March is known for many things:
- Coming in like a lion, and out like a lamb
- Saint Patrick’s Day
- March Madness
Throughout the month you will hear great stories of strong women with incredible accomplishments in politics, education, science, sports, and business. Stories of overcoming numerous challenges and barriers along the way. I encourage you to read about some of them.
In the spirit of celebrating women among all the famous and not-so-famous names and stories, it is also important to recognize the important, irreplaceable role that women play as mothers. Many of the women you will read about this month accomplished great things while they were mothers.
Being a mother is one of the greatest roles women have played throughout history. It's a role that continues to have an enormous impact on our society.
“One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters.” —says Poet George Herbert
Since we’re talking history, I looked into how maternal health has changed over the years. Admittedly, I’m not a trained academic in scientific research but in searching for data on maternal health, one of the most important measures of it is the rate of maternal mortality.
What is maternal mortality?
According to this report from the Health Resources and Services Administration, it's "maternal deaths ... related to or aggravated by pregnancy or pregnancy management and which occur during or within 42 days after the end of pregnancy."
The good news is that, according to the same report, maternal mortality in the U.S. has declined dramatically over the past century. The rate declined from 607.9 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1915 to 12.7 in 2007.
Pretty amazing, huh? Well, yes, but not so fast.
Unfortunately, according to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report on pregnancy-related mortality--a similar measure that tracks women's pregnancy-related deaths over a longer period of time post-pregnancy (one year)--not much has changed for mothers in the past 25 years (1, 3).
Since the CDC implemented the Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System to track this rate, the number of reported pregnancy-related deaths in the United States steadily increased from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017. The graph above shows trends in pregnancy-related mortality ratios between 1987 and 2017, the latest available year of data.
The CDC goes on to say, “The reasons for the overall increase in pregnancy-related mortality are unclear.” And the report goes further into factors and causes contributing to the mortality rates such as health/risk factors, race/ethnicity disparities, etc.
While the CDC states it is not clear on the reasons for these increases in maternal deaths, what we can be clear on is the data that shows mothers reap a host of benefits when fathers are involved during pregnancy.
For example, when fathers are involved, mothers:
- Are more likely to receive prenatal care
- Have a lower risk of post-partum stress
- Have healthier births
For these and other related benefits to mothers when fathers are involved, check out and share one of our newest, free, strengths-based infographics Why Involved Dads are Good for Moms.
It is for these reasons and more that we highly encourage all human service organizations to find ways to make their programs and services more father-inclusive.
Here are a number of free and affordable ways to do that:
- Use our free Father Friendly Check-Up™ to assess if your organization is welcoming to fathers.
- Get female staff comfortable with engaging fathers. NFI has a free eBook How to Train Female Staff to Effectively Engage Fathers.
- Check out our Father Engagement Academy™ for a growing list of online courses for you and your staff.
- Look at your website and ask, "Does it reflect you have services/resources for dads? Are they easy to find?"
- Share data in an engaging way with our free Infographics and Downloadable Father Facts Images!
- Consider offering one of NFI’s programs to serve fathers. This chart can help you find which NFI Core Programs are right for you.
Also don’t forget that NFI offers several resources for moms to help them better understand the importance of dad’s involvement, and how to better communicate with one another. Check them out on our store website here. They can be a great addition to your Women's History Month activities.
Please reach out to us if you’d like more information on engaging fathers and working with moms to pregnancy-related outcomes for mothers so that every child grows up healthy with involved, responsible, and committed parents!