This is a traumatic, serious, preventative issue. – Jennifer Carroll Foy
Last week we participated as learners in Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW), learning from and centering the experiences, creativity, and beauty of black mothers and birthing people. We encourage you to watch / re-watch all that was shared to continue to build your own understanding. We want to honor that many of the resources we are pointing you to were generated by organizations who are part of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance as well as many other groups led by women of color. Links and resources are below to make it easy for you to connect.
We offer a few reflections from the week. First, the stories and wisdom shared last week illustrated the impact of historic and structural racism on maternal health and well-being. We must understand our past so that we can build a better future. At the same time, speakers, writers, and performers elevated the strength of black women who have organized, resisted, and birthed generations through fire. Black women are powerful, and Black women are transforming birth and parenting. For that we offer deep gratitude. The content shared last week didn’t shy away from the deep pain and loss wrought by our system’s inability to treat women of color with respect and care creates – trauma that is carried across generations. This pain calls us to action. Reproductive Justice focuses not only on having children safely but also on raising those children in safety. The recent killings of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo remind us that there is much work to be done on all levels to address the bias in this country.
The week was a reminder that we have a collective responsibility to provide excellent care so we can support all birthing people in a way that they feel seen, heard, loved, and cherished. Yes, loved and cherished. Birthing people in this country deserve nothing less. Pregnancy, birth, and early parenthood are a time when mothers are both incredibly vulnerable and tap into their deepest strengths. Birthing people deserve to be at the center, surrounded by services and supports provided by a diverse team. Finally, BMHW engaged art, creativity, and joy that are gifts that should infuse all of our work. This work is special and health care providers, including doulas, deserve to be supported by policies, systems, and administrative teams that enable them to serve birthing people in the best way possible.
The Maternal Health Learning and Innovation Center (MHLIC) is committed to Black moms and all moms year-round. We exist to help states, organizations and providers change the narrative so that the United States is the best place for birth, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, ability, geography, or gender expression. Now is the time! We have big plans for the summer – stay tuned for a wealth of new resources, opportunities to connect, and support. Together, we can make change happen.
We are all at this conference to create and birth something – it doesn’t have to be a child. Reproductive justice means also being able to create something safely. ” – Monica Simpson
News from Black Maternal Health Week:
The health care industry doesn’t realize the impact its biases have on the quality of health care. Thankfully, people are waking up… – Dr. Laura Riley
Visit Our Resource Center for Black Maternal Health Resources, including:
- State Strategies to Address the Black Maternal Health Crisis by National Academy for State Health Policy
- Black Birthing Bill of Rights by National Association to Advance Black Birth
- Black Mamas Matter Respectful Maternal Health Care Toolkit by Black Mamas Matter Alliance and the Center for Reproductive Rights
- Cultural Humility and Black Maternal Health in Historical Context by Dr. Jann Murray-Garcia
“Birthing is raw creative energy and we should stop trying to control it.” – Crystal Irby
BMMA Recap from Black Maternal Health Week 2021, #BMHW21
Click here for more recaps from #BMHW21.
Learn more about Black Mamas Matter Alliances’ Black Maternal Health Conference here.