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This season, we are thankful for your commitment to improving the health of women. Enclosed, you will find Episode 3 of Mothers First; a reminder about Marketplace Open Enrollment; a request for partner agencies to assist with the Harris County Health and Relationship Study; information regarding the new Harris County Early Childhood Impact Fund; and updates from the state's Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee

Mothers First: Midwives and Doulas 

Women benefit from and value the presence of a support person during labor, to provide psychological, physical, emotional, informational and practical support. In Episode 3 of Mothers First, we get a breakdown of what midwives and doulas are and the benefits a mother receives from their care while pregnant, at delivery and in the postpartum time.

Women given midwifery care are more likely to have shorter labors, spontaneous vaginal births without hospitalization, less perineal trauma, higher breastfeeding rates, and greater satisfaction with their births. As a certified nurse midwife, Kendra Oates provides holistic care for women with low-risk pregnancies, empowering mom to ensure she has the healthiest, most successful course of pregnancy.

The positive effects of doula care have been found to be greater for women who were socially disadvantaged, low income, unmarried, primiparous, giving birth in a hospital without a companion, or had experienced language/cultural barriers. Sierra McClain-Henry, a Houston-based doula, provides women with evidence-based information and education, while most importantly, supporting mom and the decisions mom makes about her birth experience.

Mothers First is a limited digital series featuring stories of women and experts about their experiences with pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the postpartum time.

Open Enrollment for Health Coverage

It's currently open enrollment season for Marketplace/Affordable Care Act health insurance coverage. 

Change Happens! can support enrollment in 30 Southwest Texas counties, including Harris County. For all your enrollment needs please contact a Change Happens! ACA Navigator via phone 713.374.1282 or 844.374.1200 and by email at Bilingual Navigators are available.

Harris County Health and Relationship Study

The Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and the Center for Violence Prevention at the University of Texas Medical Branch are launching the Harris County Health and Relationship Study. To respond to the shifting needs of people in Harris County social service programs, including individuals at-risk for health, economic concerns and family conflict, they will conduct a survey of an estimated 600 Harris County residents about their needs and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible individuals will receive a $50 electronic gift card for their participation.
They are seeking community partners to distribute an online survey to eligible clients. For more information, please see the attached letter or contact Leila Wood at the Center for Violence Prevention .

Harris County Early Childhood Impact Fund

On October 27, 2020, Harris County Commissioners Court approved the Early Childhood Impact Fund, which will invest up to $10 million in programs and interventions with significant potential to dramatically improve early childhood outcomes in Harris County.

With a focus on the prenatal stage up to three years old, the County seeks proposals with a promising idea or existing program or intervention aimed at improving prenatal, infant, or early childhood outcomes and reducing developmental disparities, with the potential to generate new evidence about how to meet the needs of young children and their families in Harris County most effectively.

For more information, including the proposal and deadline, visit the Harris County Judge's website

Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee

Biennial Report
The multidisciplinary Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee, supported by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), studies and reviews cases of pregnancy-related deaths and trends in severe maternal morbidity, determines the feasibility of the review committee studying cases of severe maternal morbidity, and makes recommendations to help reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity in Texas.

Each even numbered year, the review committee and DSHS must submit a joint report on the findings of the review committee and recommendations to the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House of Representatives, and appropriate committees of the Texas Legislature. The report is scheduled to be released on the DSHS' website on December 1, 2020.

Applicants Sought
The review committee is currently seeking applications for the following committee member positions: Community Advocate, Certified Nurse-Midwife, Medical Examiner, Registered Nurse, and Physician specializing in Obstetrics (Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist). The application period will close 11:59 p.m., January 15, 2021. For more information or to apply, please visit the DSHS' website.
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