EverThrive Illinois is participating in Black Maternal Health Week, founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance! This week-long campaign runs from April 11 – 17 and was created to amplify the voices of Black birthing people and raise awareness around their experiences. This year’s Black Maternal Health Week theme is “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy.” This directly connects to our values at EverThrive Illinois and our work to ensure everyone has “the access, resources, and health care necessary to create and sustain healthy families on their own terms.”
The CDC recently released a report on Maternal Mortality rates in the United States. Unfortunately, the maternal mortality rates for all races increased from 2020 to 2021, with Black birthing people having higher death rates than their white and Hispanic counterparts. This comes on the heels of a study that found that Black people have worse experiences when it comes to maternal and infant health than white people, regardless of income. In addition, predominantly Black, low-income communities often have ‘maternal care deserts’ or areas where people don’t have easy access to quality health care and resources before, during, and after pregnancy.
This is why Black Maternal Health Week is so important because it raises awareness around the Black Maternal Health crisis that is going on nationwide. Tela Elzy, Community Engagement Coordinator at EverThrive Illinois, said, “As a Black mother of three, Black maternal health is of great importance to me. I believe that every pregnancy is unique, just like every child. My ultimate hope is for every Black birthing person to access the highest quality of centered maternal health care within their community.”
This year, Black Maternal Health Week also recognizes the significance of Black Midwifery and Black-led Doula work as solutions to give Black birthing people better experiences. Because Black people’s pain is often ignored or downplayed due to racism and bias within the health care system, having a doula and midwife that can advocate for their experience can go a long way. In Chicago, a Black midwife-led birth center is in the works on the city’s South Side. This will give the community access to equitable health and wellness care that Black birthing people need and deserve.
EverThrive Illinois also provides a digital resource called The Gathering. It is a community-centered resource specifically for Black birthing people and their families to use before, during, and after pregnancy. This week and all year, we want to continue to advocate for and amplify the voices of Black birthing people to create a more equitable system.