Monique Rainford, MD, a Yale Medicine obstetrician-gynecologist was just 7 years old when she started to think a medical career might be her future.
“I burst open my chin and my parents took me to an urgent care. The doctor stitched me back up and gave me a 50 cent coin. His kindness and care sparked my first interest in medicine,” says Dr. Rainford, who grew up in Jamaica. “I also had a female pediatrician who had a positive influence on me.”
In medical school, Dr. Rainford says she was 99% sure she would specialize in pediatrics—until she did a rotation in Ob/Gyn and assisted in a delivery. “I remember all the love and emotion and happiness. It was so powerful, and I was sold,” she says.
Dr. Rainford provides general Ob/Gyn care and one of her goals is eliminating health disparities for African American women. Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy- related cause than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I have a passion to close the gap in these disparities, which are based on multiple issues related to racism and race-based inequities,” she says. “Among the things we hope to set up is surveying pregnant women about unseen barriers so that we can have better interventions.”
Lifestyle medicine is one way to help, Dr. Rainford says. “I believe that with enough support, women can overcome many health issues by modifying what we eat, how we exercise, the toxic substances we put in our bodies, and the relationships we have,” she says. “You need to address these issues, as they are some of the causes that lead to hypertension and other problems that require medication.”
Making these improvements, Dr. Rainford says, can also alleviate stress, another major problem, particularly for African American women. “Some of the stress Black women feel is from racism. Giving them the usual care isn’t enough. We need to do more,” she says.
Dr. Rainford is a public speaker and writer. She has written two books, “The Maternal Glow: A Jamaican Woman’s Guide to Pregnancy” and “Please God Send Me a Husband.”