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Some women are more at risk than others when it comes to being pregnant. Black moms are up to four times more likely to die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth and another group, Native American and Alaska Native women, are also dying from complications in childbirth at a disproportionate rate.

Native American and Native Alaskans make up just 2% of the total U.S. population but account for the second highest number of maternal deaths in the only industrialized country where maternal deaths, overall, are rising. They are approximately 3.3 and 2.5 times more likely, respectively, to die while pregnant or as new moms than white women are.

Alarming statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in May 2019 show that between 2011–2015, black women had the highest maternal death rate at 43 deaths per 100,000 live births, followed by American Indian and Alaska Native women at nearly 33 deaths. Thirteen white mothers died in the same time period.

"Racial disparities in maternal mortality are staggering" 

"More women die in the US from pregnancy-related complications than in any other developed country," the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states on its website. According to the ACOG, the "racial disparities in maternal mortality are staggering…"

According to the CDC, 60% of maternal deaths are preventable. The leading causes of deaths during pregnancy, birth and the first year after childbirth include cardiovascular conditions, infection, and hemorrhage, but preventative strategies—including improving access to care and how it is coordinated and delivered—could save lives.

And in order to save lives, we have to acknowledge that Native American and Native Alaskan moms are dying because the health care system is failing them.

Meet Nicolle Gonzales 

Nicolle Gonzales is a Dine' Nurse-Midwife and the founder of the non-profit Changing Woman Initiative (CWI), in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A Native American-centered women's health collective, CWI aims to improve the health of expectant mothers, but Gonzales tells Motherly that she's been frustrated by a lack of information around native women's health available to medical professionals.

"When I attended conferences where they claimed to focus on Native American women's health, I found them sharing data that did not tell the full story about why our health outcomes were so bad," said Gonzales. "Further, blames seemed to be placed on native women and that it was their behavior that was the cause. I also saw the same old health frameworks being used to address known health disparities and then they would sit back and wonder why the outcomes were still terrible."

Gonzales witnessed many Native American women struggling with navigating the western medical healthcare system throughout her career. She saw assimilation practices from birth and on, that stopped Native American families from "bringing their loved ones into this world in a culturally supported and ceremonial way."

The disconnect helped inspire Gonzales to launch CWI in the fall of 2018.

Prenatal care can be culturally centered and accessible

It's on a mission to renew cultural birth knowledge, promote reproductive wellness, to support healing through holistic approaches and to strengthen women's bonds to family and community. The non-profit organization also provides training to increase the number of Indigenous midwives and encourage policy advocacy related to native women's health.

Gonzales believes some of the reasons behind the higher rates of birth mortality in Native American women are socio/economically and culturally linked. There are longer wait times to see obstetricians and/or midwives in native communities because of the remoteness of some reservations, she explains. Sometimes it's a lack of having a Medicaid card at the time of appointment, having no transportation or not making prenatal care a priority, Gonzales continues.

She believes taking the initial steps to seek medical care are crucial and wants to see moms better supported to do so. "First-trimester prenatal visits are very important. They identify health risks early, genetic screenings can be done sooner, and social circumstances and resources can be brought in," Gonzales says.

According to Gonzales' expertise, native women are at higher risk for adverse birth outcomes due to higher rates of gestational diabetes, hypertension, obesity, blood clotting disorders, drug addictions and limited access to healthcare education.

A less talked about cause of birth mortality rates for Native American women is intimate partner violence, she added. "There are limited places Native American women can go for safety and they are more likely to experience this or die from violence during their pregnancy."

The Changing Woman Initiative

The CWI also provides expectant mothers with access to healthy foods, plants and traditional medicines and time with a traditional doctor commonly called 'a medicine person.' It's a one-of-a-kind approach to a serious problem and the CWI is working to change the statistics from within its own community.

In the next three years, it aims to provide an Indigenous doula and peer counselor training to over 100 women in New Mexico.

The CDC study states that reducing pregnancy-related deaths requires reviewing and learning from each death, improving women's health, and reducing social inequities across the life span, as well as ensuring quality care for pregnant and postpartum periods, and for providers and patients to work together to optimally manage chronic health conditions.

America cannot save the lives of Native mothers if it doesn't understand why they are at risk, and supporting women who can provide culturally appropriate care—and listening to them—is vital.

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People often say that having a second child doesn't much add to the workload of parenting. There's no steep learning curve: You already know how to make a bottle, install a car seat and when to call the pediatrician. And you're already doing laundry, making lunches and supervising bath time—so throwing a second kid in the tub isn't a big deal.

Except that it is. Having a second child doesn't just mean attaching a second seat to your stroller. Adding a whole new person to your family is more complicated than that, and it's okay to say that it is hard.

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A study out of Australia disputes the popular idea that after making the transition from people to parents, making the jump from one child to two is easy. The researchers found that having a second child puts a lot of pressure on parents' time and their mental health, and mothers bear the brunt of the burden.

When looking at heterosexual couples, the researchers found that before a first child is born both partners feel equal amounts of "time pressure," but once the child is born, that pressure grows, more so for mothers than fathers.

Basically, parents feel psychological stress when they feel they don't have enough time to do all they need to. One baby makes both parents feel more stress, but mom's increase is more than dad's. When a second baby comes, that time pressure doubles for both parents, and since mom already had more than dad, there's now a gulf between them.

The researchers behind this study—Leah Ruppanner, Francisco Perales and Janeen Baxter—say that after a first child is born, a mother's mental health improves, but after a second child, it declines.

Writing for The Conversation, the trio explains:

"Second children intensify mothers' feelings of time pressure. We showed that if mothers did not have such intense time pressures following second children, their mental health would actually improve with motherhood. Fathers get a mental health boost with their first child, but also see their mental health decline with the second child. But, unlike mothers, fathers' mental health plateaus over time. Clearly, fathers aren't facing the same chronic time pressure as mothers over the long-term."

The researchers say that even when mothers reduce their work time, the time pressure is still there and that "mothers cannot shoulder the time demands of children alone."

Adding a second child to the family isn't just a matter of throwing a few more socks in the laundry: It means a schedule that is already stretched is now filling up with twice as many appointments, twice as many school functions. Mothers only have 24 hours in the day, and as much as we wish we could add a couple extra hours per child, we can't.

Time simply can't change to help us, but society can. As the researchers noted, when time pressure is removed, motherhood actually improves mental health.

We love our lives, we love our kids, we love parenting, but there is only so much of our day to go around.

Ruppanner, Perales and Baxter suggest that if society were to help mothers out more, our mental health (and therefore our children's wellbeing as well) would improve even after two or three kids. "Collectivising childcare – for example, through school buses, lunch programs and flexible work policies that allow fathers' involvement – may help improve maternal mental health," the researchers explain, adding that "it is in the national interest to reduce stressors so that mothers, children and families can thrive."

Whether you're talking about Australia or America, that last bit is so true, but this research proves that the myth about second-time parenthood isn't. Even if you already have the skills and the hand-me-downs, having a second child isn't as easy as it is sometimes made out to be.

We can love our children and our lives and still admit when things aren't easy.

[This post was first published December 18, 2018.]


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As parents we don't start our families thinking we will lose our partner or a child when they are still in their prime, but that is what happened to Vanessa Bryant when tragedy struck her family on Sunday. We feel incredible pain and sadness for Vanessa who is now dealing with the unimaginable at less than a year postpartum. It's impossible to conceive of the grief that Vanessa and her daughters are feeling today and our hearts are with them.

America is mourning the loss of the basketball superstar and his daughter Gianna, who was only 13 years old. The two were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

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Gianna, or Gigi as her family called her, brought her father back to basketball after his retirement and was showing the world that girls can be amazing athletes.

As her father explained on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Gianna's goal was to play in the WNBA and her father was sure she could make that happen. Bryant told Kimmel: "The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans will come up to me, and she'll be standing next to me. And they'll be like, 'Man, you gotta have a boy. You and V gotta have a boy, man, have somebody carry on your tradition, the legacy.' And she's like, 'Oy, I got this. You don't need no boy for that. I got this." And I'm like, 'That's right. Yes, you do. You got this.'"

Like her father, Gianna was an incredibly talented basketball player. Her basketball teammate, Alyssa Altobelli, along with her parents, Keri and Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli were also killed. It's an unimaginable loss of young talent and knowledge for the basketball community, a nation and the victims' families.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant just welcomed their fourth child, baby Capri Kobe Bryant, in July 2019. "We are beyond excited that our baby girl 'Koko' has arrived!!," Kobe announced on Instagram.

The hearts of an entire nation and much of the world are with them in this terrible moment. Bryant was beloved and the news of his death and Gianna's is hitting many people incredibly hard.

If you are having trouble coping with the news today mama, remember that It is okay to turn it off. It is okay to go offline and turn your attention to your family. It's okay to talk about how hard this is hitting you and to take time to give yourself some extra care as you process this. Grief looks different for everyone and even those who never met Bryant were touched by his cultural impact and legacy.

News

If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama. From reality TV stars to bloggers and A-list actresses, there is a baby boom happening in celebrity circles right now.

Amy Schumer, Snooki and Christina Anstead are just a few of the celebrity moms who recently welcomed little ones and there are a ton more who are still waiting to meet their kiddos.

Here are some fellow parents-to-be expecting in 2020:

America Ferrera will be a mom of 2 in 2020 

America Ferrera and her husband Ryan Piers Williams already have one little boy, 1-year-old Sebastian, and soon he will be a big brother!

"Welcoming Baby #2 in 2020! 🥰" she captioned a family photo released early in the year.

Congratulations, mama!

Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson will be a dad in 2020! 

Moden Family may be ending but Jesse Tyler Ferguson's family is just beginning. In January the sitcom star announced he's expecting a baby with his husband, Justin Mikita.

"This is something I haven't even mentioned to anyone, if we could just keep it between the three of us and you all, but I'm actually expecting a baby in July with my husband," he said on The Late Late Show.


Laura Prepon is expecting her second child 

Actors Laura Prepon and Ben Foster share 2-year-old daughter Ella and will soon share one more little one.

Prepon announced her pregnancy on Instagram:. "We are so excited to announce that our family is growing. Life is beautiful!"

Report: Michelle Williams is engaged + pregnant 🎉

Mom of one Michelle Williams will soon be a mom of two!

News of the actress' pregnancy and engagement to Tony Award-winning director Thomas Kail was first reported by People and confirmed by E! News. The actress split from her former husband musician Phil Elverum nearly a year ago.

Williams and Kail previously worked together when Kail directed Fosse/Verdon, in which Williams starred. She won an Emmy for that performance and her powerful Emmy acceptance speech inspired working moms everywhere by acknowledging "what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feels safe enough to voice them, and respected enough that they'll be heard."

Williams' incredible speech ended with a shout out to her 14-year-old daughter, Matilda, who she shared with the late Heath Ledger: "Matilda, this is for you, like everything else."

Matilda was just 2 years old when she and Williams lost Ledger in 2008.

In the years since his death, Williams has protected their daughter's privacy with the same intensity she brings to her work. In addition to her Emmy win, she has won a Golden Globe and been nominated for four Academy Awards since becoming a mother.

Williams has demonstrated that motherhood is no impediment to professional success and we can't wait to see what she does as a mother of two!

Hope Solo is pregnant with twins! 🎉

Soccer superstar Hope Solo just announced she is pregnant...and expecting twins!

She broke the news during the beIN Sports show Weekend Winners, which she co-hosts.

She's having a boy and a girl and can't wait to meet her "miniature soccer team".

"Yes, my husband and I get to practice equality from the very beginning with one boy and one girl," Solo explained during the segment, which was posted to Twitter.

This is a rainbow pregnancy for Solo, who miscarried twins in 2018.

We are so happy for Hope and her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens.

Can't wait to see this mini soccer team in action!

Bekah Martinez is pregnant again! 🎉

Bekah Martinez first pregnancy announcement shocked the world in September 2018 and now she's just announced she's expecting again!

The Bachelor alum and her partner Grayston Leonard are having another baby, as seen in a sonogram Bekah posted to Instagram.

"Thankful," she captioned the pic.

The baby will join older sister Ruth who was born in February.

Jenna Dewan and Steve Kazee are having a baby! 

The last two years have seen a lot of changes for Jenna Dewan. In April 2018 she and former husband Channing Tatum announced they had "lovingly chosen to separate as a couple". Later that year she was publicly linked to boyfriend Steve Kazee.

Now, another change is on the horizon for Dewan as she and Kazee are expecting their first child together. The baby will join 6-year-old Everly, who Dewan co-parents with Tatum.

"We are beyond overjoyed and couldn't be happier to be expanding our family!" Dewan and Kazee told People.

That's pretty much all the couple is saying at this point, and we can't blame them. They've confirmed the pregnancy to media outlets, but haven't shared much or made any announcements on Instagram but we can't wait to see what Dewan decides to share as she embarks on this journey.

Every pregnancy is different, so even though she's not a first-time mom, Dewan may be in for some surprises. The one thing we know for sure is that her life is about to change again, in a big way.

Congratulations to Jenna and Steve! 🎉

Eva Amurri Martino will soon be a mom of 3!

Blogger Eva Amurri Martino, aka Happily Eva After, just announced she and her sportscaster husband Kyle Martino and expecting a their third baby.

"I'm so thrilled to announce our most exciting collab yet. Head to HappilyEvaAfter.com for the full video and reveal," she wrote in an Instagram caption teasing the announcement.

On her blog she wrote: "Our family is ecstatic to share this 'collab' that has been brewing now for several months!"

Baby no. 3 will join the couple's two older children, 2-year-old Major James and 5-year-old Marlowe.

Congrats Eva!

[A version of this post was originally published October 21, 2018. It has been updated. ]

News

When infectious diseases make headlines parents naturally get a little worried, and this week coronavirus is in the news constantly. The coronavirus has infected more than 600 people worldwide, though mostly in China. As of Jan. 23, Chinese authorities have reported 17 deaths from the virus so far. Only two cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and officials are monitoring 63 suspected cases.

Here's what you need to know, mama.

1. Don't panic.

According to the World Health Organization the coronavirus outbreak is not an international public health emergency.

"CDC believes the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time, but the situation is evolving rapidly," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a conference call with media on Friday. "We have our best people working on this problem," Messonnier explained, adding that we will likely see more cases in the coming days.

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2. There have been no fatalities in children.

The youngest victim of a confirmed case of novel coronavirus is 36 years old. Most of the fatal cases in China have been in people over 60 and more men than women have been impacted.

3. The family of coronaviruses is a spectrum of severity.

According to the CDC, most people will be infected with a coronavirus at some point in their lives. The common strains of coronavirus cause "moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold" while more severe strains, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrom (MERS) can be fatal.

The strain that is making headlines is a severe and novel coronavirus. It's new and the similarities to influenza make it difficult for experts to distinguish it from all the other respiratory illnesses floating around this time of year.

4. There is a test for it.

When public health officials suspect someone may have coronavirus they can send respiratory and serum samples to the CDC and find out if it's coronavirus or just the flu within about 24 hours.

5. There are steps to take for prevention.

To prevent the spread of the virus the U.S. State Department has issued its most severe travel advisory for the area of China (the province of Hubei, where the city of Wuhan is) most impacted by the coronavirus.

The CDC offers the following tips for protecting your family from the coronavirus (as well as other respiratory illnesses):

  • "Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds."
  • "Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands."
  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick."
Bottom line: Don't panic, mama. The illness is likely to be in the headlines for months, but that doesn't mean we need to live in fear. We just need to be proactive and keep washing those little hands.
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