Black Maternal Health Week: Advocating for a Community in Crisis
Black Maternal Health Week is April 11-17, 2023, part of the larger National Minority Health Month which is observed throughout April. While all mamas are at risk of mental health challenges during or following pregnancy, Black women are much more likely than white mothers to suffer from a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) such as postpartum depression. In fact, close to 40% of Black mothers will suffer from postpartum depression -- more than DOUBLE the rate of the general population.
As the building data highlights the vast disparities in maternal health care between Black mamas and the White population, we support the Black Mamas Matter Alliance as it seeks to “advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice.” This year’s theme for Black Maternal Health Week is “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy.”
Socioeconomic status and systemic racism are leading factors in the increased rates of PMAD among Black mamas. Risk factors include:
- Lack of access to quality medical care
- Higher risk of pregnancy and childbirth complications
- Lack of social support
- Financial barriers, including lack of paid time off from work and gaps in medical insurance
- Unsafe neighborhoods
- Increased stress
- Exposure to trauma
Moreover, despite being twice as likely to suffer from a PMAD, Black mothers are less likely to seek treatment than white women. The way the healthcare system is failing Black mothers is sure to play a role in the hesitancy: Black mothers are nearly three times more at risk of maternal mortality than white mothers. Additional reasons point to the lack of access and distrust of the health system that stems from systemic racism:
- Lack of access to quality healthcare
- Distrust in the healthcare system
- Lack of diversity in healthcare
- Less screening for mental health conditions in women of color
- Mental health stigma
- Lack of insurance and finances
At the core of our Mission is our belief that every mother deserves access to wellness in their parenting journey. We will continue to join organizations like the Black Mamas Matter Alliance and Birth Queen - organizations at the forefront of raising awareness and advocating for interventions - to amplify the voices of Black mamas and shine a light on the health crisis facing racial and ethnic minorities. By working toward solutions, we will create a world where all mothers have access to the resources and the support needed to thrive, regardless of race.
How you can help:
Black Mamas Matter Alliance’s Mission is to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice.
Birth Queen educates, supports, and empowers black women, parents and birthing people, enriching the Black birth experience and helping save lives
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