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Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center hosted “Innovation on Maternal Health” Documentary Photo Exhibit

Sometimes, we get buried in breaking local news, and some essential interviews get pushed back. Though we conducted our interviews for this story last month, it is still important to share.

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center featured a documentary photo exhibit titled “Innovation on Maternal Health Exhibition.” The exhibit, created by photojournalist Karen Kasmauski in collaboration with WHRO, was displayed on May 21 outside the hospital’s maternity ward.

The exhibit showcases powerful images that highlight the crucial role of midwifery and doula services in improving maternal health outcomes, particularly for non-Hispanic Black mothers. Sheena Kundid, a nurse at the medical center, explained the significance of the display, emphasizing how midwifery bridges gaps in maternal healthcare. “Midwifery services support and really bridge the gap for our non-Hispanic Black mothers and really all of our mothers. It’s been shown that midwifery and doulas improve outcomes through trust and active partnership in the birth experience,” she said.

The photos in the exhibit capture various stages of the birthing process, from a mother enduring contractions to the care provided post-delivery. Kundid highlighted the importance of showcasing both home and hospital births, demonstrating the collaborative relationship between midwives and hospital facilities. “It paints a picture of how midwifery supports that collaborative relationship with hospitals and facilities,” Kundid added.

Misti Gray, an OB-Gyn at About Women in Woodbridge, which is affiliated with Sentara, underscored the alarming disparities in maternal mortality rates. “The headline of the main focus is, ‘I just don’t want to die.’ It’s powerful but true,” Gray stated. She pointed out that Black mothers are disproportionately affected by pregnancy-related complications, being three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts. Gray attributed this disparity to systemic issues such as racial biases, unequal access to care, and lack of education.

Gray also addressed common misconceptions about midwifery, emphasizing that midwifery care is not limited to home births. “Midwifery care is everywhere. It’s hospitals, birthing centers, at home, and in the community,” she said. She highlighted the growing presence of midwives in hospitals, a trend that has increased over the past decade.

The exhibit aims to educate the community and break down misconceptions about midwifery. Kundid shared that Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is working to increase its midwifery presence and build partnerships with providers. “Midwives help our OB/GYNs, and it increases access to care, which is a dire need across the entire United States,” Kundid explained.

In March, the CDC reported a slight improvement in maternal mortality rates for non-Hispanic Black women, who are now 2.6 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts. Kundid acknowledged the progress but stressed the need for continued efforts to address these disparities.

The “Innovation on Maternal Health Exhibition” will be on display at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center for the next few weeks. It offers a compelling look into the critical role of midwifery in maternal healthcare.

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  • Uriah Kiser

    I'm the Founder and Publisher of Potomac Local News. Raised in Woodbridge, I'm now raising my family in Northern Virginia and care deeply about our community.

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