An overall improvement in infant mortality rates in Alabama may appear as welcome news, but there are troubling findings within recent state health reports. The gap between infant mortality rates for black and white babies in Alabama is huge – and it’s growing. Black babies in Alabama died at three times the rate of white babies in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.
Jessica Thompson didn’t take her eyes off the glowing dashboard clock as her husband sped their minivan through the night, heading north on a deserted country highway somewhere in Lauderdale County. The contractions were two minutes apart now, on the dot.
She tried to focus on breathing. It was just after 4 a.m. on a mild April morning.
She pumped her breastmilk in the locker room at the police station. Shirt askew, horn-shaped pump parts – technically called breastshields – held up to the breasts while a pump hums loudly, using suction to express breastmilk into small bottles.
Pumping breastmilk is worthwhile, but it isn’t particularly dignified.
It was a bad morning. After months of work, Ashley Sparks had finally gotten her 5-year-old daughter Brinley to a point where she could put her pajamas into the laundry basket every morning before getting dressed.
It sounds like a simple thing. For Brinley, though, even simple jobs can be frustrating to the point of tears.
“Really, there are no other options,” said the mom of three, who lives with her husband and children in Camden, Ala., located in rural Wilcox County. “I guess we’ve gotten used to it.”