A collage of images of different families, including same-sex parents, laughing, smiling, hugging, and/or holding hands

The C.A.R.E. Project Series: Why Inclusion Matters

Walking into a doctor’s office can take a lot of courage for some folks. For others, even with the Affordable Care Act, there can be financial or insurance barriers that are keeping them from seeking care. For members of the LGBTQIA community, there can be uncertainty around safety or support from their provider while trying to have medical assistance that isn’t overshadowed by their gender identity or sexual orientation. The complexity of how this can influence health outcomes is one of the reasons why inclusive medical spaces are supported by organizations like the IOM and ACOG. Simply put, it is the influence of minority stress, from lack of inclusion, that increases risk and undermines a patients efforts for mental and physical health.

In the realm of maternal child health, which in name itself can limit the perceived scope of care, the effects of this heightened level of stress due to lifelong discrimination increases several risks that are preventable through inclusion. Such risks include, but are not limited to:

  • increased risk of preterm and/or low-weight birth
  • reduced ability to produce milk
  • reduced letdown/release of milk while lactating
  • inhibiting the infants own developing anti-stress mechanisms

How can I be more inclusive in my practice?

Being culturally competent is the buzz term and a great place to start. It is also helpful to be culturally humble, which allows for the recognition that learning and unlearning certain things to improve your practice takes dedicated time and action. Also, it is help to consider how prepared you are to play a supportive role in your patients’ and clients’ experiences as they journey towards parenthood and/or expanding their existing family.

In order to help look at preparedness and acceptance, we’re currently seeking providers to participate in a research study that will be used to develop courses focused on skill- and resource-building necessary for more inclusive practices. If you are interested in taking the survey, you can find it here.

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