By Luisa Soaterna
As an HBCU alumna, a Latina, and mother to a 2-year-old, I have reaped the benefits of access to quality medical care, and a strong support system. The ease with which I’ve navigated the medical system and the positive outcomes that my family and I have had are not the typical experiences of many Black or Latina women. I recall tears shed by moms at the neonatal intensive care unit during my days as an interpreter and the cultural barriers that distanced them from the members of the medical team.
This past Minority Health Month we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Heckler Report. Since its release many initiatives have been put in place to bridge the gap and improve experiences for ethnic minorities, including immigrants. Over the years, data have shown that children born to immigrant mothers actually have better health outcomes than those born to US-born women. The challenge has always been how to connect these moms to the resources they need. It is especially difficult for women living in communities without large immigrant populations, where culturally competent resources are not readily available. Text4baby is a tool to bridge this information gap, connecting moms and moms-to-be to information and resources via their cell phones.
I have reaped the benefits of access to quality medical care, and a strong support system.
Text4baby is the nation’s only free mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health. Women who text BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411 receive three free text messages a week, timed to their due date or baby’s birth date, through pregnancy and up until baby’s first birthday. The messages address topics such as prenatal care, urgent alerts, developmental milestones, immunizations, nutrition, birth defect prevention, safe sleep, safety, and more.
Since Text4baby launched, over 49,500 individuals have signed up in Spanish.1 Among the Spanish-language participants, 44% live in zip codes where over 25% of families live in poverty, compared with 40% of the general US Hispanic population. A George Washington University-led randomized evaluation found that Text4baby mothers were nearly three times more likely to believe that they were prepared to be new mothers compared to those in the no exposure control group.
I encourage you to share Text4baby within your community, join the partnership, and show women how to sign-up by texting BABY or BEBE to 511411. My hope is that other women may benefit from this free service as I have, and feel more empowered to lead healthy lives for themselves and their families.
- Text4baby does not routinely collect race or ethnicity data, therefore, the results included in this overview apply only to the Text4baby participants who have signed-up for the service in Spanish