Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Maternity’ Category

By Octavia

My name is Octavia, and I’m a mother.

I was 16 when I found out I was pregnant. I was terrified. I felt like there was no one on my side. Like the whole world was against me. My mother and the father were both pressuring me to get an abortion. I didn’t know what to do and felt like I needed to decide what was best for me. I then felt happiness because I thought I couldn’t have children. I was also in denial and just tried to forget about my pregnancy. If I had a little more money and a better or safer environment that would’ve helped me obtain work, maybe things would’ve been different. I didn’t have insurance to get contraceptives. In the end, I decided to become a mother because I wanted to treat somebody better than how I was treated. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

ImageI am glad that I became a mother. I don’t regret a thing about it. Tracy pushes me to go farther than I’ve ever gone. I am 19 years old now. My son is two years old. I love him so much. He saved my life and he woke me up from my downfall.

I am a single parent. No one helps me pick Tracy up or care for him. Alone, I make decisions for myself and for my son’s safety. I changed Tracy’s day care multiple times to ensure he was in an environment that was appropriate for a child, while I worked hard to get us in a better situation.

It’s been difficult as a single young mother. I had a lot of disappointing moments with my son’s family. His father and grandmother completely ignore my wishes and do whatever they want. Simple things like taking care of Tracy became a disagreement with them. The cherry on top was when they cut all of my son’s hair behind my back. I know it sounds silly, but they disregard me at all times. His father lies about helping me; in reality, we barely see him.

My mother isn’t as involved as I wish she were. Rent in New York became too expensive for us to manage so my mother decided to move to New Jersey last minute. I left with her. Commuting to New York while living in New Jersey wasn’t easy. My mother kept demanding I get a job and calling me lazy. I became fed up. Everything was too far for me to pursue the dreams I had set out for myself. I had to find another place to go stay. I knew I deserved better. Tracy and I left home.

I will not let them bring me down.

I lived a group home that made it difficult for me to attend school. I had to find an alternative place to live or get kicked out of school. I had to drop my classes in college in order to stay within the requirements of my group home.

I decided to apply for the Year Up internship. Guess what? I got in! They support low-income young adults reach their professional career goals. I’m still participating in this internship. Year Up is teaching me hard and soft skills that are going to stay with me for life. I’m getting college credits for the classes I take. I am learning about financial operations while juggling my personal problems. I’m grateful for this program, it isn’t easy to get into. I plan to go back to school in the fall. I love art and everything about it.

I hope my son grows healthy and appreciates and values life. I want to raise him in a place that offers decent food. I want to get him away from all these artificial flavors and preservatives. I dream of obtaining a decent amount of money and moving to Europe. I want to study there. I dream of becoming a fashion designer and owning my own company. No one and nothing is going to stop me.

Read Full Post »

Post By Nicole Catá

Originally from Cortlandt, NY by way of Flushing, NY, Nicole Catá now studies at The George Washington University Law School and the Elliott School of International Affairs.  During her time as an undergraduate student at Columbia University, she worked from January to August 2010 as a policy and advocacy intern at the Latina Institute.  Nicole spent this summer as a legal intern at National Advocates for Pregnant Women and will work this fall as a student attorney for the International Human Rights Clinic at GW Law School.  Nicole will serve as the president of GW Law School’s chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice during the 2013-14 school year.

Birth Justice as a Matter of Reproductive Justice

With news of Prince George’s birth dominating the Internet, it may be helpful to highlight the lived realities of birthing experiences in the United States for women of color. Given that the royal birth cost $15,000, whereas the average cost of birth in the United States is $30,000, you have to wonder whether we’re getting what we pay for.  For poor, uninsured women of color in the United States, too often the answer is “no.”

Last year, Denene Millner published a piece called “Birthing While Black” that details the abysmal treatment she received at an upper Manhattan hospital while delivering her first daughter.  Despite having paid for “upgrades” to secure the birth experience she had envisioned, Millner catalogues a litany of maltreatments she experienced the moment her baby was born.  For example, she describes as follows:

Once in the private room, the nurses disappeared for nine hours! Seriously. Nine. I had no diapers. No idea how to breastfeed properly (and no bottle or milk to feed my baby if I chose to formula feed). No instructions on what to do to care for my post-birth body (was it okay to walk? Pee? Wash?). Nothing. I seriously thought I was being punished for asking (nicely) for what I’d paid for. When a nurse finally did show up, she came with a “gift bag” full of formula and coupons for… formula.

Millner’s piece highlights the injustices too often leveled against women of color on what should be the happiest days of their lives.  The notion that she was treated so poorly after having paid for hospital upgrades speaks volumes about what poor, uninsured women of color face when giving birth in many hospitals around the country.

We know that everyone deserves access to high-quality health care, that birth justice is a matter of reproductive justice, and that health and dignity are human rights.  Millner reminds us that everyone deserves to be treated like royalty during and after their birthing experiences.

Read Full Post »

“I’ll count to 10 and you hide!”
“That’s not fair, I WAN TO COUNT!”
“I’ll count and you can count next time?”
“Ok!”
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10! Ready or not, here I come!”

The kids ran around the conference room looking for each other, oblivious to the fact that their mom’s and dad’s were in the other room getting information and building on their skills in order to raise healthier families and better futures.

Playing hide and seek in a conference room

Playing hide and seek in a conference room

However, it wasn’t all rainbow colored ponies. As I took a small break from the conference and made my way to the bathroom, I caught a conversation between two of the guards on the floor. Both were annoyed at the children. The screaming, laughing, jumping and overall awesomeness was too much for them. Complaints were exchanged about several things. Both agreed that the work environment was being disrupted because of the presence of children (I’ll mention that it was Saturday).

Some of the young families and their supporters

Some of the young families and their supporters

Were the kids really bothering anyone? No.

They were simply being kids. How do moms and dads get work done while raising a kid? Easy. They’re super heroes.

Maybe, if you opened up your mind and watched these kids laughing and playing you wouldn’t be so quick to complain. I had a headache from all the screaming but was able to function perfectly fine. Maybe, a notice should have been put up in the hallway that there was going to be kids on the floor that day. Maybe, if event spaces and public spaces were as welcoming to families as they are to food and drinks, organizers wouldn’t have to get creative and turn offices into day cares. Unsafe spaces shouldn’t have to transform into play areas only because most spaces are dominated by patriarchy. Bringing a child to a conference or event is not wrong. And feeding your child at an event or public space is not wrong. C’mon. In a country where women exhibit breasts on almost all ads, is breastfeeding really that disgusting?

Octavia and her son Tracy

Octavia and her son Tracy

Maybe, if resources were made available to young mom organizers and supporters, spaces where families are welcome would be accessible. If everyone just stopped for a moment and opened our minds and hearts to something new. To all the haters, keep in mind that young family gatherings are not about you but about the future of the kids in front of you.

photo 1

Read Full Post »

For the last couple of years, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health has been doing a lot to turn around the conversation on teen pregnancy and young motherhood. From sitting on advisory tables on reproductive health at the White House, to releasing our white paper on removing stigma, to working with legislators to introduce legislation that would help young mothers succeed, we’ve been challenging the stigmatizing narratives that paint young mothers as irresponsible, hopeless, and drains on the state.

We’ve been telling legislators, colleagues, and advocates around the nation what Latina activists on the ground have known for a long time: that the circumstances of pregnancy and birth exist within a context of racial and socioeconomic inequity; that any conversation about teen pregnancy is incomplete without a conversation about access to the full range of reproductive health care for young people, including abortion; and that young women who choose to become mothers continue to be human, and deserve as much opportunity to lead fulfilling lives as women who delay their pregnancies or choose not to parent at all.

So it is with great excitement that we present our newest campaign: What’s the Real Problem?

So that you can take this work to your community, we’ve put together a toolkit for different ways to discuss this issue in your community, from film screenings to story collecting; and a very cool poster, which has some useful facts on the back, for you to put up as a conversation-starter and use as a reference. We’ve worked really hard on these materials and are super proud of them, and we hope you’ll find them useful and accessible (they’re bilingual). We think that with these materials, you can help us steer the conversation in the right direction, and get folks asking themselves what the real problem is when it comes to young motherhood.

Let us know what you think!

Read Full Post »

By Nicole Catá, Policy Intern

In a recent Newsweek article, J. Lester Feder argues that health-policy strategies geared toward Latino communities must take into account the cultural diversity of different Latino groups.  He explains:

With Latinos now accounting for more than 15 percent of the U.S. population, there is a great deal of emphasis on health outreach to the “Hispanic community.”  But the truth is, the diversity of the Hispanic population means that to be truly effective, outreach must target many different Hispanic subcommunities. Knowing that someone is “Latino” or “Hispanic” does not tell a health-care worker what language she speaks, what foods she eats, or where she was born.

The varied experiences of Latino communities inform the approaches of organizations that work directly in areas with large Latino populations.  For example, the Institute of Hispanic Health at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) operates in communities across the U.S. with the support of 300 affiliated groups and uses a method that instructs promotores de salud, or health promoters, within the communities they assist.  NCLR trains the promoters to produce interventions that will strike a chord with the specific demographic with which they’ll be interacting.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Veronica Bayetti Flores, our Senior Policy Analyst, published this great article about young motherhood in the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Newsletter.

An excerpt:

…The current discourse surrounding young motherhood is both stigmatizing and insensitive, and presents young motherhood as a problem in itself as opposed to the real problems that often surround it, such as poverty and lack of access. Though many young women who become young mothers do not plan their pregnancies, many other young mothers do plan their pregnancies, and these decisions must be both respected and supported. Women of all ages become mothers for many reasons, and it is not the business of the state or anyone else to attempt to control anyone’s fertility, regardless of their age.

As a reproductive health organization, we support many of the policies that are put in place to “address teen pregnancy”: comprehensive sexuality education, increased affordability and access to contraception, and the expansion of public programs that address reproductive health, such as Title X and Medicaid, are a few examples of these policies. However, we support these policies as part of a platform to increase women’s ability to make informed choices that are relevant to their lives, and not as an attempt for the state to control young women’s fertility.

Read the rest here.

Read Full Post »

Earlier this month, Save the Children’s 11th Annual State of the World’s Mothers Report was released.

The United States did not make the top 10 countries on the list, nor did it land in the top 25. The US was ranked 28th, below most of Western Europe. The authors cite a 1 in 4800 maternal mortality rate (one of the highest in the developed world), as a key factor for our deplorable ranking. The report states that:

a child in the U.S. more than twice as likely as a child in Finland, Iceland, Sweden or Singapore to die before his or her fifth birthday.

The United States continues to neglect mothers by having the “least generous maternity leave policy – both in terms of duration and percent of wages paid – of any wealthy nation.”

So, what can be done to bridge this gap? The report notes that governments “need to increase funding to improve education levels for women and girls, provide access to maternal and child health care and advance women’s economic opportunities.”

Although I applaud the Obama administration for passing a health care reform bill that will allocate $11 billion in new funding to community health centers, in addition to other protections for mothers, an important population was entirely left out of the legislation: undocumented immigrants. Any improvement seen in the conditions for mothers will be lost on this population if we don’t include them in our legislative efforts.

The United States needs to step their game up by giving the mothers and children of our country the adequate care and services they obviously and so desperately need.

By Krystal Chan, Development and Communications Intern

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,340 other followers

%d bloggers like this: