Category: MCH Leadership Competencies 3.0: Wider Community: Policy and Advocacy

Women’s Pelvic Health 101

As women, sometimes it feels like the only time we acknowledge our pelvic region is when we’re talking about having babies. But how much do we really know about our pelvic health; about what is going on “below our belts”?

If you’re like me and many other American women, the answer probably is “not much”. Pelvic health gets a bad rap because it’s at the center of stigmatized topics like elimination (pooping and peeing), sexual health, and reproduction. Stigma makes us uncomfortable and when we’re uncomfortable we tend to avoid whatever it was that made us feel that way. Unfortunately, however, not talking about a critical part of our health leaves us in the dark about our bodies and this lack of knowledge can negatively impact our well-being and prevent us from seeking the support and information we need.

One person who isn’t afraid to talk about women’s pelvic health is Missy Lavender and the wonderful team at the Women’s Health Foundation (WHF). WHF is a non-profit organization committed to improving women’s pelvic health and wellness by driving cutting edge research initiatives, developing and offering community based education and fitness programs, fostering conversation and creating communities for women, serving as a national resource on pelvic wellness issues. Their goal is to turn the conversation of pelvic health from a sisterhood of silence to a sisterhood of strength where women feel connected to their bodies and are empowered to live fuller, richer lives. WHF is Chicago-based but are currently leading the charge nationally on women’s pelvic health and wellness. They host educational events, wrote a pelvic health book for teenage girls (Below Your Belt: How to be Queen of Your Pelvic Region), update an amazing community blog with tons of pelvic health information and news, in addition to countless other efforts and initiatives. Their website is a goldmine for all things pelvic health. After spending a lot of time with the Below Your Belt book and WHF resources, we’ve compiled a list of some pelvic health basics to get you familiar with what’s going on “below your belt”:

  • Our pelvic region includes our pelvic bones, pelvic floor, abdominal and back muscles, and digestive, elimination, and reproductive organs. All of these muscles, bones, and organs are essential for physical and reproductive wellness, sexual satisfaction, and healthy digestion.1
  • Proper peeing behaviors can keep your bladder, vagina, and pelvic floor healthier for longer. Here are some important reminders:
    • Always wipe from front to back to prevent spreading bacteria. 1
    • For optimal elimination (pooping/peeing), it is important to relax your pelvic floor muscles, so when you go to the bathroom, make sure you sit all the way down1
    • Rocking from side to side on your tailbone will help relax your pelvic floor and empty all the urine from your bladder. 1
    • Only go to the bathroom when you really have to go1
    • Always drink plenty of water. 1
  • There are a lot of different things that influence our pooping behavior. Here are some tips to help keep you ‘regular’:
    • Eating fiber helps with healthy digestion. A good rule of thumb for how many grams of fiber to get each day is: 10 grams of fiber + your age = # grams of fiber you should eat per day. 1
    • Squatting or using a Squatty Potty is the optimal position for pooping because the squatting position is known to relax the pelvic floor, therefore requiring less pressure and strain and making elimination easier. 1
    • Body movement = bowel movement1 Increased physical activity is known to increase regularity.
    • Always drink plenty of water1
  • When it comes to feminine hygiene, avoid vagina spray. 1 Your vagina is like a self-cleaning oven, so all you need to keep things clean is some warm water.1

This post only covers a small amount of what pelvic health is, but we hope it sparks your interest in this essential subject. To learn more about the WHF and pelvic health check out the WHF website and community blog.

Website: http://womenshealthfoundation.org

Community Blog: http://womenshealthfoundation.org/category/blog/

If you’re interested in teaching your daughter, sister, cousins, or anyone you love about pelvic health, be sure to check out the Below Your Belt book.

http://womenshealthfoundation.org/below-your-belt/

If you’re interested in the Squatty Potty or purchasing a Squatty Potty, check out their website:

http://www.squattypotty.com/

Written by Michelle Chavdar, Research Assistant and UIC MPH Candidate

________________

References

1Lavender, M., & Donatelli Ihm, J. (2015). In Elizabeth Wood (Ed.), Below your belt: How to be queen of your pelvic region. Chicago, IL: Women’s Health Foundation.


Poster Presentations: State Health System Analysis

On Thursday, April 30, students from the class on “Health Systems: Services, Programs, and Policies for Women, Children, and Families” (CHSC-511) presented posters on a state health system. The Maternal and Child Health Systems class is taught every spring by Karen VanLandeghem, Adjunct Professor and Senior Program Director at the National Academy for State Health Policy.  FullSizeRender(1) IMG_2985(1) IMG_2984(2)


Attending the 2015 Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Annual Conference

3304ce9In January 2015, I had the privilege of attending the 2015 Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference, titled “United to Build Healthier Communities,” was an opportunity for me to network, learn, and go to Capitol Hill to advocate for the MCH Title V Block Grant.

On Saturday, I began the conference by attending a skills building session focused on community economic development strategies. This session emphasized collaborations, partnerships, and constituency building in expanding our MCH work to focus on economic development as a social determinant. At this session, a group of us from different sectors in Illinois brainstormed different ways in which economic barriers perpetuate inequities for Illinois families.

Other sessions that I attended focused on early childhood, MCH leadership, collaboration in policy and advocacy, systems thinking, and MCH 2015 policy issues. Since the conference brought together leaders from non-profits, universities, and state and local MCH programs, these sessions created rich discussions because of the various expertise and viewpoints. Often, these sessions were interactive and collaborative and I appreciated learning from the leaders of the sessions as well as the attendees.

Monday was the most rewarding day for me at the conference. After attending a session on 2015 MCH policy and discussing the funding needs of MCH programs, I went to Capitol Hill to advocate for Title V along with Dr. Arden Handler, Illinois Title V Director Dr. Brenda Jones, and LEND trainee Ryan Murphy. We visited both Illinois Senator Dick Durbin’s and Senator Mark Kirk’s offices and met with their health aids. We shared information on the importance of the MCH Title V Block Grant and the impactful work happening in Illinois. In addition, we provided resources on UIC SPH’s MCHP program, the LEND program, and other Block Grant specific programs. It was a pleasure to attend this hill visit that Dr. Handler organizes annually. In Dr. Handler’s Advocacy and Policy course, I learned about strategic ways to advocate to a legislator, and this was a prime opportunity for me to practice with a pro!

Throughout this conference, I took advantage of the opportunity of being around so many MCH professionals by networking. AMCHP encourages state programs to learn from their regional peers and the region V (IL, WI, MI, MN, OH, IN) lunch was a chance for us to meet with and learn from these other Title V programs. However, by far, the highlight of my networking efforts was meeting Dr. Michael Lu, Associate Administrator of MCHB! He was a pleasure to speak with and was encouraging of my upcoming step into the MCH workforce. Overall, this conference was a huge success; I tackled my first lobbying experience, made some promising connections, and gained a deeper understanding of the network of Title V programs and the future directions of the Block Grant. I am thankful to UIC SPH MCHP for providing me the opportunity to attend this conference!

Written by Joanna Tess, UIC Maternal and Child Health MPH Candidate


Practicum Experience 2014: Chicago Department of Public Health

IMG_7584 (4)So far, our time at the Women and Children’s Health Division at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has been very translational to what we learned in our first year at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health (UIC SPH).  We are conducting a Community Health Needs Assessment for the MCH population in Chicago under the guidance of CDPH Assistant Commissioner, Susan Hossli. To start, we gathered quantitative data in the form of vital statistics; this included infant mortality rates, low birth weight percentages, preterm deliveries, and teenage pregnancy rates for Chicago and the 77 community areas. We used the data to identify 18 community areas that have the poorest outcomes and we designated them as “Hot Spots.” These community areas are located on both the South and West Sides of Chicago.

After we compiled quantitative data for Chicago and the Hot Spots, we created a demographic picture of each neighborhood, which included socioeconomic status, overall health, education attainment, insurance, income, housing, poverty, crime, food access, and educational resources. These topics touched on what we learned in the Determinants of Population Health class, a new introductory class in the pilot core (IPHS 494). We learned that health is not only affected by biological factors, but also where you live, learn, play, work, pray, and age. It is also pivotal to understand that factors affecting health run the entire life course, as well as transcend generations.

Following the quantitative data, we prepared a systems analysis for each community area. The systems assessment analyzes the available resources in one’s neighborhood; this includes, but is not limited to Healthy Start programs, FQHCs, Healthy Families, Better Birth Outcomes, family case management, hospitals, clinics, birthing hospitals, WIC, family planning, behavioral health programs, and dental programs. This process was very informative because we gained a holistic view of the healthcare environment in the Hot Spot community areas.

We took Community Health Assessment (CHSC 431) in Spring 2014, and it was the perfect primer for this practicum. The knowledge, skills and tools we gained in that class proved essential for our success in this practicum. In CHSC 431, we learned the basics of a community health assessment: what it is, how the process works, where to find the appropriate and credible data, how to identify priority issues, how to obtain and analyze qualitative data, and then how to disseminate the information to community groups and key stakeholders. Another useful class prior to this practicum was MCH Delivery Systems: Services, Programs, and Policies (CHSC 511). In this course, we were introduced to the concept of what a health care delivery system is. We learned about the service delivery system for women, infants, children, and children with special health care needs. Our cumulative project over the semester was to synthesize and analyze the MCH delivery system for various states.

For a holistic view on the health status of Women and Children in Chicago, it is necessary to have a mixed-methods approach for data acquisition. Quantitative data is important to provide a snapshot of the health status, but qualitative data provides a full narrative of the gaps in access to a healthy life. We are currently scheduling focus groups on the West and South Sides of Chicago with consumers, service providers, and community based organizations. The focus groups will complete the needs assessment, and then a Strategic Plan for the City of Chicago will be formulated based on the data and gaps in services found in the needs assessment.

This practicum has been a learning opportunity since we have seen our coursework play out in a practical setting. It is exciting to see our work with the needs assessment play such a large role for the Department of Public Health. This project was undertaken with the hopes of influencing future programming and decision making within the city for healthy mothers and babies.

By Joanna Tess and Dan Weiss, UIC MCHP Students

 


Save the Children Event at UIC: Uniting for Maternal and Child Health

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Maternal and Child Health Program (MCHP) partnered with Save the Children, UIC’s Global Health Initiative, The University of Chicago’s Global Health Initiative, and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Center for Global Health to host a seminar at UIC on October 14th.  This was part of a three part lecture series where each university hosted an event that addressed various topics related to maternal and child health.

The keynote speaker was Steven Wall, MD, MPH, MSW, Senior Advisor, Save the Children, who discussed a report that was recently released by Save the Children entitled, “Surviving the First Day: State of the World’s Mothers 2013”.

Then the seminar focused on connecting the global to the local, and there were brief presentations by the following stakeholders:

  • Brenda Jones, DHSc, MSN, APN-BC, Deputy Director, Office of Women’s Health, Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Janine Lewis, MPH, Executive Director, EverThrive Illinois
  • Rosemary White Traut, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor, Department of Women, Children and Family Health Science, UIC College of Nursing

The MCHP would like thank all our partners for such a great event!  It was a pleasure working with all of you and we look forward to working with you in the future!

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MCH Seminar–Shattering Families: How Mass Incarceration Harms Parents and Children

On March 12, 2013, the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Training program at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) hosted the seminar “Shattering Families: How Mass Incarceration Harms Parents and Children.” This seminar featured two speakers: Gail Smith, Senior Policy Director at Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM), and a Visible Voices speaker. Visible Voices is a group composed of formerly incarcerated women who speak out and share their experiences with others. A diverse crowd of individuals from within and beyond the UIC School of Public Health assembled to hear these two speakers discuss issues related to the mass incarceration of all women and, in particular, of mothers.

Ms. Smith presented information on the scale of this issue, outlining the dramatic rise of incarceration in the United States over the past 40 years and how rates in this country are much higher than those in other developed nations. The female prison population grew by 832% between 1977 and 2007. About 80% of these women are incarcerated for non-violent offenses, and 80-85% of all incarcerated women are mothers. Ms. Smith outlined how this leads to several unique issues for the children of these women. For example, if a mother is her child’s sole caregiver, the child will be transitioned into the care of another family member or the foster care system. The latter is of particular concern since the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 allows for termination of parental rights if any child is in foster care for 15 of the 22 previous months. She then discussed how everyone impacted by the criminal justice system would benefit from a restorative justice approach, which focuses on healing rather than punishing. The Visible Voices speaker then put a face to all of these statistics as she shared a powerful, personal account of her experiences with the criminal justice system and how her incarceration directly impacted her sons.

For more information on this issue and to learn how to become involved, please visit CLAIM’s website: http://www.claim-il.org/.

 

This blog entry was written by MCHP student, Nicole Gonzalez who also organized this event.

 

 


Want to Know More About MCH?

The students in the University of Washington Maternal and Child Health
(MCH) Program and in other MCH schools of public health training
programs nationwide created a visual narrative of the public health work
and research they are doing in their communities. The presentation was done with the help of Charlotte Noble and the University of South Florida MCH Program.

You can view the presentation here.  If you are interested in engaging in work that improves the health and well-being of women, men, children, and families then you will enjoy this presentation – it may even give you ideas about how you can make a difference!

The stories help illustrate how MCH makes a difference in the lives of
women and children.


Training Opportunity for Graduate Students Interested in Children with Developmental Disorders

2012/13 ILLINOIS LEND PROGRAM TRAINING ANNOUNCEMENT

An Opportunity for Future Leaders Serving Children with Developmental Disabilities

The Institute on Disability and Human Development at UIC is excited to announce LEND training opportunities open to graduate students from the core disciplines of:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Child Psychiatry
  • Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Disability Studies
  • Family
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Self-Advocate
  • Social Work
  • Special Education
  • Speech Language Pathology

The Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, sponsored by the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, prepares future leaders who will serve children with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities (with a focus on autism) and their families.  The LEND Interdisciplinary Training Program is a one-year training program that incorporates both didactic and experiential learning in clinical and community-based settings. A stipend up to $5000 per year will be provided.  Trainees will gain experience in the coordination of culturally competent family-centered care, the provision of public health services, and the implementation of policy systems change.  The didactics take place over 2 semesters starting August 2012 and ending May 2013 with clinical/community training available through June 2013.

Deadline to apply is May 11, 2012.

Family/Self-Advocate trainees are individuals with a developmental disability and/or individuals who have a family member with a developmental disability. A high school diploma or equivalent is a requirement to be considered for the Family/Self-Advocate traineeship.  Priority is given to graduate students in the above disciplines and family/self-advocates; however, recent graduates working in the field may also apply.  In order to receive a stipend, a trainee must be a US citizen or permanent resident.

For more information about the LEND program or to complete an application, please visit the IL LEND website or contact the LEND Project Coordinator:

Leslie Stiles

vlazny@uic.edu

312-996-8905

Leslie Stiles, MS, RD, LDN

IL LEND Project Coordinator

University of Illinois at Chicago

1640 W. Roosevelt Rd. #205A

Chicago, IL 60608

312.996.8905


Proposed Title V Cuts!

Hi all.  We wanted to share this information regarding proposed Title V cuts with you in case you have not heard.  Towards the end of the message, you will see possible action steps you can take.

Today House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) released initial details of a House proposal

(http://appropriations.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=259&Month=2&Year=2011))

to revise the current continuing resolution (CR) that would fund federal government through the rest of the fiscal year.  The proposal includes a $210 million cut to the Title V Maternal & Child Health Block Grant and is expected to be voted on in the House early next week.  It is absolutely imperative that your Members of Congress hear from you today about how devastating this cut would be to the maternal and child health and children with special health care needs programs in your state.

AMCHP urges all members and friends to call your elected officials NOW with the following message:

• I am calling in strong opposition to the proposed $210 million cut to the Title V MCH Block Grant included in the revised House continuing resolution.

$210 million is a 32% cut to an effective, important, and vital program in our state.

•Cuts this deep will devastate state and local programs serving women, babies, children, and children with special health care needs in our state.

•This cut is counter-productive because health issues that we don’t prevent or detect early through this program now will ultimately cost us all more later.  For example, the average cost of a premature baby is $58,000 – it makes no sense to cut programs that work to prevent maternal and child health issues like prematurity that will save us money in the future.

•Please tell (Your Representative’s/Senator’s name) that we should not balance the budget on the backs of babies and our nation’s most vulnerable.

Members of Congress need to hear from you today. They listen to onstituents and it is imperative they know how these cuts will impact mothers and children in their jurisdictions.  Therefore, in accordance with your organization’s advocacy rules, AMCHP urges you to contact your elected officials now.  AMCHP also asks that you share this email with all MCH advocates in your state and urge them to also contact their Members of Congress.

Your efforts to reach Members of Congress will be critical to preventing deep cuts to MCH programs in FY 2011. Please share any feedback you receive with AMCHP staff about your contacts as this will be helpful as we continue our advocacy efforts  on your behalf.   For more information or to share feedback please contact Joshua Brown (jrbown@amchp.org) or Brent Ewig (bewig@amchp.org) via email or at (202) 775-0436.

Need helping finding your Representative’s or Senator’s Phone Number?

To find your senators’ and representatives’ phone numbers, use this searchable online congressional directory or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your senators’ and/or representative’s office.  Ask to speak with the aide who handles health

issues and leave a voice mail if you cannot reach them directly.   While the urgency of the situation requires immediate phone calls, you may want to follow-up with an email or fax to reiterate your point.  You can find email addresses and fax numbers at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.   First priority is to contact members of the House of Representatives as they will vote first, and we also urge you to call your state’s two Senators to share your views with them as well.


MCHB Life Course Resources

For additional information and resources related to Life Course, please visit the Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s website.