Frequently Asked Questions
What is the National Perinatal Task Force?
- A virtual community of people who have a heart for women and children
- A grassroots movement to start and grow thriving Perinatal Safe Spots in every Materno-Toxic Area
- Motivated people who have heard about the outrageous statistics and the stark racial disparities and want to see real change, real soon.
- People who understand that the system is broken and want to make a practical difference in the health outcomes for our most at-risk mothers and babies
- A place to share ideas – what’s working, what’s not
- A place to find support – this network is to support YOU in directly supporting women and families or directly supporting the workers on the ground
How do I join?
Does it cost anything?
- Commitment of time – consistency is key, show up when you say you’ll show up even if for only one woman and baby
What is a Perinatal Safe Spot?
- A Perinatal Safe Spot could be a virtual, geographical or physical place. So a one-to-one relationship, texting back and forth for example, creates a ‘safe spot’ for that woman; a meeting place, someone’s home could be another; a support group at a clinic etc .
- It depends on the needs and it depends on the capacity. It is ABSTRACT – it could be just you holding the intention to bring about a change. Holding space for a ‘judgment-free zone’. Anything at all that can help, creatively could be designated so.
- A Perinatal Safe Spot can be set up anywhere and be effective in any Materno-toxic Area – remember that ANYONE who cares can be an Ambassador for a Perinatal Safe Spot
- Often it’s simply providing a listening ear, a true supporter who isn’t going to judge – someone who has the mom, dad, baby’s best interest at heart – genuinely. As the relationships build, practical resources and ideas develop and we can learn more about the REAL barriers from the people who are experiencing them.
A Materno-toxic Area is any area where it is literally unsafe to be pregnant or parenting; any area where you yourself would not feel comfortable being pregnant, breastfeeding or parenting.
- Also, historically the birth outcomes are worse than other adjacent zip codes – what we call disparities in health. Social determinants of health are the factors that affect our health due to where we live, work, play and so on. So most likely there is an increased chance of the baby being born prematurely, low birth weight or dying before age one. There is also an increased chance that the mom could die or become seriously ill in pregnancy, during birth or postpartum because of where she lives.
- Additionally, we recognize that the toxicity of implicit and explicit biases, racism, classism and sexism is created wherever a pregnant woman of color may be, and as such the materno-toxic status is not always because of a specific geographic location, but may be equally unsafe and impact her chances of a healthy birth outcome.
- In every Materno-toxic Area in the United States the goal is to see that, at a minimum, there is a Perinatal Safe Spot (PSS) operating within a reasonable geographical radius or accessible via our virtual electronic network. Each area, zone or network will be manned (woman-ed!) by a member of the Perinatal Task Force, a designated person, team or agency who is holding the space (physical or virtual) and supporting that Safe Spot by providing a service or services that can make an impact.
How do I find out where the Materno-Toxic Areas are?
- Data exists in every area – oftentimes the statistics are available through an online search – via the Health Department, Healthy Start or March of Dimes Peristats websites
- Likely anywhere there is a food desert, lack of services, lack of resources, lack of support, lack of investment
- Each state, area or city has different problems so the first job is to find out where the women are in the most jeopardy. That will help identify which neighborhoods, cities or zip codes.
- Understand that being African American, Black, Native American or of color in the USA increases the odds that you will be exposed to a higher risk of a poor outcome no matter who you are, where you are, or where you are from.
What if I don’t live in a Materno-toxic Area, how can I help?
- You can be an Amplifier, Ignitor, or Supporter for a Perinatal Safe Spot by supporting those in the Materno-toxic Area who are already doing the work, or would be willing to get started
- By standing in at board meetings, sharing what you know, sharing what we are doing
- Finding resources, providing meeting space, etc.
- Bring training programs to the community and support funding, scholarships, stipends
- Be a virtual Perinatal Safe Spot for one or more pregnant or parenting women
- Be a virtual supporter/ mentor/ advocate for the workers already on the ground
Is there funding available to start a Perinatal Safe Spot?
- Not through the National Perinatal Task Force at this time
- You may apply for grants, get funding or sponsorship from private of public sources
- The point is NOT to wait for funding, but to do what you can NOW – it is a matter of life and death
Do I need special training?
- You do not need to be credentialed, you can start without funding, you don’t need to belong to any hospital, agency or group – you simply need to CARE, and be willing to listen, share, and encourage each other as together we tackle these overwhelming situations.
- Start with what you know, meeting women where they are – research as needed to learn more
- There is training available for the specific roles of doula, childbirth educator, lactation educator through COPE, MCH workshops via commonsensechildbirth.org
How do I get started?
- Follow and like our Facebook page ;Follow us on Twitter and Instagram
- Find out where the Materno-toxic Areas are by looking up your state’s Department of Health website, and maybe local, county or city health departments websites to see if they have maternal-infant health programs
- See what is already being done. Sometimes it makes sense to partner with existing work; sometimes you are best off to start on your own. It needs to be practical, collaborative and obviously not expensive.
- Connect with just one pregnant woman or worker on the ground and ask her what she would say is missing for her, she might be able to better tell you what’s needed.
- Volunteer at a shelter, group home or school for teen moms. You can also try partnering with pregnancy crisis centers.
- Go to the Get Involved page!