April 14, 2022
A Message From Lamaze President Tanya Cawthorne on Black Maternal Health Week
By: Tanya Cawthorne, LCCE, FACCE | 0 Comments
National Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) is from April 11-17 and I would like to dedicate this month’s Inside Lamaze newsletter to sharing information about this important event and how we as Lamaze members can become more involved. The topic of how we collectively work to promote equitable maternal health and outcomes and make it accessible to underserved communities is one of high importance to Lamaze.
On April 13, 2021, Black Maternal Health Week was officially recognized by the United States White House. April is also recognized in the United States as National Minority Health Month, a month-long initiative to advance health equity across the country on behalf of all racial and ethnic minorities. In addition, the United Nations recognizes April 11 as the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights in recognition of the continued injustices facing Black and brown birthing people globally.
The founder of BMHW, the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA), serves to raise awareness through the fifth anniversary of Black Maternal Health Week this week! The 2022 theme is “Building for Liberation: Centering Black Mamas, Black Families, and Black Systems of Care,” which reflects BMMA’s work in centering Black women’s scholarship, maternity care work, and advocacy across the full spectrum of sexual, maternal and reproductive health care, services, programs and initiatives. Additionally, this year’s theme reflects the critical need for learning about Black feminist and womanist 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.
If you are active on social media, please download BMMA’s excellent toolkit, to gain access to a wide range of graphics and information that you can share this week and throughout the year.
As BMHW is more US-centered, allow me to share some sobering statistics with you from the United States:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications. (Source: CDC)
- In 2020, Black women were most disproportionately affected with a mortality rate of 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 19.1 deaths per 100,000 live births, and 18.2 deaths per 100,000 live births for white and Hispanic women, respectively. (Source: CDC)
- In 2019, the United States had an infant mortality rate of 5.6 per 1,000 live births with a health disparity among Black babies at a rate of 10.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018. (Source: CDC)
- Black women are 3-5 times more likely to have a maternal death than White women in the United States. (Source: AJMC)
- The United States is the only developed country in the world with a rising maternal mortality rate. (Source: The Commonwealth Fund)
The United States spends more on healthcare per capita than any other country — and yet more women are dying around the period of childbirth than any other similarly developed nation. If not sobering enough, it is further estimated that approximately two-thirds of these deaths are preventable, and a thoroughly disproportionate number of these women are Black.
And yet, these US statistics are just one snapshot of what is a global concern. The themes of BMHW should resonate with each of us, no matter where we live. As many of you know, I live in Australia. We too have a dark and shameful history in our treatment of the Indigenous people of Australia. Despite some improvements in recent years, Indigenous mothers and babies continue to experience poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous mothers and babies in some areas. There are complex interactions between maternal and perinatal health outcomes and the determinants of health, including both social determinants and health risk factors.
The United States and Australia are just two examples. Disproportionate birth outcomes and social determinants of health are growing global themes impacting hundreds of countries around the world. Health inequity – especially for people of color — continues to impact countless families worldwide. I strongly believe that we can all play our part in improving birthing outcomes for those in our communities who are most marginalized.
Two of the core competencies of a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator focus on advocacy, both individual advocacy and stakeholder advocacy. April is recognized as Global Volunteer Month and this is the perfect opportunity to get more involved with your local birth and parenting advocacy groups and to volunteer to be a consumer representative at your local hospital. If you teach childbirth classes, consider offering a reduced fee for families who are economically or socially disadvantaged. If you would like to get involved in Lamaze International’s ongoing advocacy efforts, please send us a note!
TagsBlack Maternal Mortality Black Mamas Matter Alliance Black Maternal Health Week Leadership