Black Mamas Matter Alliance: Shifting the Culture for Black Maternal Health
The Black Mamas Matter Alliance’s (BMMA) Mission is to “advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice.”
As a national network of Black women-led organizations and multi-disciplinary professionals, the organization works to ensure that “all Black Mamas have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy.” BMMA honors the work and historical contributions of Black women’s leadership within their communities, and values the need to amplify this work on a national scale. The alliance is composed of existing organizations and individuals whose work is deeply rooted in reproductive justice, birth justice, and human rights frameworks.
BMMA uses the phrase “Black Mamas” to represent the full diversity of our lived experiences that includes birthing persons (cis women, trans folks, and gender expansive individuals) that are people of African descent across the diaspora (Afro-Latinx, AfricanAmerican, Afro-Caribbean, Black, and African Immigrant).
One of the major initiatives founded by BMMA is Black Maternal Health Week, which will take place April 11th-17th, 2023. Black Maternal Health Week is a week of awareness, activism, and community-building aimed at amplifying the voices of Black Mamas, and centering the values and traditions of the reproductive and birth justice movements. BMHW is held annually in April during National Minority Health Month. BMHW23 is, above all, a week dedicated to educating and advocating for Black Mamas.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications. Almost two-thirds of those deaths are preventable. In 2020, the maternal mortality rate for Black women was three times the rate for White women in the United States.
Black mothers are also more likely to suffer from PMADs (Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders) like postpartum depression, in silence, and without help.
This year’s theme for Black Maternal Mental Health Week is “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy, ” which speaks to Black Mamas’ strength, power and resilience, and the unassailable right to live freely, safely, and joyfully. In light of the alarming rise of maternal deaths in the U.S., and amidst growing cases of clear neglect in care in hospital systems immediately after labor and delivery, BMMA continues to highlight and center culturally-congruent practices with a focus on Black midwifery care and full spectrum Black-led Doula care as sound, evidence-based solutions. Most importantly, these are practices and solutions that incorporate the true needs, wants and desires of Black women and birthing people.
BMMA is currently publishing “Black Mamas Matter: In Policy and Practice,” a comprehensive, issues and values-based policy agenda. This agenda includes policy recommendations on 1) social determinants of Black Maternal Health, 2) full spectrum maternal, sexual, and reproductive health care, 3) Black maternal and perinatal workforce development, 4) criminalization of Black women, birthing people, and families, 5) research and data transformation, and 6) Black women and birthing people’s leadership. BMMA’s agenda serves as a call to action for Black Mamas, policymakers, advocates, and activists to use this agenda to push for policy change at the federal, state, and local levels.
At Matrescence, we stand in solidarity with all Black Mamas, and reaffirm that every mother deserves access to wellness in their parenting journey. We will continue to amplify the voices of Black mamas and shine a light on Black Maternal Health in all aspects of the work we do and the experience we bring to our community. Join us in commemorating BMMA’s 6th annual Black Maternal Health Week and the movement to change the state of Black Maternal Health.
How you can help:
* Donate to BMMA’s annual Fundraising Day held on April 13, 2023 here
* Follow Black Mamas Matter Alliance here