Centering Black Mamas: The Right to Thrive and Live

Saturday April 11, 2020 kicks off the week long celebration of Black Maternal Health week, Hosted by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance.

The Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) is a national network of black women-led organizations and multi-disciplinary professionals who work to ensure that all BlackMamas have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy. BMMA honors the work and historical contributions of black women’s leadership within their communities and values the need to amplify this work on a national scale

For anyone questioning why not all mamas? “The term Black Mamas is used” , BMMA Explains, ” to represent the full diversity of our lived
experiences that includes birthing persons (cis women, trans folks, and gender nonconforming individuals) and all people of African descent across the diaspora (Afro-Latinx, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, Black, and African Immigrant). We recognize, celebrate, and support those who care for and mother our families and communities whether they have given birth or not. We stand in solidarity with all Black Mamas.”

Additionally, It is important to recognize that Black Mamas are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience a pregnancy related death than white women, according to CDC.gov.

Appropriately, the theme for BMHW 2020 is Centering Black Mamas. BMMA makes it clear that Centering Black Mamas does not mean ignoring the facts of a dire reality. Instead, Centering Black Mamas, is an opportunity to strategize around how to meaningfully shift the numbers by considering solutions—without fear, blame, or shame. Centering Black Mamas is also an opportunity to recognize the strengths of Black Mamas—their motherhood, scholarship, leadership, and research—and seek to further empower them in all facets of their lives.

Important Facts

Maternal Mortality
● Every year, nearly 700 women die in the U.S. as a result of pregnancy or its
complications. (Source: CDC)
● Black women are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause
than white women. (Source: CDC)
● Black women over the age of 30 are 4 to 5 times more likely to die from a
pregnancy-related cause than white women. (Source: CDC)
● The pregnancy related mortality rate for black women with a college degree or
higher is 5 times that of white women with similar education. (Source: CDC)
Mental Health
● Women of color are more likely to experience postpartum mental illness but are less
likely to receive treatment. (Keefe, Brownstein-Evans, & Rouland Polmateer, 2016)
Breastfeeding
● Breastfeeding initiation rates among black infants (74%) are lower when compared
with white infants (87%). (Source: CDC)
Reproductive Rights/Access to Contraception
● Many black women lack access to quality contraceptive care and counseling.
(Source: Prather et al., 2018)

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