Hint Health is a proud sponsor of Black Maternal Health Week 2023 (April 11th - 17th), founded by The Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Inc. or BMMA. Today, April 11th is the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights. We recognize the problematic health disparities and resulting negative health outcomes that Black mothers experience in the United States and are committed to supporting organizations such as BMMA to help alleviate these issues. This year’s theme for Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) is “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy.”
Historically, societal structures and institutions have effectively “policed Black bodies,” restricting access to equitable healthcare, education, employment, housing and political office. Although decades of civil rights and social justice activism alongside policy changes have made improvements in overall opportunities and specifically access to care, there are still significant gaps to fill in order to realize equitable outcomes for people of the African diaspora in America. According to the CDC, the maternal mortality rate of Black women in 2020 was 3 times more than White women. Infant mortality amongst Black babies is double the overall infant mortality rate in the U.S., 10.6 vs. 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively.
Beyond maternal and infant mortality, there are serious mental health considerations around Black maternal health as well. Postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are conditions that Black women are not only more likely to experience, but also far less likely to get treated for. If you know someone who may need support, visit Shades of Blue Project and Center for Black Women’s Wellness who are BMMA partners in Maternal Mental Health.
Even when accounting for socioeconomic differences, health conditions, and insurance, Blacks/African Americans receive lower quality care than Whites/Caucasian Americans. Given this, there needs to be a concerted effort to overcome the systemic circumstances that contribute to the subpar care delivery to Blacks/African Americans. The hamster wheel of the insurance-based model, where clinicians are forced to squeeze dozens of patients in a single day with primary care physicians needing 26.7 hours in a day in order to provide adequate care exacerbates this problem because clinicians make snap judgments and don’t have the time to consider and then counter unconscious implicit bias.
As a result, there unfortunately continues to be “growing cases of clear neglect in care in hospital systems immediately after labor and delivery” for Black mothers cites BMMA. Direct primary care as part of a comprehensive culturally informed care team offers hope to Black mothers and mothers-to-be to address gaps in care. BMMA suggests that Black midwifery and doula care are evidence-based solutions to ensure that Black mothers get the adequate care and support they need during pregnancy, labor and postpartum.
Learn more about BMMA and the advocacy work they are doing in partnership with several like-minded organizations here and help amplify Black Maternal Health Week by engaging on their social channels via the links below.