Chelsea Clinton and Allyson Felix Unite to Lead the Charge for Better Maternity Care in the US
Just days after a news report examining the impact of the closure of a string of labor and delivery services across the country was published, Oula, a modern maternity clinic, and Glamour gathered a group of powerful leaders for a thought-provoking lunch to discuss the importance of improved maternal and postpartum care.
On March 1, women working in health care, advocacy, media, sports, and business gathered at the Freehand Hotel in New York City to discuss the urgent maternal health crisis in the United States, including paid leave, labor, delivery, and postpartum—critical issues that have too long been ignored.
The event was kicked off with a panel hosted by public health expert Chelsea Clinton, in discussion with Olympian Allyson Felix, Glamour executive editor Natasha Pearlman, Oula cofounder and COO Elaine Purcell, and Oula lead midwife Saonjie Hamilton. Attendees included Glamour Woman of the Year Misty Copeland, Gayle King, Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson, Paid Leave for All founding director Dawn Huckelbridge, and entrepreneur and investor Hannah Bronfman.
The event kicked off with a warm welcome from Oula cofounder and CEO Adrianne Nickerson and Glamour Americas editorial director Samantha Barry. Nickerson highlighted Oula’s vibrant and innovative midwife-led models of care, centering patients with personalized care to reduce emergency C-section and preterm birth rates. Additionally, she expressed her commitment to advocating for workforce development, particularly for midwives of color. Meanwhile, Barry spoke about Glamour's long history of advocating for women's issues, most recently in the fight for national paid leave.
The panel discussion that followed was a sobering reminder of the urgent need to address maternal health care. Clinton shared the startling statistic “that women delivering today are 50% more likely to die in childbirth or from childbirth-related complications than our own mothers were,” with the crisis disproportionately affecting Black and brown women. Felix also shared her experience with childbirth. Having initially assumed her athletic background would protect her during pregnancy, she developed preeclampsia at 32 weeks. She stressed the importance of redirecting attention and resources to address this crisis, “It's really about creating systemic change.” Hamilton underscored the holistic approach that midwives bring, focusing not only on the baby but also on the birthing person's physical, emotional, and mental well-being. She summed up the discussion, “We glorify how beautiful birth is, but we don't talk about how you feel in that moment when you are sleep-deprived, your baby is crying, and you feel like you're going out of your mind. So when we see our patients for their six-week [pospartum] visit, we really speak to them. We wanna see how they're doing, especially mentally.”
Continuing the conversation Purcell spoke about Oula's mission to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, regardless of race, geography, or income. Meanwhile, Pearlman delved into the impact of media coverage on maternal health issues. She noted Glamour's recent coverage of the Paid Leave Project, which has received an extraordinary response from women, many of whom had gone through similar experiences as the eight mothers featured in the package. She stressed that it's, unfairly, falling on the shoulders of women to make noise and encourage the government to take action. Which is why she feels it’s so important for the media to shed light on this issue and tell the stories of real women facing often insurmountable challenges. Pearlman highlighted the story of Karina Garcia, whose postpartum journey Glamour followed and who had to return to work six days after giving birth.
Clinton wrapped up the panel by expressing her gratitude to the panelists for their unwavering commitment to addressing maternal health despite the discouraging data and tragic stories surrounding maternal health. The attendees then continued this vital discussion over lunch, sharing their own experiences and hopes and work for change.
To learn more about Oula and its innovative approach to maternal health care, visit oulahealth.com. And see below for pictures from the panel and luncheon.
- More from Glamour
- More from Glamour