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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Smith

What You Need to Know About Black Maternal Health Week in 2023

Not many people know how Black Maternal Health Week started or what the significance of this week is. As a black mother, this week is extremely important to me. I remember being pregnant with my first child and the only fear I had was whether or not I was going to be a good mother. It wasn’t until after having my second child that I realized how life threatening that childbirth can be. Let’s face it, a lot of people make pregnancy out to be this beautiful thing that every woman should experience but in reality, it’s life threatening.

My blog will go over this important week and how we can all do our part as women to help reduce black maternal mortality and other pregnancy complications that we as women of color face.

What is Black Maternal Health Week?

Black Maternal Health Week takes place from April 11th to 17th. This week-long period is a time of advocacy, education, and action. Various organizations and corporations spread information about black maternal health. They also encourage people to take a more active part in this important reproductive issue. This includes creating health campaigns, activities and other events for BMHW.

Participating in BMHW is important, as we are able to collectively amplify the voices of black mothers and bring to light the inequities and challenges that women of color face in the healthcare system while they are pregnant.

Black Maternal Health Week activities and other advocacy campaigns are also meant to improve human rights and bring reproductive justice to black mamas who are often overlooked. So, this is something that we should all be taking part in this year. I’ll talk more about how you can do this later on!

How Can You Support Women During This Month?

There are plenty of ways you can support black mothers during BMHW. I firmly suggest going out to community events and getting involved at the local level. What you do in your community matters! So, whether you decide to volunteer your time to help spread the message of Black Maternal Health Week or you start up your own event for BMHW, participating in this week of advocacy is what really matters.

Another way you can help is by supporting organizations that fund research and education surrounding black maternal health. The more we learn how to prevent pregnancy-related deaths, the more black mothers we can save in the future. I personally suggest donating to Black Mamas Matter Alliance here. I’ve listed some other organizations and resources you can donate to in the final section of this post.

How Does Racism Impact Pregnancy?

Racism has a big impact on pregnancy outcomes. In fact, if we look at the statistics, black women are around three to four times more likely to die while giving birth when compared to white women. That’s a scary thought. There are some outside factors to consider like, access to healthcare, level of education, existing health issues, and level of poverty.

However, all these factors, along with the outcomes of black pregnancies can be connected back to structural racism and inherent bias. Black women continue to be viewed differently in the healthcare system and society as a whole. This bias has negatively impacted the opportunities that are available to black mothers.

This includes equal access to healthcare, reproductive rights, emotional support and even economic opportunities that would enable black mothers to get better medical care for themselves and their children. Because women of color have been systematically neglected and overlooked in hospitals and other medical settings, it's crucial that we take steps to change this reality. Black mothers deserve the same level of care as any other mother!

How Can We Play a Role in Preventing Pregnancy-Related Deaths?

I’ve talked about what Black Maternal Health Week is and how you can participate in it, but how can you help prevent pregnancy-related deaths and keep yourself or the women in your life safe?

For families and black women that are pregnant, look out for early warning signs. If you notice that something is wrong, I strongly urge you to talk to your healthcare provider. Any extreme symptoms should be dealt with right away, otherwise, you are risking your health and life. This could include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Swelling in the face and hands

  • Inability to move or get out of bed

  • Heavy bleeding or discharge

In addition to monitoring your health and keeping a record of doctor visits and checkups, you also want to educate yourself and learn more about maternal health. This could help prevent serious pregnancy complications and help you better advocate for yourself or a family member during their pregnancy. I’ll be talking about learning resources in the next section of the post.

For people involved with the medical community, I suggest taking the time to reflect. Again, we are often overlooked in the healthcare system, especially in hospitals. If you are a doctor or medical professional make sure you are listening to black women and their health concerns. This way we can prevent pregnancy deaths and complications.

Best Resources For Black Maternal Health Week

There are some great resources available for Black Maternal Health Week. Whether you want to learn more about BMHW, or you are a black mother who wants to educate and protect yourself, I’ve found some amazing websites and organizations that should help you. I’ll list some of the best resources for you below.

Each of these organizations is dedicated to black maternal health and has spent years educating and advocating for black mothers. One of the best preventative measures is educating yourself and your community. You can start by visiting these websites:

Final Thoughts on Black Maternal Health Week

Black Maternal Health Week is something that everyone in this country needs to be thinking about. Many people take their health and well-being during pregnancy for granted, but the truth is that not everyone has the chance to safely give birth.

This is especially true for black mothers who face some of the highest rates of maternal mortality and maternal complications in the country. I’ve gone over a little about how you can help support black women and the black community during BMHW.

Don’t be afraid to learn more and educate yourself about black maternal health. I highly recommend looking at some of the other sources I listed above to get more information and spread the message about black maternal health. No one should have to feel afraid when they are pregnant or worry that they won’t be heard and cared for in a medical setting. Advocate for yourself even if no one else will. This can really be the difference between life or death. That’s why I firmly believe in the importance of BMHW!

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