April 11, 2022
Six Action Items YOU Can Take in Support of Black Maternal Health Week
By: Sharon Muza, BS, CD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE | 0 Comments
Black Maternal Health Week is observed annually every April 11 through 17th since 2018. This week of awareness and activism was founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) to bring attention to the increased maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality rates that impact Black birthing people and their babies at significantly higher rates than non-Black families.
The theme of this year’s Black Maternal Health Week is “Building for Liberation: Centering Black Mamas, Black Families and Black Systems of Care.” Black families deserve to have access to Black care teams, and that includes childbirth educators. We know that outcomes are better when a Black parent can receive perinatal care from a Black midwife or doctor. As a childbirth educator, there are several things that you can do to center Black birthing families and help Black perinatal professionals. You can use this checklist to see where you can implement or change how you practice. This is an opportunity to increase your efforts if you already have some of the suggestions below in place.
Provide scholarship opportunities for more Black people to become educators
If you train childbirth educators, make sure your workshop opportunities are known to potential Black educators. Share workshop information with community organizations local to you so that the word gets out and interested people can apply. Provide ample scholarship funding for Black people who may have financial need and want to become educators. If you do not train childbirth educators, consider funding a scholarship (full or partial) to make it financially possible for a Black individual to receive the training elsewhere. Here is a list of Lamaze training programs to contact about making a donation.
Mentor new Black childbirth educators
New educators have a steep learning curve. We all remember what it was like to get started and how easy it was to get overwhelmed. If you are currently teaching classes, open your classroom and invite a Black educator to observe, learn and co-teach with you. Help them to get their feet under them and gain confidence. Share your experiences and professional tips so that they can start off teaching with you in their corner. With your support they can start of strong and have their first few classes be successful and positive.
Purchase books for new Black perinatal professionals
The Doula Book Project is a website where Black childbirth educators (not just doulas!) can register and specify the books they need as they train to become a childbirth educator. Black lactation consultants and certified professional midwives can register too! Consider purchasing a book on the list for someone in your community. If there is no one listed from your area, purchase a book for someone anywhere! Also make sure to let Black educators know about this website so they can get assistance in procuring the books they need.
Make job openings known to the Black educators in your community
When there is a job opening for a childbirth educator in your facility or on your team, make sure that the position announcement is circulated with community organizations and be clear that Black educators are encouraged to apply. Go the extra mile to advertise that position in the Black community and invite current employees to share the news that your team is specifically looking to interview and hire Black educators to serve new families.
Use diverse marketing and class learning materials
Make sure that images, videos and materials used in classes are representative of Black families. If all the learning tools only include references and images of white families, it does not go very far in creating a positive and welcoming learning environment for everyone. Double check that you do not use terminology such as babies “pinking up” when APGAR is assessed as that can look different on skin that has more melanin. How do you talk about how mastitis may look on someone with a very dark skin tone. Do you use respectful language such as “blue spots” when talking about common newborn characteristics. Consider using “exaggerated side-lying or rollover” to describe a common laboring position rather than the more oft used term named after a racist gynecologist from the 1800s. These are just a few examples.
Double check the resources on your website and your handouts
Make sure that your class materials, resource lists and website links contain information and contact info for Black health care providers, doulas, lactation consultants, therapists, naturopaths, chiros, support groups, etc, along with Black childbirth educators for families who prefer to be supported by Black professionals. Make it easy for people to find the help and support they want, need and deserve..
Black Maternal Health Week is April 11-17th and brings awareness to the needs of Black parents and the Black perinatal professionals who support them. But if there is to be true equity, and a leveling of the playing field, what is necessary is a commitment, day in and day out, not just for one week, to train and support Black educators and other perinatal professionals and connect them with Black families. These six action items above are just a few of the many ways that everyone reading this can help. Take action now and make a commitment to supporting Black families and their teams. It will save lives.
TagsChildbirth education Black Maternal Mortality Black Mamas Matter Alliance Black Maternal Health Week Sharon Muza