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Black Mamas Matter

Improving Black Maternal Health

Aliyah is a birth worker. She helps moms with newborn care and support. Aliyah became a doula to empower women. She provides emotional, physical and educational support to expecting moms. Aliyah knows Black/African American women experience worse birth outcomes and she wants to help improve Black maternal health.

April 11-17 is Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW). For Black/African American women, it’s a great time to:

  • Raise awareness about Black maternal and reproductive health.
  • Address maternal health disparities.

During the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to make sure women have resources for a healthy pregnancy.

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Chronic stress harms health

Black Mamas Matter developed BMHW to highlight maternal health disparities among Black/African American women. Black women experience chronic stress because of racism and socioeconomic disadvantages. And inequity harms health. It disrupts almost every system in the body—immune, digestive, reproductive and cardiovascular. Nationwide, Black women experience:

  • Pregnancy-related death at a rate 4 times higher than White women.
  • Higher rates of preventable diseases and chronic health conditions—like diabetes or hypertension—which lead to high-risk pregnancies.
  • Suffer higher rates of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs).
  • Babies with lower birth weights, which increases the incidences of infant death.

Healthy moms. Healthy babies.

In Pierce County, the rate of low birth weight among Black/African American babies is about 40% higher than in other counties. We strive to change these outcomes through our Black Infant Health (BIH) program, which supports Black/African families through advocacy, empowerment and resources:

 

  • Public Health Nurses provide one-on-one home visits and consultations.
  • Community Health Workers connect women to community resources.
  • Health Ministers provide spiritual and emotional support.

Racial justice and equity for all

Health equity means everyone can reach their full health—physical, mental, and social—potential. We must address racial justice and racial equity to achieve health equity. We create policies, practices and actions to achieve racial equity for all. Last year, our racism response began with the Black community because of recent events and long-term trends that affect our community. We seek to dismantle racism and create policies, practices, and environments that foster racial justice and equity for all.

What you can do

Black maternal and reproductive health is vital to the well-being of mothers, infants and children. Before you make an important health decision, get all the details—learn the pros of cons and educate yourself on the long-term effects of your decision. Make the decision without feeling pressured to choose a certain option. Bring along a support person—your partner, family member or doula—and get answers to your medical questions. Your race, gender identity, religion, age or disability should not influence the quality of your care.

To help improve maternal and reproductive health disparities, you can:

  • Share this blog with family and friends.
  • Encourage your local legislator to expand doula services in Washington. Women who get help from a doula are two times less likely to experience birth complications.
  • Support organizations that advocate for and improve maternal health rights like the National Association to Advance Black Birth and Black Mamas Matter.