The official theme for Black Maternal Health Week 2023 (#BMHW23) is “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy!” This annual week-long campaign, held from April 11-17th, is founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) to raise awareness, activism, and community-building to amplify the voices, perspectives, and lived experiences of Black mamas and birthing people.
Addressing the Maternal Mortality Crisis
The alarmingly rising maternal mortality rate in the U.S., particularly among Black women, has been further exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. Recent data has shown that neglect in care in hospital systems immediately after labor and delivery has been a growing concern. In response, BMMA continues to highlight and center culturally-congruent practices, with a focus on Black midwifery care and full-spectrum Black-led doula care as sound, evidence-based solutions. These practices and solutions prioritize the true needs, wants, and desires of Black women and birthing people.
Aligning with National Minority Health Month
BMHW is intentionally held during National Minority Health Month and begins on April 11th annually to coincide with the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights, which is marked by dozens of global organizations advocating for the elimination of maternal mortality worldwide. The activities and conversations hosted throughout the week intentionally center the values and traditions of the reproductive and birth justice movements.
Black Maternal Health Week 2023 #BMHW23 Events and Activities
The schedule of events for BMHW23 is packed with insightful dialogue, enlivening events, and opportunities for connections to advance the health and well-being of Black mamas. The week kicks off on April 11th, which is the International Day of Maternal Health and Rights, with a tweetchat to engage in discussions on maternal health. Other events during the week include a virtual rally focused on Black maternal health policy, a day to support the BMH (Black Maternal Health) movement, discussions on BMH data and innovation, a BMH walk in Atlanta, GA, activities to promote BMH in local neighborhoods, and a closing event on April 17th titled “An Ode to Black Mamas Joy.”
About the Black Mamas Matter Alliance
The Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) is a Black women-led cross-sectoral alliance that centers Black mamas and birthing people to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice. BMMA envisions a world where Black mamas have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy. To achieve this vision, BMMA has set goals to change policy, cultivate research, advance care for Black mamas, and shift culture.
BMMA’s Work and Impact
BMMA’s work is grounded in the human rights, reproductive justice, and birth justice frameworks, and incorporates respectful maternity care tenets. The alliance serves as a national voice and coordinating entity for stakeholders who are advancing maternal health, rights, and justice. BMMA provides technical assistance, training, and capacity building for grassroots organizations, maternity care service providers such as clinicians, midwives, doula networks, and community health workers, academia, and the public health industry. The alliance fosters connections and collaborations between mainstream entities and Black women-led initiatives, recognizing that maternal mortality and morbidity are global concerns that need to be addressed within the global context.
White House Proclamation on Black Maternal Health Week 2023
One significant step towards addressing Black maternal health disparities has been taken by the White House, which issued a proclamation on Black Maternal Health Week 2023. The proclamation acknowledges that Black women in America are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, and highlights how institutional racism and systemic inequities contribute to this crisis. Black women are often dismissed or ignored in hospitals and other healthcare settings, and face barriers to quality care.