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Black Maternal Health Week: 3 Mothers Share Their Testimonies of Impact

Bintou Diarra | Editorial Lead | MS1: Alpert Medical School of Brown University | April 16, 2024

As a maternal health organization, the Mama Glow Foundation is deeply invested in not only the survival, but the thriving of mothers and birthing people. The United States is in the midst of one of its worst maternal health crises in recent history, and we know that the burden is not equal. Black women and birthing people are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, at a baseline. It’s clear that we need solutions, and we need tailored-efforts to honor communities of highest burden.

The observance of Black Maternal Health Week calls on us for the advocacy that this requires. Held annually on April 11-17th, Black Maternal Health Week 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. The official theme for this year was “Our Bodies STILL Belong to Us: Reproductive Justice NOW!”, which addresses the widespread restrictions on abortion care access, the rising cases of criminalization due to pregnancy loss, and the widening gaps of adverse maternal health and birth outcomes in the United States.

As we close Black Maternal Health Week, we wanted to take the time to honor the stories of Black women and birthing people touched by our efforts.

Maya Luisa featured with her two sons and husband

Maya Luisa, featured in the first image, encountered our organization in 2022, when she was 7 months pregnant with her first child. “I think the gift that Latham Thomas and the Mama Glow team provide for us as birthing people is a sense of being seen, and connectedness to community that helps us feel less isolated in the world. Mama Glow definitely recreates a tribal feel that is nurturing for the soul,” she said.

“Black Maternal Health week is a time to celebrate my life and vitality. To be more present to my children and enjoy their essence.”

Anita Powell crowned.

Our second featured mama is Anita Powell, who had several sacred experiences that tie back to our important work at Mama Glow. Her mother, who played a role in her advocacy, is a Mama Glow Doula. “On the day of my birth my mom, who is a nurse with experience in labor and delivery and also took Mama Glow’s Doula training weeks before my pregnancy, was in the room asking questions, reading machines and making sure that I got everything that I needed. The nurses and doctors respected her thoughts and opinions and were supportive of my needs. Pregnancy isn’t easy but with the right supports in place, it is a beautiful process, bumps and all.”

Chante Dyson and her son.

Lastly, Chante Dyson’s testimony beautifully captures the essence of this time. “As a mother of two young Black kings under two, Black Maternal Health Week means everything to me. The advocacy that takes place during this week is beyond necessary to amplify the unique needs of Black birthing women. Too many of us are falling in between the cracks with poor healthcare systems, outdated policies, and unsupportive environments for Black thriving families. Our country has a long way to go to ensure that the full pregnancy journey, including postpartum, is a sacred experience for all Black mothers and families. I am celebrating myself and my journey by both recognizing my strength as a mother to overcome the challenges of birthing and raising Black children in this county, and also by giving myself the gift of a regulated nervous system, ease of mind, and a deep trust in my divine path through a commitment to balanced living as a number one life value.”

When it comes to the impact of intentional effort and action, these beautiful testimonies are the tip of the iceberg. Our partners and other key stakeholders know this. And so, as part of our Love Delivered Initiative, Carol’s Daughter will continue to support our efforts with their annual 75,000 contribution and an additional $32,000 from CVS to fund doula support for Black families in need.

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