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Groundwork Ohio Recognizes Black Maternal Health Week

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

By: Erin Ryan, Director, Center for Maternal & Young Child Health at Groundwork Ohio

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This week marks the start of the 6th annual Black Maternal Health Week, a week-long campaign founded by Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) held each year from April 11th – 17th. BMMA launched this week of awareness, activism, and community-building as a way to amplify the voices of pregnant Black women and Black moms, bringing visibility to Black-led maternal health initiatives and advancing health equity.

The nationwide reach and engagement of Black Maternal Health Week is crucial in driving forward the work of addressing the Black maternal mortality crisis we are facing as a state and a country and building health equity for Black women. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the already alarming racial disparities in maternal health outcomes that have long existed in this country – bringing an even greater sense of urgency to this issue.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) drew attention to the drastic increase in maternal mortality in the United States – with stark racial disparities persisting for Black women, who faced rates that were 2.6 times higher than white, non-Hispanic women. According to the report, in 2021, there was a 40% increase in maternal mortality, with the number of maternal deaths in the nation rising to 1,205 that year (up from 861 in 2020 and 754 in 2019). Ohio is home to regions experiencing some of the most abysmal maternal mortality rates across our nation, and research shows that a large percentage of these deaths were preventable.

This was a topic of conversation at this week’s launch meeting of the Advisory Council for the Center for Maternal & Young Child Health at Groundwork Ohio. We brought together key maternal and infant health stakeholders, each representing a diverse group of sectors and constituencies, who will help guide the next steps of the Center as we continue to expand our work to support the health and well-being of pregnant women, mothers, babies, and young children.

There is an immense amount of work that needs to be done, from addressing racial discrimination and bias within the health care system to advancing public policy that promotes birth equity – such as Ohio Senate Bill 93, which would allow Medicaid reimbursement for doula services – to listening to the voices and experiences of Black women and families.

Fortunately, in Ohio, there are a number of regional organizations across the state that work to promote maternal and infant health outcomes, many of them Black women-led organizations that bring a sole or primary focus on serving Black women and birthing people. Throughout Black Maternal Health Week, Groundwork will be using our platform to uplift the voices, resources, events, and work of these organizations that are leading in communities to build stronger maternal health outcomes for Black women.

Below, we have highlighted more information about some of these regional groups, as well as a host of resources from Black Mamas Matter Alliance related to BMHW. Be sure to check back in with our blog over the next week for more information and guest features from some of these partners.




Black Mamas Matter Alliance Resources:

  • Social Media Toolkit: Created to assist partners and advocates with amplifying #BMHW23 across your networks and channels. In this toolkit, you'll find key messaging, resources, and shareable graphics for promotion across your digital and social media channels.

  • Black Maternal Health Week Landing Page: Housed on the Black Mamas Matter Alliance’s website, this landing page provides an overview of BMHW and includes resources to amplify the work.


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