Black Maternal Health Week

April 9, 2019

Black Maternal Health Week

Post by Ericka Dorsey of the California Breastfeeding Coalition

In the wealthiest country in the world, a country that spends more than any other on health care, it may baffle some that the maternal mortality rate is the highest of all developed countries. The CDC estimates that an average of 830 women will die yearly from childbirth complications in the US. It is even further baffling that over 70% of those estimated women will be African-American (AA), a group that makes up less than 14% of the female population. Houston, we have a problem.

We have known for years that maternal mortality is a primary indicator of the quality of care for a nation. Access to quality health care directly impacts maternal health outcomes, but even when women have access, how are they being treated? The data shows us that women of color experience implicit bias and racism in health care settings no matter their socioeconomic status. Many researchers believe this is contributing to the high rates of maternal mortality.

The numbers in the last 10-15 years have shown an increase in maternal mortality rates, particularly among AA women, and many health care professionals, nurses, and doctors have gone from being alarmed, to being proactive. We cannot continue to watch these numbers climb, we must directly address the bias and racism that is impeding black mother’s ability to thrive after giving birth.

The Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA), founded to improve maternal health outcomes among other objectives, established the Black Maternal Health Week to bring awareness to the health inequities facing black women. This year, Black Maternal Health Week is April 11th-17th. The BMMA will be working with organizations across the country to educate and offer tools and other resources for community support via live presentations as well as Twitter chats.

Here in California, there are several events and the California Breastfeeding Coalition is partnering with BMMA to offer a free event in Oakland, CA on April 17th entitled Prioritizing Black Maternal Health: Breastfeeding, Media, and Public Health. This event will showcase several leading experts in the fields of breastfeeding and maternal health. We encourage you to come out and learn more about how we can support our Black Mothers in California!!! Space will be limited, so please register soon, lunch will be provided!!

Trends in Maternal Mortality by Socio-Demographic Characteristics and Cause of Death in 27 States and the District of Columbia

A Multifaceted Approach to Addressing Persistent and Dire Health Disparities

Why Is Giving Birth in the U.S. so Dangerous for Women of Color?

Implicit Bias: Peanut Butter, Jelly and Racism