Maternal & Infant Health Project

The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation serves economically vulnerable mothers and babies by increasing access to high-quality maternal and infant care. Our work carries on the legacy of Jenn Lawson, who was passionate about making available to all mothers the same level of care she received for her own complicated pregnancies.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, infants born to mothers who don’t receive prenatal care are “three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.” 

But too many moms aren’t able to access the kind of care they want — and deserve — for themselves and their babies. More than one-third of births in Washington, DC, receive no prenatal care in the first trimester, according to the city’s Department of Health. That number is not much better in neighboring Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, where 29-30% of women didn’t receive prenatal care during their first trimesters. In Arlington County, VA, 1 in 5 births in the county lacked care in the first trimester — a number that is worse than the state average.

The first trimester can be a critical time for doctors to catch chronic health conditions of the mother that could affect the health of both mom and baby. 

In the second and third trimesters, too many disadvantaged and economically vulnerable moms face obstacles to prenatal care such as lack of paid leave or flexibility with work, childcare concerns, distance to care or transportation costs. When that care is received, it may not be culturally competent or free of bias

These are among the clinical and social determinants that have led to ever-increasing rates of maternal mortality, as well as maternal near-miss events, in the U.S. — the highest in the developed world. Shockingly, Washington, DC’s maternal mortality rate is nearly double that of the U.S.

JB-LF envisions a community where all mothers and newborns – regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status – receive the support they need to thrive. We’re working to make this vision a reality through partnerships and collaborations with health providers in the community, education, research and events.