When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I knew that I wanted to deliver at Baby+Company. I did my research, and found that—out of all of the options available in my area—an out of hospital birth in a supportive, yet low intervention setting, was the choice for me.

I am grateful that such an important decision was one that I could make myself, and not one that was forced upon me due to a lack of available alternatives. Sadly, not everyone is so lucky.

So, because of that, I have decided to March for Moms.

I march because the lack of access to healthcare is a real and measurable problem in the United States. Ready access to prenatal and postpartum care is essential if we hope to achieve positive health outcomes for both mom and baby. A woman who does not receive quality prenatal care is up to four times more likely to die of pregnancy related causes than the woman who received regular care. The barriers to access, including a lack of universal coverage for maternity care services and a shortage of maternity providers, are only part of the problem. Cesarean sections have a necessary place in the world of obstetrics. However, when c-sections are performed at rates sometimes triple that of what the World Health Organization recommends, the risk of maternal and neonatal complications rise as well. These factors compound with others and cause the United State to have the highest maternal mortality rate out of every industrialized country in the world. A staggering 50% of those deaths are considered preventable.

I march because I believe skin color should not be a death sentence for moms and babies.

Racial disparities exist, and women of color are three times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than white women. Racial and ethnic minorities continue to experience worse health outcomes, including higher infant mortality rates, than their white counterparts. My privilege does not exempt me from action. I march for women and families of all colors, to raise awareness for those whose voices and bodies have been systematically oppressed.

I march because the United States is the one of only eight countries in the world that does not mandate paid leave for new mothers and families. Paid leave improves the health of the family by decreasing the likelihood of postpartum depression and infant and maternal mortality rates, and increasing the rates of breastfeeding and child immunizations. I march because I believe families of every design deserve the right to bond with their babies, and establish a new normal without the added stressor of economic pressures. Bodies need time to heal, families need time to adjust, and no one should have to choose between taking that time or punching the clock. Paid leave puts the family first, which makes the family happier and healthier. I march because I believe the health of society as a whole is dependent upon the health of the family.

I march to raise awareness surrounding perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. An estimated 15-21% of pregnant women experience moderate symptoms of depression or anxiety, yet, we lack the legislation and programs to better recognize and treat the parents who suffer from perinatal disorders. I march for the mom who feels hopeless, but does not have a support system in place to get the help she needs. I march for the parent who needs someone to talk to, but does not know where to go, or has significant barriers in accessing care. I march for the partner who wants to help but does not know how. I march because families who require mental health services and support deserve to receive the care they need.

I march because all of these issues are connected. Wider and more robust access to care for all families is necessary for a healthier society. Addressing health care inequities and disparities will in turn help lower maternal and infant mortality rates. Paid family leave means parents and babies are less likely to experience complications, and more likely to seek help if they do. I march because we need to do better by our families.

I march for cisgender and transgender individuals of all colors, creeds, and socioeconomic status. I march for mothers, fathers, partners, and babies. I march for the midwife, the doctor, the doula, and the nurse who are on the front lines of the fight to provide better health care and outcomes for families.

I march for my daughter and for her future. I march with the hope that her generation will not face the same problems when they become mothers. I march to make her proud.

I am a mother, and on Mother’s Day, I will march for moms.

Join us on the Jefferson Memorial for fun and family-friendly experiences as we peacefully demonstrate the critical need to address the maternal health of families in our country. Learn more and register here!

About March for Moms
The March for Moms is the first ever multi-diverse group of professional organizations and consumer groups who hold similar passion and vision for the future health and well-being of pregnant people and their families. March for Moms was established to call attention to the deeply concerning state of family health in the United States in order to improve the health of childbearing families. We proudly stand beside the diverse American families who are doing the difficult and rewarding work of nurturing our future generations. To learn more please visit the March for Moms website.