Before celebrating the birth of a healthy baby boy in July 2021, our Founder, Vu-An Foster, MPH, experienced two painful preventable pregnancy losses for which she saw that structural racism and implicit bias were clearly contributing factors. To cope with her pregnancy losses, Vu-An joined a support group that consisted of other women experiencing depression and anxiety stemming from their experiences with miscarriage, pregnancy, and infant loss. While actively participating and connecting with the women in these groups, Vu-An observed a disconnect to which she desired to be a bridge.
First, Vu-An believed in the transformative power of community that can be leveraged to aid recovery. However, the support group format only led participants to relive their loss session after session, which only seemed to fuel the depression and anxiety instead of providing the empowerment needed to get back to a place where they could live with their loss healthily. Moreover, Vu-An realized that a number of other women and families, especially women and families of color, were silently hurting in isolation that could truly benefit from having a community to not only grieve with but also heal. It was then that Vu-An decided to be that resource.
Vu-An founded Life After 2 Losses. Soon after, she turned her emerging organization into a nonprofit to inform, support, and empower women, families, and communities to cope with miscarriage, pregnancy, and infant losses and provide strategies to prevent pregnancy losses.
Shortly after delivering her son, Vu-An felt something was very wrong with her health, but was turned away from the hospital multiple times until she felt sure she was dying – something that happens all too often to Black women, whose expressions of pain, studies have found, are routinely minimized and ignored by health workers who jump to help white women expressing the same concerns.* Thanks to Vu-An’s health literacy and advocacy skills, she managed to get herself treatment for what turned out to be severe postpartum preeclampsia, a life-threatening condition. This experience showed her the need to train other BIPOC mamas in the health literacy and self-advocacy skills that had saved her life, and she added this to LA2L services to help save more lives. Additionally, through Life After 2 Losses, Vu-An became committed to promoting policy development regarding infant and maternal mortality while addressing other racial disparities that disproportionately affect BIPOC women and children regarding health equity, implicit bias, and structural racism.
*Hoffman, K. M., Trawalter, S., Axt, J. R., & Oliver, M. N. (2016, April 19). Racial bias in pain assessment and treatment recommendations, and false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843483/