April 17, 2020
Written by Mabel Bashorun
The week of April 11-17 is dedicated to Black Maternal Health Week, as founded by the non-profit organization, Black Mamas Matter Alliance. Founded in 2013, the organization took the call to action when the disparities in Black maternal health care became too dire to ignore. Their goals include changing policy, cultivating research, and advancing care for Black mothers.
The world is reminded of the reason why we need a week, and more, to highlight Black maternal health. The statistics are astonishing and real: Black women are 3 to 4 more times to die due to pregnancy-related complications than any other race group. Black infants die twice as often as non-Hispanic white infants.
These statistics beg the question: why? Simply put, such disparities in maternal and infant mortality are rooted in medical racism, underlying health conditions in the Black community, and access to good healthcare, just to name a few. When Black women do not receive the care they need to thrive before, during, and after childbirth, the risk of death or complications become even more prevalent. Deeper discussion and research must address how the American healthcare system needs structural changes in order to help Black women as a whole.
Although a lot of the work must change on a structural and social level, there are ways one can help support the cause. You can raise awareness, engage in dialogue, and promote solutions, policies, and research concerning black mothers. Black women need advocacy, support, and to be heard. A doula is a vital resource in supporting a family in the challenges they may face in pregnancy and childbirth.
For a Black and pregnant mother, here are ways to protect oneself:
– Hire a doula who can serve as a “go-between” for you when labor is intense and you don’t have the ability to stand up for yourself
– Educate yourself of various medical interventions
– Be aware of your medical history before, after, and in between pregnancies
– Assess your provider’s cultural competency
– Create a strong support system
– Build a close relationship with your provider
Black women, Black mothers deserve better. They deserve the rights, respect, and resources needed to thrive in motherhood.
Written by Mabel Bashorun
Mabel is a Certified Birth Doula and Guild member. Her passion for childbirth and motherhood stems from her unique story of trying to conceive and her belief that every woman should have an advocate during pregnancy and in the delivery room. She enjoys informing her clients on the importance of childbirth education, laboring options, and overall women’s wellness. Read her full bio here: https://thedoulaguild.com/about#favorites-1