October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Every day, Sachena Richardson and Shanade Wells-Anderson save infant lives. As HCAM’s Safe Sleep Coordinators, they spend their days educating new parents about the importance of Safe Sleep and providing families with limited means a safe sleep environment for their infants. In October, HealthCare Access Maryland (HCAM) and B’More for Healthy Babies celebrates the lifechanging work that they do for Baltimore City families, while acknowledging there is still more to be done.
So far this year, 15* Baltimore City infants have lost their life in a sleep-related infant death. In 2021, there were 16 sleep-related infant deaths. From 2016-2020, there were 60 sleep-related infant deaths. From 2015-2019, Baltimore City’s SUID (sudden unexpected infant death) rate was 140.7 deaths per 100,000 live births- which is nearly twice the state average.
HCAM and B’more for Healthy Babies have shared the message of A, B, C, D with all pregnant and new parents via their messaging.
- Alone. Babies should never sleep with anyone else. Share a room, but not a bed with your baby.
- Back. Babies should always sleep on their backs. Babies are less likely to choke when on their backs.
- Crib. Babies should always sleep in a crib – every night and every nap. The crib should be clean and clear. There should be no toys or blankets in the crib.
- Don’t Smoke. Never smoke cigarettes or marijuana in a home with babies, young children, or pregnant women. Smoke in the home makes it harder for babies to breathe well.
While many new parents have heard this message, it is many times still difficult to families to ensure that their infant has a safe sleep environment at all times. For families who do not have the resources to provide a crib for the infant, a referral to the HCAM Safe Sleep program offers them the opportunity to receive Safe Sleep education from a trained Safe Sleep Coordinator, as well as the delivery of a new pack n play (portable crib) and a sleep sack to ensure their baby has a safe and secure sleep environment. In FY 2022, the Safe Sleep program delivered 261 pack n plays to Baltimore City residents, and provided 279 clients with safe sleep education, environmental assessments, as well as education on family planning, birth spacing and contraceptive use. In the 1st quarter of FY 2023, the Safe Sleep team delivered 69 cribs and during the month of October, the team has already delivered 11 cribs for infants around Baltimore City.
In addition to the HCAM Safe Sleep team’s efforts every day, the B’More for Healthy Babies Initiative is also acknowledging the importance of Safe Sleep Awareness and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month with several events acknowledging families that have lost an infant. Our partners at Roberta’s House held two events this month to honor all families who have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss.
Roberta’s House offers the Healing Ourselves Through Peer Empowerment (H.O.P.E) Project. The H.O.P.E. Project provides grief counseling to mothers who have experienced pregnancy loss, stillbirth, and/or the loss of an infant who did not reach their first birthday. H.O.P.E provides inter-conception care and services through their twelve-month home visiting program for Baltimore City residents. Their services include grief counseling, grief tools, relationships/support systems, birth spacing, healthy coping skills, and future goal planning.
The H.O.P.E. Project also offers two unique ten-week peer support groups, S.A.M. (Still a Mom) and L.A.L. (Life After Loss). Both support groups are held at Roberta’s House every Monday evening from 6pm-8pm.
For more information about The H.O.P.E. Project, contact Angela Dunlap at 410-235-6633, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can access HCAM’s crib referral form here. It can be sent to email@example.com. Priority is given to babies who have already been delivered and are at home, however, referrals for prenatal clients that are at least 36 weeks gestation are accepted.
BCHD Analysis of DHMH Vital Statistics
2021 Baltimore City CFR 5-Year Report.pdf