Black Maternal Health Week Opens Up Conversation

It’s been 4 years since Black Maternal Health Week was introduced and now it’s being recognized at the White House. Founded by Black Mamas Matter Alliance, the week aims to bring awareness to black maternal health.

“Because its real. Its real and its happening. No matter how much we don’t want to address it. Its happening. Like black mothers are dying at alarming rates,” said City of Salisbury Human Rights Committee’s Jelisa Payton.

While the pandemic has brought many racial issues to light, maternal health advocates say there’s much more that needs to be discussed such as the care for pregnant black women.

It’s no secret, pregnant women already juggle a lot but for black women the obstacles are even greater,  facing limited care and adding a pandemic to an already full plate. “For us to already be in the negative per say. We’re already dealing with these now and you’ve just removed even the small amount of that we did have on our side,” said Owner of Shore Grace Family Wellness Meisha Shockley.

African American women are two to three times more likely than other women to die because of childbirth.

One mental health expert, who’s a mother herself, tells me black mothers have been overlooked and the current policies in place weren’t made for them. “Its scary, its scary when you’re not seen as a human being. You’re not seen as like okay this is a mother, regardless of color,” said Payton.

Lawmakers say that they hear these concerns and their focus is on health care professionals being better trained to serve members of the community from all walks of life. “And now its talked about more openly. So its just not cultural competence, but that its recognizing there are biases that people don’t catch right away,” said Senator Addie Eckardt.

I’m told ultimately, advocates want those mothers to know that you’re not alone and to.. “Take care of you. That’s what’s most important. If you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of your precious bundle of joy,” said Payton.

This year’s theme for Black Maternal Health Week is “Resilience and Liberation.” The White House proclamation will provide $6 billion for the Special Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC).

Categories: National/World