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Roundtable discussion: American mothers face high mortality rate, lack of child care

Rebecca Barnabi
pregnant woman
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The maternal mortality rate in the United States is nearly three times higher than other high-income countries around the world.

The maternal health crisis disproportionately impacts women of color, who experience maternal morbidity at rates nearly three times higher than white women. Pregnancy-related deaths are largely preventable and often result from mental health conditions associated with pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan, who represents Virginia’s District 4, is convening a roundtable this morning of experts, community stakeholders and parents for a maternal and child health discussion. The roundtable will address the maternal and child health crises, the systemic lack of access to child care support in the U.S., their own experiences as parents, and how they can collaborate to advance robust, meaningful policy solutions.

Speakers at the roundtable in Richmond include Kenda Sutton, Founder and Executive Director, Birth in Color RVA, Stacey Brayboy, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs, March of Dimes, Juanterria Pope-Browne, Daycare Owner, Kidz with Goalz Unlimited, Heather Farber, United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg, and Kalie Owen, Social Worker, VCU Health OB Motivate Clinic.

In September 2023, McClellan introduced the bipartisan Child Care Assistance for Maternal Health Act to increase short-term child care access for mothers and their families during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. A member of the Bipartisan Congressional Pre-K and Child Care Caucus, she is also part of the 6.8% of members who are mothers to young children, and part of the less than 3 percent of mothers of color of young children.

Comprehensive support is necessary to help mothers balance their own health, bond with a new baby, care for other children and manage additional responsibilities. Psychological stress exacerbated by challenges finding in child care has been identified as one of the strongest predictors of maternal depression, and research shows child care access can have positive impacts on both maternal and child mental health.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.