At the end of August, PPCWNY’s Public Affairs and Education and Outreach Departments joined Black Health, Inc. at their inaugural Black Maternal Health Summit in Syracuse. The Black Maternal Health Summit brought together nonprofit professionals, health care providers, leaders, and members of the community to share with and learn from each other.
The disparate maternal health outcomes experienced by Black women, trans people, and nonbinary people in the United States are completely unacceptable. Throughout every stage of reproduction – preconception, pregnancy, labor and delivery, parenting and interconception – Black women, trans people, and nonbinary people experience dire outcomes on a massive scale.
Unfortunately, minimal research has been done on the health outcomes around pregnancy, labor, and delivery of trans and nonbinary people – but trends depict worse health outcomes for people of marginalized gender and people of color. Studies show that Black women are more likely to suffer from hypertension and postpartum depression. Black women are less likely to receive lactation support  or have consistent health insurance throughout pregnancy. In 2020, the maternal mortality for Black women was three times that of white women. The heightened risk of pregnancy-related death spans income and education levels.
These alarming statistics have several causes, but the root is the same: structural racism. It is past time our community – including allies and advocates of anti-racism, health care providers, and community partners – acknowledge these inequities and act to correct them. Black maternal health means that Black women, trans people, and nonbinary people are cared for and supported by the systems meant to protect their health, not victimized by them.
Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York was grateful for the opportunity to participate in this important event, and sincerely appreciates the incredible people who shared their maternal health stories at the summit. We are also grateful to be in community with the organizations across Syracuse and beyond that made this event possible. In addition to Black Health, Inc., who put forth tireless effort to lead this event, the following organizations provided sponsorship, leadership, creativity, and more:
- ACR Health
- Black Health, Inc.
- Central New York Community Foundation
- The Community Folk Art Center
- Doula 4 A Queen
- Half Hood Half Holistic
- Layla’s Got You and the Allyn Foundation
- Onondaga County Healthy Families Division
- Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center
- Upstate Medical University
- Village Birth International
Angela Aina, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, 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, said, “The solutions are in our communities, and people need to trust Black women, listen to Black women, and invest in Black women.”
To take part in advancing Black maternal health, you can:
- Support local, Black-led organizations like Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center and Half Hood Half Holistic.
- Support organizations working for the reproductive and maternal health of Black women:
- Village Birth International
- Layla’s Got You
- Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for People of Color | Postpartum Support International (PSI)
- In Our Own Voice – National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
- Black Maternal Health Alliance
- National Black Doulas Association®
- Shades of Blue
- Black Mamas Matter Alliance
- Download the IRTH app, which gives communities the opportunity to review their experiences with medical professionals. When communities repeatedly complain about a specific provider, IRTH launches an improvement intervention.
- Engage in activism around campaigns that interrupt health disparities for Black women, trans people, and nonbinary people:
- This campaign from Ancient Song supporting community-based doulas (working toward pay equity for doulas, acknowledgement by government agencies of the important role of doulas, and more).
- Certified Professional Midwifery Licensing Bill: When signed into law, the bill would establish the professional practice of community midwifery; define it as the management in the home, birth center, or community setting, of normal pregnancies, childbirth, and postpartum care, including newborn evaluation, resuscitation, and referral for infants; and set requirements for license and practice. We need supporters to contact the Higher Ed Committee members for both the NYS Assembly and Senate in order to urge/demand the committee members prioritize the bill by placing it on the Floor Calendar during the 2024 Legislative Session!
Hello, my name is [insert your name]. I am a constituent from [insert city and state]. I am writing to ask you to support and prioritize the Certified Professional Midwifery Licensing Act (bill number S310A/A4819A) in the upcoming legislative session. New York is in an ongoing maternity care crisis that disproportionately affects Black and Brown women, trans people, and nonbinary people. Many women desire the option to birth out of the hospital in the safety and comfort of their homes with a licensed provider but there aren’t enough in our communities. Providing a pathway for the licensing of certified professional midwives is an important step in addressing this issue by providing more community-based maternity care options in New York. Mothers and babies are suffering unnecessarily and there is no time to waste! We need all hands on deck to legalize Certified Professional Midwives – they will help save lives and improve outcomes for birthing people in New York.
As a [parent/birthworker/constituent/nurse/doctor], I urge you to prioritize and co-sponsor the Certified Professional Midwifery Bill S310A/A4819A. Black maternal health and birth justice advocates support this bill, and we encourage you to do so too! Thank you!