The Mrs. The Mommy. The M.D.: Black Maternal Health Week 2021: Get Informed and Get Involved!
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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Black Maternal Health Week 2021: Get Informed and Get Involved!

This week is Black Maternal Health Week!

BMHW was started by The Black Mamas Matter Alliance with the following goals {taken from their website here}

  • Deepen the national conversation about Black maternal health in the US
  • Amplify community-driven policy, research, and care solutions
  • Center the voices of Black Mamas, women, families, and stakeholders
  • Provide a national platform for Black-led entities and efforts on maternal health, birth and reproductive justice
  • Enhance community organizing on Black maternal health

The week ends with the kick off of the fourth annual Black Maternal Health Conference which I am so excited to be able to virtually attend. 

Why do we need a week?

I’m glad you asked. 

We all know disparities are everywhere. 

What do we call a disparity in economic resources?  Wealth gap

What about in education? Achievement gap

What do we call a disparity in imprisonment? School to prison pipeline

Source: Racial Equity Institute

It is our nation’s crippling inequities among those of difference racial or ethnic groups, a result of structural and societal racism, that not only effect the outcomes across multiple societal domains, but rob birthing people and their families who look like me of the birthing experience we all deserve. 

See, even in a country that spends an astronomical amount of health care, approximately 700 birthing people die from pregnancy related causes every year and the Black community continues to bare the burden of those losses. 

American Indian/Alaska Native and Black women are 2 to 3 times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. But this isn’t a new issue and it has not gotten better with time. 

The CDC has some great information on the most recent pregnancy related mortality rates (PRMR) {here}

Source: CDC

Even in states with the lowest PRMR, the PRMR for Black patients was about 3 times as high as the PRMR for White patients.

Source: CDC

And the PRMR doesn’t improve for Black patients with education like is does for White patients. In fact the PRMR for Black patients with a college degree is FIVE TIMES that of their White counterparts. And while White patients see the PRMR drop by almost 2/3rds when they go from less than a high school education to having a college degree or higher. 

For Black patients, the rate barely moves. In fact, a Black patient with a college degree or higher has a higher PRMR than a White patient who did not finish high school. 

Source: CDC

In research we like to make sure we “control for confounding variables”. It is a way simulate “all things being equal”. You know, to make sure differences outside of the the association (like education or income) isn’t causing the outcome we see. So that means, "all things being equal" studies continue to prove that being pregnant while Black is a fight for your life. 

Although maternal mortality is one of the most jarring disparities, it is not the only one. 

  • Infant mortality, preterm birth rates, breastfeeding, pain management, infertility, and contraceptive access all have their own inequities.  The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine has a great infographic on racism’s impact on pregnancy outcomes linked with sources {here} and also Black Mamas Matter has an awesome toolkit. 

I encourage you to use this week to help raise awareness on the issues and check out the events and listen in on the powerful discussions happening all over the web for #BMHW. 

Not sure where to start?! There is so much great content this week so it is the perfect time to jump in: 

Black Mamas Matter Alliance Toolkit: 

National Birth Equity Collaborative:

Ancient Song Doula Services:

Also, follow along on instagram where many of us are using the #BMHW2021 hashtag keep the conversation going. 

Be well!

#BMHW21 #BlackMamasMatter #BlackMaternalHealthWeek #BirthJustice #MaternalEquity #BlackMaternalHealth

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