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Region 7 Update April 12th, 2024
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Dr. Tanika Eaves is bringing awareness to Black Maternal Health at Fairfield University

Posted by on April 1st, 2024 Posted in: Blog, Member Spotlight, Weekly Newsletter
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Tanika EavesTanika Eaves, PhD, LCSW, IMH-E®, is a clinical social worker, Assistant Professor of Social Work Program at the Egan School for Nursing and Health Studies at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT, and an endorsed Infant Mental Health Specialist.  Dr. Eaves has a long history of supporting babies and families over her career, locally and globally, through her policy work, teaching and training of students and practitioners, and direct practice as a clinician.  Presenting and training nationally and in Western Europe, Dr. Eaves helped develop an introductory training course on clinical approaches to enhancing reflective parenting. She has published in the areas of reflective supervision and workforce well-being, culturally responsive parent-infant psychotherapeutic interventions, and equity in maternal-infant health and mental health outcomes.

Maternal mortality rates and maternal morbidity rates in the United States are the highest among Black and Indigenous pregnant or birthing people.  These rates are much higher within Black birthing people in the United States “55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, 2.9 times the rate for non-Hispanic White women” Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2020 (cdc.gov) and these rates are continuing to worsen Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2021 (cdc.gov). We also know that more than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths were determined to be preventable (Pregnancy-Related Deaths: Data from Maternal Mortality Review Committees in 36 US States, 2017–2019 | CDC).

Passionate about maternal and infant health and mental health, Dr. Eaves hosted a screening of the Birthing Justice Film and a panel discussion with three students as part of an inter-disciplinary collaboration between The Egan School, The Black Studies Program, and The Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department of Fairfield University. Opening remarks were provided by Dean Meredith Kazer of the Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies at Fairfield University. This event, part of the First Year Experience INSPIRE program, was open to the public. Students, faculty, community members, health care providers, and local legislators were in attendance for the event to learn about the experience of Black women giving birth in America.

Photo of Panel Discussion at Fairfield University including three students who are seated and the moderator, Tanika Eaves, who is standing.

This event brought awareness to a wider audience about the experiences of families and health care providers who have lost children, patients, and loved ones and others who survived a traumatic birth experience (known as maternal morbidity). The film and panel also demonstrated promising practices in caring for birthing people in the United States.

From the Event Flyer: “BIRTHING JUSTICE is a feature length documentary discussing the issues fueling the maternal health crisis within the African American community and advocating for best practices to enhance birthing equity for all women, especially Black women. Our filmmakers explore this national epidemic in four regions— Washington, D.C., Augusta, GA, several areas in Missouri, and California, interviewing those affected by current policies, i.e. birthing individuals and healthcare professionals, as well as those, such as birthing advocates, activists and policy makers, in the forefront of advancing policy change. We believe every woman deserves a beautiful birth story. Student panel discussion to follow film screening.

To learn more, go to www.birthingjustice.com”.

Following the movie screening there were opportunities for audience reflection and a Q and A with three students. Two of the students intend to work in the field of maternal health care and shared their lived experience in this work and why awareness of health disparities and improved care for Black women is so important.

Please watch for another article later this month highlighting related research from Dr. Eaves and collaborator Dr. Jennifer Dealy, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Albertus Magnus College.

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This has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012347 with the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.

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