Black History Month honors the contributions African Americans have made throughout U.S. history and on communities across the country. We take this time to celebrate these great accomplishments, but also to acknowledge and remember that there were many challenges along the way. Today, the fight for equity continues. Many barriers and challenges still exist and they are having a serious impact on the health and well-being of Black Americans—especially Black moms.
Alarming trends in birth outcomes
The U.S. is one of the richest nation on earth, yet moms are dying at the highest rate in the developed world – and the rate continues to grow. This crisis is most severe for Black moms, who are dying from pregnancy related complications at three to four times the rate of white women. Additionally, preterm birth, low birthweight and infant mortality (death) are also affecting Black moms and babies at a higher rate. This means that more Black babies are born too early, have low weight at birth and die before their first birthday than white babies—call these have long-lasting effects on the mental health of these mothers.
Maternal mental health
Many women experience mental health challenges during pregnancy and the postpartum period. When left untreated, these disorders can have serious medical, societal and economic consequences. Postpartum depression (PPD) occurs in about 15 to 20% of new mothers. It is the most underdiagnosed and common pregnancy complication, and affects Black women at much higher rates. There are many reasons this disparity (difference), some of them are:
- Lack of social support
- Limited access to care
- History of past trauma and depression
With a new administration and new Congress, the March of Dimes Government Affairs team has set priorities to guide us through the year as we advocate for policies that improve the health of moms, babies, children and families.
Congress recently introduced twelve bills, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, which aim to improve health outcomes for Black moms. March of Dimes is committed to achieving health equity in the U.S. by demanding that legislators prioritize the health of our nation’s moms and babies. Join us in advocating with and for Black women by contacting your lawmakers today and ask them to cosponsor the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021.
Other ways to advocate for Black women:
- Use this advocate toolkit to learn about maternal mental health challenges facing moms across the U.S. and to help educate legislators and stakeholders in your community.
- Visit marchofdimes.org/blanketchange to learn more about what you can do to help every pregnant woman in America get the care she needs.