By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE
I am still pumped and excited from my recent experience last week in Washington DC, where I participated in a DONA International Birth and Postpartum Trainers Retreat which immediately preceded the Lamaze International Advocacy Summit. The second day of the summit saw attendees paying a visit to their senators and representatives on Capitol Hill to advocate for improved maternal-infant care, increased funding and more attention to current bills that impact families and their babies. Participants also shared how doulas and childbirth educators can help improve birth outcomes. Many DONA birth and postpartum doulas were in attendance at this Advocacy Summit as well as many of our organization’s trainers. People returned from the Hill visits excited, sharing how well received they were. The next day, attendees scattered to the four corners of the globe as they returned home.
I didn’t want to lose the enthusiasm that I saw, felt and heard from our advocacy efforts. Therefore, I want to invite all blog readers, all DONA members and anyone interested in improving outcomes for parents and babies to make a conscious decision to advocate for better care and treatment for childbearing families. Here are five simple things that you can do right now to help speak up and ask for funding, resources, and support for maternal-infant health.
1. Join the DONA International Advocacy Committee.
DONA has an Advocacy Committee that is composed of several sub-committees working on various projects to improve birth and postpartum outcomes.
- Health Disparities
- Insurance Payment
- Doula Profession Promotion
- Doula Profession Credibility
- Legislative Action
- Research and Data Collection
All of these subcommittees need people power to advance their agendas. Is there one particular sub-committee that attracts you more than others? Consider joining today and begin to make a difference for families worldwide.
2. Sign up for Resistbot
There is a simple tool that helps me let my governor, my senator, my representatives and the President know how I feel about items and agendas that come before them. By signing up for Resistbot, I can easily email, text or snail mail with a few simple texts. Through a series of quick texts from my phone, I can dictate what I want to say, who I want to contact and how I want to have my message delivered. I usually send a quick note to my congresspeople in the morning, before I have finished my first cup of coffee. Resistbot makes it so easy. Give it a try and see how easy it is to share your thoughts with those who govern.
3. Become a member of your favorite advocacy organization
Many organizations are working hard to further improvements in maternal-infant health. Consider joining them by purchasing a membership or making a donation to help them fund their efforts. There are many non-profits you can put your weight behind, such as March of Dimes, March for Moms, National Partnership for Women & Families, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Care, Every Mother Counts, or the National Accreta Foundation. Choose your own favorite advocacy group or review this recent blog post from Social Good Moms that lists 41 global organizations deserving of your funding. You might even consider making a donation to DONA International!
4. Write a letter to the editor
Take a few minutes to write a letter to your local newspaper, or even a national publication expressing your viewpoint and expert opinion that childbearing families deserve better care, better outcomes and increased funding to support maternal-infant health. As a doula, you are aware that how people birth and parent really matter. Share this through a letter to the editor, and provide some resources where folks can learn more about the current status of maternal-infant health in your community.
5. Help families obtain a doula who might not have access to one
If you are in a financial and logistical position to do so, considering offering doula services to a family in need. There may be a family who cannot afford a doula, new immigrant families who don’t even know that doulas exist, a single parent who might birth or recover alone, or other circumstances where a doula could help during the birth or postpartum period. If you are not able to take on this responsibility alone, consider donating money to an existing service that provides doulas to qualified families. Or pool your money with others in your community to purchase the services of a doula and gift it to a family in need. This is advocacy on the most simple level but can have a great positive impact for someone in need.
Everyone can be an advocate
Advocacy efforts can be big or small. You can lean in with other people who are also working to improve maternal-infant health and birth and postpartum outcomes. Do something as simple as sending a text to a politician or writing a short letter. You can play a bigger part by taking a leadership role on the DONA Advocacy Committee. If every one of us took an action, of any size, collectively we can make a difference. I invite you to join me in efforts to help families locally and worldwide.
Share in the comments section how you advocate for families and let us know how you are making a difference.