HOUSTON (KIAH)- April 11th marked the start of Black Maternal Health Week.

BMHW is a week-long campaign founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance to build awareness, activism, and community-building to amplify the voices, perspectives and lived experiences of Black mothers and birthing people.

This year’s theme for Black Maternal Health Week is “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy!” BMMA officials say: “As we reckon with the upending of Roe v. Wade and the relentless attacks against reproductive rights and bodily autonomy, this year’s theme speaks to our strength, power and resilience, and our unassailable right to live freely, safely, and joyfully.” 

In a 2022 report from The March of Dimes, research showed hospitals that serve Black women were lower-quality as compared to hospitals that have a higher proportion of White women receiving care. These differences between hospitals lead to higher rates of morbidity and mortality for the minority women, especially Black women.

In a proclamation from the White House, President Joe Biden wrote:      Black Maternal Health Week is a reminder that so many families experience pain, neglect, and loss during what should be one of the most joyous times of their lives.      Tackling this crisis begins with understanding how institutional racism drives these high maternal mortality rates.  Studies show that Black women are often dismissed or ignored in hospitals and other health care settings, even as they suffer from severe injuries and pregnancy complications and ask for help.  Systemic inequities are also to blame.  When mothers do not have access to safe and stable housing before and after childbirth, they are at greater risk of falling ill.  When women face barriers traveling to the hospital for prenatal and postpartum checkups, they are less likely to remain healthy.  Air pollution, water pollution, and lead pipes can have dangerous consequences for pregnant women and newborns.  And when families cannot afford nutritious foods, they face worse health outcomes. 

Black Maternal Health Weeks runs from April 11th through April 17th.