Ginger Breedlove, Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations at Baby+Company, has a long history of caring for the needs of women across the globe. As a nurse for over 40 years and a midwife for almost as long, she’s dedicated her life to the health and wellness of mothers and children. While serving as the immediate past president of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, she and her colleagues often gathered to discuss the growing incidence of maternal deaths in the United States. After attending a conference where a speaker bemoaned that despite all the talk, there was no action, she was inspired to do something. The Mother’s Day March for Moms was born.
B+C: Hello, Dr. Breedlove! We’re so excited to share the news of this event with the birthing community. What inspired you to cofound this rally?
GB: Throughout my career, I’ve heard the same things over and over again. Everyone talks about improving maternity care through policy and advocacy, but it’s mainly providers talking to each other. Most people out there don’t know anything about the problems and issues. I look at something like the opioid epidemic, which has received so much media attention lately. Sixty thousand women have died or suffered a severely devastating consequence as a result of childbirth, and that’s almost triple the number of people who have died due to opiates. It’s all about awareness. These organizations and providers are coming together to get national attention. If we do nothing else but change the dial on awareness, we’ll have achieved our first goal.
B+C: How has maternity care changed over the past 25 years? What do you think is the cause of these changes?
GB: Maternal mortality is actually increasing. More moms are dying now than were dying 25 years ago, although we have better technology and we’re spending more money. There are several theories about why this could be. I believe the most profound reason – and the least talked about – is institutional racism and inequities in health care for marginalized populations, specifically African Americans. Most African Americans live down south, and that’s where the majority of maternal deaths are located. Access to care is limited. Government funding for agencies and facilities providing services to rural or uninsured populations has been on the decline for quite some time.
Other issues include increases in obesity, pre-existing hypertension, women who have chronic stress, and other variables that influence a woman’s health prior to and during pregnancy. There are a lot of theories about why the death rate is rising, but we aren’t funding any maternal mortality review committees so we can analyze those trends and pinpoint why this is happening.
We have a lot of organizations who have best practice answers, from medicine to social work to mental health. These programs need to be integrated into systems so that we can do better, instead of leaving it up to states and private entities. Maternity care should be a right.
B+C: What kinds of legislation are you lobbying for?
GB: The bills we’re looking to pass are as bipartisan as possible, and don’t have a lot of budget attached to them. We want to increase the number of providers in professional shortage areas. This bill has passed the House and is in the Senate. There’s a bill about preventing maternal death that focuses on access to care. Paid family and medical leave – we’re the only first-world country that doesn’t require anything in the way of paid leave. We’re also looking at a breastfeeding act that requires public buildings to provide a space for lactating mothers to breastfeed. Mental health legislation passed last session, and we’re requesting that that act not be repealed.
B+C: How do you hope the March will change things for current and prospective mothers?
GB: We want to move forward on the bill that’s made it through the House, and we want to advance legislation immediately. That would be a huge success. We want as many women to come out to the March as possible so we can prove to congressional leaders that this is a big deal. These bills will improve the lives of moms and babies. They are important and deserve to be endorsed and supported.
We also want to influence consumer awareness. Your pregnancy and your baby are important, regardless of where you live, what race you are, or how much money you make. Ladies: if you are anywhere near Washington, DC over Mother’s Day weekend, come join us! Listen to speakers and stories from other women and let your voice be heard on this issue that affects us all.
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.