Introduction: Prioritizing Indigenous Maternal and Infant Health

An Excerpt

Indigenous communities continually experience poorer health outcomes than the general populations of the countries they live in. Maternal and infant outcomes are a fundamental indicator of the health of populations, and the differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous outcomes are marked. Indigenous communities also experience higher birth rates; younger populations; barriers to accessing health care; and higher rates of suicide, addiction, incarceration, family violence, and apprehension of children. The health and well-being of Indigenous mothers and their babies is central to understanding how these disparities are embodied, reproduced, challenged, and overcome.
Research in the area of maternal and infant health has the potential to play an important role in addressing disparities. Issues of health outcomes, access to health care and education, place of birth, provision and sustainability of midwifery services, breastfeeding, current maternal health policies and practices, and social determinants of health all contribute to our understanding of this issue. As attention to both maternal and infant health policy and the health and well-being of Indigenous communties becomes more prevalent in wider national and global discourses, research and evidence regarding Indigenous maternal and infant health is increasingly relevant. This special issue of Pimatisiwin contributes to the dialogue from a unique perspective: work from practitioners in the field of maternal and infant health, and in particular, from midwives working with Indigenous populations.

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