A guest post by Sophia Leveque, Health & Human Services Specialist at the Boston Public Library.
Black Maternal Health Week is April 11-17, 2022. This is the fifth year in row of this campaign founded by Black Mamas Matter Alliance. Last year, President Biden officially recognized the initiative and the health disparities Black women face. According to the CDC, Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women are. Many factors drive the health disparities Black women face while pregnant. Factors like health insurance coverage, access to care, and food security. Bigger obstacles like systemic racism and implicit bias also play a role.
The March of Dimes has a yearly report card that grades maternal and infant health outcomes by state. In 2021, Massachusetts scored a B grade. The report noted that preterm birth among Black women is 29% higher than the rate of all other women. Only Vermont scored an A. Pregnancy care is important for all mothers and there is a lot of room for improvement.
Recently, New York City made the news with their “City Wide Doula Initiative.” Doulas can support pregnant people and their families before, during and after childbirth. This program aims to tackle these dire health outcomes for Black mothers.
In Boston, we are home to Maternal Outcomes for Translation Health Equity Research Lab (MOTHER Lab). MOTHER Lab aims to eliminate inequities Black women face through research, advocacy, and mentorship. MOTHER Lab is hosting their 5th Annual Black Maternal Health Conference on Friday, April 8, 2022. Consider registering.
For all who experience pregnancy, there are helpful and trustworthy sources online. The National Institute of Child Health and Development has helpful fact sheets about pregnancy care in English and Spanish. MedlinePlus also has a page on health problems in pregnancy.
BPL is hosting “Make Your Own Health Care Proxy and Personal Directive” on April 13, 2022. In the webinar, participants will be guided in a simple step-by-step process to complete a MA Health Care Proxy and Personal Directive. These documents are essential to ensuring you get the medical care you want. The health care proxy tells doctors who can make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so. A personal directive is a guide of what medical care you want if you are unable to make decisions. Both of these documents are essential to having control of your own medical care in the event of an emergency.
For more events about Black Maternal Health Week, please consider some in the month of April highlighted by the National Library of Medicine.
To learn more about Black motherhood, doulas, and racism, please see the list of nonfiction books below.