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Amid High Mortality Rates Black Women Turn To Midwives

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Celebrating its fifth year, Black Maternal Health Week kicked off Monday with a series of events and conversations raising awareness about health and wellness concerning Black mamas, Black families and Black communities. Led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Black Maternal Health Week is celebrated April 11-17. It falls within April, which is also National Minority Health Month.  

In a video recording, Black Mamas Matter Alliance Co-Founding Executive Director Angela Aina gave an official welcome and put the current moment in the context of the work being done. 

“As we continue to champion the reproductive rights and health equity of all Black birthing people, we hope that our collective efforts will create more transformative change,” Aina said. “For this reason, we’ve chosen to focus this year’s Black Maternal Health Week 2022 theme on building for liberation, centering Black Mamas, Black families and Black systems of care. This theme reflects the critical need for learning about Black feminists and womanists’ approaches in strengthening wellness structures within our communities and across the diaspora as a revolutionary act in the pursuit of liberation and in the global fight to end maternal mortality.”

Premiere leaders of the Black maternal health, rights and justice movement, the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, consists of more than 30 member organizations ranging in scope and geographical location. This year there is a mixture of events happening online as well as in several places around the country. 

Black Mamas Matter Alliance will lead two policy roundtable discussions on Wednesday, April 13, 1-2 p.m. Eastern Time featuring several members of Congress, including Reps. Alma Adams, Lauren Underwood and Ayanna Pressley. 

The group will also host a Twitter chat on Wednesday afternoon, digging more into the week’s theme and fighting for Black maternal health, rights and justice.   

National Birth Equity Collaborative, a member organization in the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, will also host a series of convenings and events, including a panel discussion Thursday, “The Personal is Political,” moderated by yours truly. Register for those events here

NewsOne’s parent company iOne Digital is once again partnering with the National Birth Equity Collaborative. Check out this list of seven Black doulas and midwives for people to get to know during Black Maternal Health week and beyond, curated by Madame Noire.   

“From the criminal legal system to medical apartheid, reproductive injustices, and other forms of state violence, systemic oppression has been mapped across the bodies of Black women since this nation’s inception.” Kirsten West Savali, iOne Digital’s Vice President of Content, said in a statement provided to Madame Noire. “It is critical that Black mothers and Black birthing people are supported, protected, empowered, and cared for with respect. The National Birth Equity Collaborative has been at the forefront of making that world possible, and iOne is honored to once again partner with NBEC for Black Maternal Health Week.” 

When reproductive rights and justice are under attack, having affirmed commitments to prioritizing maternal health is necessary. In a statement on the importance of Black Maternal Health Week, Marcela Howell, CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda highlighted the ongoing disparity between Black women and their white counterparts.  

Black women in the U.S. are three to five times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than their white counterparts, which is both a public health and moral crisis,” Howell said. “Our elected leaders and public health officials must examine the many structural and systemic factors that contribute to poor maternal health outcomes for Black women and birthing people.” 


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