woman’s own language),
* Coordination of care with Blackstock/Brackenridge physicians who will later attend the births,
* Full access to lab work and testing if needed,
* All care occurring at one central location- Blackstock Family Health Center.
ADDITIONAL ON-SITE OPTIONS TO CARE :
* Regular prenatal exercise classes (Mama Baila Dance, prenatal yoga, etc.),
* Meeting with and securing a birth communion (doula),
* Support with childcare and transportation to the sessions.
The Pilot Project
Though there are many women needing improved prenatal care in Austin, during Year 1, Mama Sana will begin with two specific groups of women in order to attend to those most vulnerable in the city.
* September 2012- launch groups at Blackstock Family Health Center (Black Mothers Group and Latina Mothers Group)
* Year 1- all collaborators and practitioners serving as unpaid volunteers.
* January 2013- internal evaluation of project
* May 2013- first cycle reflection and evaluation. Planning for Year 2 to begin in September 2013.