The path to health and wellness is not always easy, and women in particular face diverse and unique health concerns across their lifespan. When seeking quality, preventative care, many women encounter barriers such as, access, awareness, affordability, availability and gender bias. This is especially relevant to reproductive and maternal health.
As we wrap up the year, we reflect and acknowledge the critical year this has been for women’s health and women’s rights, as well as the steps we took as a company to create meaningful change for our communities.
Why reproductive and maternal health matters
The term “chief medical officers” is now often used to describe the mother’s role as the primary healthcare decision-makers for their families. In the United States, mothers make approximately 80% of healthcare decisions for their children, (15) and this begins before the child is even born.
Studies have shown a strong connection between a woman’s health before pregnancy and the health of both mother and baby during and after pregnancy. The impact of women’s health during pregnancy can affect generations, but awareness of this connection is not widespread. (11)
Pregnancy poses significant risks to a woman’s health. Unintended pregnancies can lead to higher levels of stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem for the pregnant women, (1) which can potentially lead to a child being born pre-term and/or at a lower birth-rate. (5)(10) One study found that many women of reproductive age will not be nutritionally prepared for pregnancy. (11) Furthermore, a recent study found that maternal mortality* in the United States increased by 18.4% in the first year of the pandemic—especially among Hispanic and Black women. (6) New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 80% pregnancy-related deaths were preventable. (2)
So what did we do? Fullscript believes in protecting and supporting the health of women—for our employees and within the communities we serve.
Supporting the women at Fullscript
At Fullscript, 36% of our team members currently identify as female. In the spring of 2022, our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Council officially launched our first-ever Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) program.
What are Employee Resource Groups?
“Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives.” (3)
One of the first groups to form was the Women at Fullscript ERG, whose mission is to provide a safe space for women at Fullscript to discuss, learn, and feel supported, and a place for allies to support women co-workers. The Women at Fullscript ERG hosts quarterly discussions on various topics affecting women in the workplace, including women’s health and wellness.
“At Fullscript, we care deeply about each other, and the diverse experiences of our teammates. Women often face gender bias in both the workplace and in healthcare. One of the first steps in breaking down those barriers is creating a safe space to talk about them. That’s what we’ve created with the Women at Fullscript ERG.” – Heather Tyrie, Chief Talent Officer, Fullscript
Elevating maternal health globally with Vitamin Angels
As a rapidly growing company in the integrative medicine space, we acknowledge that quality and preventative care is not widely accessible—especially within low-income and underserved communities. That’s why we decided to partner with Vitamin Angels to give back on Black Friday.
Vitamin Angels is a public health nonprofit that collaborates with more than 1,200 local organizations in 65 countries, including governments, to deliver evidence-based nutrition interventions and services. These services reach 70 million pregnant women, infants, and children in the United States, Canada, and other countries around the world each year.
Vitamin Angels focuses specifically on maternal and children’s health, and the intergenerational impact that can have across communities. During pregnancy, women have an increased need for nutrients that may not be able to be obtained from a healthy diet alone. (4) According to new research, there is a steady rise in food and nutrition insecurity across the world. (14) Food insecurity puts pregnant women from low-income, or from food deserts, more at risk for essential nutrient deficiency for a healthy pregnancy.
How is Vitamin Angels helping?
“Proven nutrition interventions have the power to help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, poor health, and adverse well-being. By helping to extend these interventions to the people who are most underserved by existing systems, Vitamin Angels helps entire communities grow stronger for generations to come.” (17)
Vitamin Angels partners with local community organizations to deliver the following evidence-based nutrition interventions. (17)
1. Prenatal vitamins and minerals (multiple micronutrient supplements)
Pregnant women are given prenatal supplements to support them throughout their entire pregnancy. Access to daily multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS) allows the women to meet their nutritional needs during pregnancy. The earlier a woman begins taking MMS and the more adherent they are to taking it, the greater the impact the nutrients may have on the health of both mother and child.
2. Vitamin A + albendazole
Children in the Vitamin Angels program receive one dose of vitamin A every four to six months starting at age six months until they reach their fifth birthday. (16) Children residing in areas with inadequate sanitation and unhygienic conditions are at a greater risk for intestinal worm infections, which are associated with a significant loss of micronutrients. (13) Adding albendazole, an antiparasitic medication, to a vitamin A intervention ensures optimal absorption of nutrients (16)
3. Promotion of optimal nutrition for pregnant women, infants, and young children
Improving knowledge, attitudes, and norms around nutrition starts with increased access to nutrition education and behavior change communication. Vitamin Angels focuses on providing training and resources to their community program partners around maternal health and feeding practices for infants and young children, including breastfeeding and nutrition.
“Mothers truly want what is best for their children and will go through hoops to make sure that their kids have their needs met—and that includes traveling long distances.” – NuDay, Syria (Vitamin Angel Program Partner)
Fullscript is proud to support Vitamin Angels as they work to improve access to preventative care and vital nutrition, so that everyone gets an equal chance to grow, thrive, and prosper.
Through our Black Friday donation to Vitamin Angels, we are helping Vitamin Angels reach 22,984 moms and children with vital nutrition. If you are interested in supporting the work of Vitamin Angels, we encourage you to learn more by visiting https://www.vitaminangels.org/donate
Creating meaningful change together
As mothers, caregivers, partners, professionals, sisters, and more, women are the foundation for their families and their communities. How do we ensure the health and well-being of the next generation? We need to empower the women in our workplaces and communities to access better-quality care and continue to prioritize the advancement of women’s health as an industry.
As leaders in the integrative medicine space, we acknowledge the privilege of having access to high-quality integrative care and health education, and we’re on a mission to make it more accessible to all. We invite you to join us as we continue to learn, grow, and champion this mission together.
- Biggs, M. A., Upadhyay, U. D., McCulloch, C. E., & Foster, D. G. (2017). Women’s Mental Health and Well-being 5 Years After Receiving or Being Denied an Abortion. JAMA Psychiatry, 74(2), 169. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.3478
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Four in 5 pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable. In Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 23, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p0919-pregnancy-related-deaths.html.
- Employee Resource Groups Archives. (n.d.). Catalyst. https://www.catalyst.org/topics/ergs/
- Guidelines Review Committee. (2016, November 28). WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241549912
- Hall, J. A., Benton, L., Copas, A., & Stephenson, J. (2017). Pregnancy Intention and Pregnancy Outcome: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 21(3), 670–704. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-016-2237-0
- Hoyert DL. Maternal mortality rates in the United States, 2020. NCHS Health E-Stats. 2022. DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.15620/cdc:113967
- Maternal deaths. (n.d.). World Health Organization. Retrieved November 23, 2022, from https://www.who.int/data/gho/indicator-metadata-registry/imr-details/4622#
- Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2020. (n.d.). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/maternal-mortality/2020/maternal-mortality-rates-2020.htm
- Seven Facts to Know about Women’s Health | Health Equity Features | CDC. (n.d.). https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/7facts-womens-health/index.html
- Shah, P. S., Balkhair, T., Ohlsson, A., Beyene, J., Scott, F., & Frick, C. (2009). Intention to Become Pregnant and Low Birth Weight and Preterm Birth: A Systematic Review. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 15(2), 205–216. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-009-0546-2
- Stephenson, J., Heslehurst, N., Hall, J., Schoenaker, D. A. J. M., Hutchinson, J., Cade, J. E., Poston, L., Barrett, G., Crozier, S. R., Barker, M., Kumaran, K., Yajnik, C. S., Baird, J., & Mishra, G. D. (2018). Before the beginning: nutrition and lifestyle in the preconception period and its importance for future health. The Lancet, 391(10132), 1830–1841. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(18)30311-8
- Stevenson, A. J. (2021, December 1). The Pregnancy-Related Mortality Impact of a Total Abortion Ban in the United States: A Research Note on Increased Deaths Due to Remaining Pregnant | Demography | Duke University Press. https://read.dukeupress.edu/demography/article/58/6/2019/265968/The-Pregnancy-Related-Mortality-Impact-of-a-Total
- Stoltzfus, R. J., Savioli, L., Tielsch, J., Schulze, K., Yip, R., Albonico, M., & Chwaya, H. M. (1996). Hemoquant Determination of Hookworm-Related Blood Loss and Its Role in Iron Deficiency in African Children. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 55(4), 399–404. https://doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.1996.55.399
- The state of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022. (n.d.). https://www.fao.org/3/cc0639en/online/cc0639en.html
- U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. (n.d.). General Facts on Women and Job Based Health. In U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/fact-sheets/women-and-job-based-health.pdf
- Vitamin Angels. (n.d.-a). Vitamin A Supplementation + Deworming Fact Sheet. https://www.vitaminangels.org/assets/content/uploads/VAS+D_Fact_Sheet_20180207.pdf
- Vitamin Angels. (n.d.-b). Vitamin Angels Media Kit (2022). https://www.vitaminangels.org/assets/content/uploads/VA22_Media_Kit_v5.pdf