New York City's top medical officer announces new health programs for 'birthing people'

Despite using the word "maternal," Norse's thread of tweets uses for a majority of time the gender-neutral term of "birthing people" to refer to mothers.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

In a thread of tweets posted by New York City’s Chief Medical Officer Michelle Norse announced the expansion of the city’s doula program and midwifery initiative, referring to mothers that give birth as "birthing people."

Norse announced that the Mayor’s office and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's would expand these programs, saying the action will "reduce maternal and infant health inequities. The time for birth equity is NOW."

Despite using the word "maternal," Norse's thread of tweets uses for a majority of time the gender-neutral term of "birthing people" to refer to mothers.

"Too many NYC families experience life-threatening complications from childbirth, and even loss of life of the birthing person or their child," she wrote.

"We must hold ourselves and health care delivery organizations accountable to our anti-racism mission and make health equity a realty," Norse added.

In another tweet, Norse said that the city must support "...birthing people through all aspects of their birthing experience– perhaps the most beautiful and personal gift we can share with birthing people as they navigate the groundbreaking life changing experience of creating life. That is what doulas do."

In a following tweet, Norse notably referred to black and Puerto Rican mothers as such, then referred to white mothers as "birthing people."

"The urgency of this moment is clear. Mortality rates of birthing people are too high, and babies born to Black and Puerto Rican mothers in this city are three times more likely to die in their first year of life than babies born to non-Hispanic White birthing people," Norse wrote.

Norse closed out her series of tweets by stating that NYC's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has Neighborhood Health Action Centers in Brownsville in Brooklyn, East Harlem and Tremont in the Bronx which provide families with spaces to be connected to resources, which includes childbirth education, parenting classes, and free resources.

"Expanding access to doulas and the quality care they provide can save lives and will make a difference for hundreds of NYC families," she concluded.

The term "birthing people" gained attention last year after a Biden administration budget proposal omitted the word mother in favor of the term.

The budget proposal read: "To help end this high rate of maternal mortality and race-based disparities in outcomes among birthing people—and in addition to the investment in maternal health included in the American Families Plan—the Budget includes more than $200 million to: reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates nationwide; bolster Maternal Mortality Review Committees; expand the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies program; help cities place early childhood development experts in pediatrician offices with a high percentage of Medicaid and Children's health Insurance Program patients; implement implicit bias training for healthcare providers; and create State pregnancy medical home programs."


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