(October 2019-June 2021)
Reducing racial disparities that persist in birth outcomes
When Emily Price entered the fellowship, Count the Kicks—run by Healthy Birth Day, Inc.—was already a successful evidence-based campaign helping to prevent stillbirths. A study showed that the campaign has changed how Iowa providers talk with mothers about their pregnancies in the third trimester and how women address concerns about reduced fetal movement. Still, Price recognized that the campaign was not reaching all women and that huge disparities in prenatal outcomes exist for women of color.
Price focused her fellowship on two primary efforts:
Federal Advocacy: After a fellowship workshop with Topos Partnership highlighted the value of framing a message for advocacy, Price continued to work with Topos staff to create urgent messaging and tools that would encourage leaders to designate federal funds to support stillbirth prevention. Price distributed a video to Iowa leaders, set up individual meetings with U.S. Congressional staff, and sent a direct mail piece to key members of Congress.
Maternal Disparities: While Price was working on the federal advocacy effort, calls for racial justice intensified during summer 2020. “I can distinctly remember a Zoom meeting with fellows in June 2020 where grief was palpable, rage was present inside all of us, and many of us shed tears,” Price said. “At the center of it all was: How can we now spark the systemic change we need?”
Price knew that racism leads to a loss of babies. After learning how hospitals are training staff on anti-oppression and anti-racism, Price landed on an initiative to look deeper at racial disparities and barriers that keep pregnant women of color from having a primary care provider or accessing prenatal care. With fellows and partners, Price mapped out a pilot project to investigate the barriers and create a plan to support women in receiving preventive care, building a relationship with a provider, and reducing time in the emergency room.
Iowa’s stillbirth rate remained near an all-time low despite COVID-19. Price calls this a huge success because fewer women could access prenatal care in 2020. Federal advocacy is leading to a potential Senate resolution that will approve funding for stillbirth prevention. The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs also named Count the Kicks as a best practice. For her initiative focused on racial disparities, Price secured a commitment from all three major health systems in central Iowa and funding to begin the project.