Category Archives: Pregnancy

Mar 26 2014

Where Evidence Meets Policy—and Politics

Annik Sorhaindo, MSc, is a senior program researcher with the Population Council’s Reproductive Health Program in Mexico. A 1997 alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded Project L/EARN initiative, she conducts research to provide evidence that helps inform government policy. This post reports on her work.

Fifty-five percent of all pregnancies in Mexico are unplanned.

That dramatic statistic, from a report by the Guttmacher Institute, can be mapped to the limited access women have to contraception.

“Many women can’t readily obtain contraceptive methods,” says Annik Sorhaindo. As part of a five-organization alliance working to improve reproductive health in the world’s 11th most populous country, the council directs research and analysis for the effort.

“My work focuses on answering research questions: Which occurrences in daily life impact women’s decisions about contraception? What are the impediments to preventing teen pregnancy? What are the challenges to using contraception post-abortion?”

Sorhaindo is quick to note that the council stays above the political fray. “We do the research and interpret the results, and the advocacy organizations address the politics,” she says.

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Dec 11 2012

“Call the Midwife:” Horrors and Humanity in 1950s London

Vernell DeWitty, PhD, RN, is the deputy program director for New Careers in Nursing, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.


Every now and then a television program gets it right, and so it is with “Call the Midwife.” This BBC-produced program aired on PBS this fall, and will be back with a new episode in December. Set in London's very pre-revitalized East End during the late 1950s, and based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the series chronicles the adventures of a group of midwives working at the Nonnatus House, a nursing convent named for the early cesarean-surviving patron saint of childbirth.  

The series is blunt about the medical practices of the day and the state of birth control and female empowerment at the time. But the strange pull of this series is its humanity, not its horrors.

It is easy to think that women were always tended to during pregnancy, childbirth and delivery; however, this is not the case. We tend to forget the number of women who died in childbirth and the high rate of infant mortality due to lack of proper care not that many years ago.

But with the appearance of the nurse mid-wife, we realized significant decreases in maternal and infant mortality. Indeed, nurse midwives were the forerunners of the advanced practice nurse practitioners of today.

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Nov 2 2012

Being Healthy Now Matters Later to Moms and Babies

Pamela K. Xaverius, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Saint Louis University, and a former grantee with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Connections program. This post is part of a series in which RWJF scholars, fellows and alumni who are attending the American Public Health Association annual meeting reflect on the experience.


As a former New Connections grantee from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, I was asked to blog about my experience with one of my posters at the 140th annual conference of the American Public Health Association (APHA) in San Francisco this week. The poster was entitled “Prevalence of Preconception Lifestyle Behaviors Between Women With and Without Diabetes.”

There has been a groundswell of activity across the U.S. around the idea that if women want to have healthy babies, they need to be healthy before they get pregnant (aka, preconception health). This idea fits well with the overall theme of the APHA conference this year: Prevention and Wellness Across the Lifespan.

My co-authors and I presented a poster on secondary analysis of data that looked at the relationship between lifestyle behaviors and diabetes status among women of reproductive age. The biggest takeaway that we wanted people to have from this poster was that 93 percent of women with diabetes are not intending a pregnancy, and 73.2 percent of them are not using any birth control method (40.5 percent) or using less effective birth control methods (32.7 percent). This is a recipe for significant public health concern, with the growing rates of diabetes coupled with the potentially deleterious consequences of unmanaged diabetes during pregnancy.

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