This April 11-17, 2019 was the second annual Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW).
The movement takes place in National Minority Health Month and is designed to raise awareness about Black maternal health in the United States. Through online activities and in-person events, the Campaign uses human rights, reproductive justice, and birth justice frameworks to amplify the voices and research of Black women around an important health issue.
Poor maternal health outcomes are on the rise in the US; and large disparities exist between races in severe pregnancy complications and death. No matter Black women’s level of income or education, they are at a higher risk than White women for poor outcomes. Maternal death among Black women is four times higher than among White women. Any death related to pregnancy complications is a devastating tragedy for the family involved. The fact that the Black community is particularly impacted by this issue means more awareness must be raised and changes made.
Charts from the Maternal Health Task Force
Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) articulates eight steps that must be taken to ensure appropriate maternal care for all women.
- Respect Black women and their decisions surrounding her body and care.
- Educate women to provide knowledge, tools, and power to control their sexual, reproductive, and maternal care.
- Ensure access to care before, during, and after childbirth for all women, regardless of income.
- Prevent risk factors for poor maternal health outcomes like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Ensure access to high quality health care facilities and providers for all stages of care.
- Invest in the health and well-being of Black women and girls throughout the life-course to improve maternal health and prevent deaths.
- Collect qualitative and quantitative date to understand the impact of race and socioeconomic inequality on Black women’s health.
- Institute maternal mortality review boards and health programs that will hold institutions accountable.
What can you do to raise awareness and improve maternal health?