April 11-17 is Black Maternal Health week, which is a week where Black mothers are celebrated and the awareness of disparities between Black women and others is brought to light. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed that Black women are “three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause” than white women. Factors that contribute to Black women dying at a higher rate have to do with racial disparities and biases, quality of healthcare, and chronic conditions.
In a proclamation for Black Maternal Health week, President Joe Biden wrote, “I call upon all Americans to raise awareness of the state of Black maternal health in the United States by understanding the consequences of systemic discrimination, recognizing the scope of this problem, and the need for urgent solutions, amplifying the voices and experiences of Black women, families, and communities, and committing to building a world in which Black women do not have to fear for their safety, their well-being, their dignity, or their lives before, during, and after pregnancy.”
While Black maternal health is now getting national attention, there are some Black women warriors who have been advocating for the health of our sistas from day one. Here are four women who are working to improve Black maternal health.
Shanicia Boswell is the founder of the Black Moms blog, the Self Care Retreat, and the author of Oh Sis! You’re Pregnant. The mother of one has been open about her experiences becoming a first-time mom and she uses her blog to highlight other mothers as well as share tips and advice on topics such as how Black women can advocate for themselves at the doctor’s office.
Brandi Sellerz is a doula, author, and co-founder of Moms in Color, which, according to their Instagram page is a “collective created for Black moms to celebrate diversity and motherhood.” Moms in Color’s Instagram shows positive images of Black women immersed in motherhood and also provides virtual breastfeeding classes, baby showers, and more for those who need it.
U.S. Rep Cori Bush
U.S. Rep Cori Bush has been advocating for Black women to have quality healthcare after nearly losing two children after her doctor ignored her concerns. The Missouri representative shared the emotional story during a May 2021 hearing about how racism affects Black expectant mothers. “Every day, Black women are subjected to harsh and racist treatment during pregnancy and childbirth,” she said. “Every day, Black women die because the system denies our humanity.”
Latham Thomas is a doula and the creator of Mama Glow, which offers doula training and education about maternity health. She also founded Mama Glow foundation where she has partnered with other brands such as Carol’s Daughter to provide grants for anyone interested in becoming a doula. Through her platform, the mother of one has spoken with major key players such as Vice President Kamala Harris’ inaugural White House Maternal Health Day of Action Summit where she shed light on the Black maternal health crisis.
Congresswoman Alma Adams
As North Carolina’s 12th congressional district representative, Congresswoman Alma Adams has fought to bring awareness to the Black maternal health crisis. She is the co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus along with Rep. Lauren Underwood, which launched in 2019 to address maternity mortality rates plaguing the Black community.
Dominique Giselle is a certified holistic doula with her doula service center Flourished.Co, which is located in Miami, FL. Through her doula center, Dominique offers prenatal, labor birth, and postpartum services and she also hosts many events such as yoga classes dedicated to Black moms. She also has a spa and wellness center as well as an online store where she sells baby products.
Sabia Wade calls herself “The Black Doula” and has a podcast with the same name. She founded For the Village Doula Services in the San Diego area specifically for marginalized groups such as Black and brown people, low-income families, and LGBTQIA. Also, as the CEO of Birthing Advocacy Doulas, Sabia provides training for full spectrum doulas and reproductive care workers.
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