A Jamaican woman born and raised in New York City, I hold a BSW Degree and now hope to be selected to earn the MSW Degree at XXXX University. I am most concerned with racial disparities in maternal/child mortality and how they are again rising in some parts of the USA. Despite a century of steady improvements in the science behind maternal care, pregnancy-related deaths are again on the rise in NYC, especially concerning minorities, generally speaking, but most dramatically in the case of black women who suffer severe maternal morbidity (SMM)—life-threatening complications during delivery—in vastly disproportionate numbers. While the national conversation on maternal health has focused on maternal mortality, it has not sufficiently explored the root causes or the full range of consequences. This is especially true concerning how maternal morbidity tends to occur along racial lines in NYC (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2016).
My professional identity and research interests are informed by the fact that my mother is an immigrant to the USA from Jamaica, where we left my father behind. I am a black woman from the Caribbean, yet not a Latina. I faced many challenges growing up due to these factors, which have helped make me strong and curious, with a sense of social justice and a keen desire to serve my community, especially vulnerable women who are also pregnant.
Untold numbers of black mothers struggle to receive proper prenatal and postnatal care in NYC. Disparities along racial or ethnic lines are especially glaring between black and white women who are not Latina. Black, non-Latina women have the highest SMM rates in NYC, three times that of the white non-Latina. There are many reasons for this: pre-conception health status, the prevalence of obesity and other comorbidities, and lower access levels.
Thus, I will have my work cut out if accepted to your Advanced Standing MSW Program and allowed to tackle such a complex issue under your expert guidance. The problems go well beyond the educational level since black mothers with college degrees still have higher maternal mortality rates than white women who dropped out of high school. Neither is it primarily a question of diet, physical condition, or body size. Black women with an average weight index still have a higher probability of dying due to pregnancy/childbirth or losing their child than women of any other race. Black women in wealthy neighborhoods have less successful pregnancy outcomes than other races living in poorer areas.
I seek a total immersion experience studying emotional and psychological trauma from a social work perspective on both the individual and family levels. I want to delve into the long-term and even multi-generational cost of the loss of a mother – psychologically, economically, in terms of education and well-being across generations - for the community, the surviving children, and the families that they go on to create.
How do grief, depression, and a sense of social isolation result from insufficient attention to women’s health, and at what cost, especially when we factor in the increase in the numbers of single-parent households and children placed in foster care (Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2016)? I long for expertise in how and why some families can access adequate food, shelter, and health care while others are not. Women’s health should be prioritized and addressed in every arena, from politics to the school system. Programs that promote the emotional and physical well-being of the mother and baby need to be designed and implemented, building on what has already been accomplished in this area. Medicaid could cover doulas' services which would be of enormous support and assistance since doulas have extensive training in childbirth and can provide critical emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth.
The doula aims to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience (http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/having-a-doula/).” Studies have documented improved birth outcomes when a doula was present during the birth. With the support of a doula, women were less likely to have pain-relief medications administered and less likely to have a cesarean delivery. Women also reported having a more positive childbirth experience.” Studies have shown that having a doula as a birth team member decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, and oxytocin by 40%. Doulas often use the power of touch and massage to reduce stress and anxiety during delivery and postpartum, continuing to assist with lactation support and recovery. I hope to live to see the day that all pregnant women in NYC have access to the help of a doula.
It was an enormous privilege to complete the BSW program at Medgar Evers College, a distinguished and critically important historically African-American university; I became strengthened and empowered as I progressed through this program. The BSW program introduced me to various intellectual perspectives invaluable for the social work investigator on both local and national levels. I can now stand back, look at stereotypes, and analyze them without buying into them. I can see the bigger picture and the depths to which historical humanity sunk in the name of greed, in the construction of systemic oppression against which we shall continue to struggle for many generations.
Being as compassionate as possible in all of my dealings with my clients is central to my sense of professional integrity. As a volunteer at the service of various underserved populations, especially with WIN (Women in Need) helping out in the shelter, I have learned that I have both the heart and the stamina for social work. My finest hours have been spent distributing food to families at the shelter and helping with events such as Christmas and back-to-school giveaways. With the 4H, I mentored underserved children; I currently work at a non-profit agency serving adults with diagnoses of mental health disorders. I do home visits daily, keep notes, and draft service plans. Even when one of my clients has a crisis, I still manage to turn in my work on time. My coworkers commend me for always keeping my composure despite what frequently results from my clients' chronic mental health disorders. I co