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  • Dr. Shari-ann James

Elevating Black Maternal Health: A Call to Action

black maternal health

This week, we join the national conversation to shed light on the critical issues surrounding Black maternal health. It is an opportunity for us to recognize the disparities that persist in maternal health outcomes among Black women and to advocate for meaningful change. The statistics are sobering—Black women are disproportionately affected by maternal mortality and face significant disparities in access to quality healthcare. According to the CDC, in the U.S. Black women are three times more likely to died from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. CDC notes that more than 80% of pregnancy related deaths are preventable. As we acknowledge these disparities, we recognize the urgent need for collective action to ensure equitable maternal health outcomes for all.

Exploring the Disparities

Behind the statistics lie systemic and structural inequities that perpetuate disparities in Black maternal health. Racism, both explicit and implicit, permeates the healthcare system, leading to unequal treatment and outcomes for Black mothers. Socioeconomic factors, such as poverty and lack of access to healthcare services, further compound these disparities. Additionally, the legacy of historical trauma and medical racism continues to impact Black communities, eroding trust in healthcare systems. It is imperative that we confront these root causes head-on and work towards solutions that address the underlying systemic issues.

Taking Action

In the face of these challenges, there is hope. Across the country, advocates, organizations, and policymakers are mobilizing to address disparities in Black maternal health. By supporting initiatives that promote culturally competent care, improve access to prenatal and postpartum services, and address social determinants of health, we can make tangible progress towards achieving maternal health equity. As individuals, we can also play a role by educating ourselves, amplifying the voices of Black mothers and families, and advocating for policy change. Together, let us commit to elevating Black maternal health not just during this week, but every week, until every mother receives the care and support she deserves.

Resources and Further Reading on Black Maternal Health

For those interested in learning more about Black maternal health disparities and how to get involved, we've compiled a list of resources:

For those seeking to deepen their understanding of Black maternal health disparities and contribute to meaningful change, there are several valuable resources available. These organizations are at the forefront of advocacy efforts, working tirelessly to address systemic issues and promote equitable care for Black mothers. Their websites offer a wealth of information, resources, and opportunities for involvement, from policy advocacy to community engagement initiatives.

These books offer invaluable insights and narratives that can inform and inspire readers to become advocates for change in their communities and beyond.

  • Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth by Dana-Ain Davis

  • Pregnant While Black: Advancing Justice for Maternal Health in America by Monique Rainford

  • Battling Over Birth: Black Women and the Maternal Health Care Crisis by by Julia Oparah, Helen Arega, et al.

  • Oh Sis, You’re Pregnant!: The Ultimate Guide to Black Pregnancy & Motherhood by Shanicia Boswell


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