As Black Maternal Health Week wraps, advocates continue pushing for federal changes

Federal data shows Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.

Monday marked the end of Black Maternal Health Week, a week-long national campaign founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance to raise awareness and community-building about the perspectives and experiences of Black mothers and birthing people.

Federal agencies are also meeting with lawmakers to discuss solutions for improving these outcomes.

The CDC reports more than 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths nationwide are preventable. This is one of the reasons why organizations like MomsRising are pushing for federal changes.

They want Congress to reintroduce and pass the “Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act.

It would provide more funding to help diversify the perinatal workforce.

“The numbers don’t lie. We do better when we have people in the room, or throughout that hospital system, that are looking at the ways that we are specifically being treated and black women are treated in general,” said Monifa Bandele, chief strategy officer at MomsRising. “So, making sure that we’re pushing these pipelines, making sure people have access to doulas and midwives.”

Bandele said they’re also pushing to expand Medicaid coverage up to one year postpartum.

“Because in many states, you can get on Medicaid when you’re pregnant, and then it runs out maybe six weeks after, well now maybe you’re back at work [and] now, maybe if you had a C section, you don’t recognize hemorrhaging like all of these things can happen and can be very tragic,” said Bandele.

MomsRising is also pushing for a federal paid family medical leave program to improve health outcomes.

Advocates say there are also some state level efforts to pass similar Momnibus bills. This includes proposals in North Carolina and New Hampshire. They say New York City passed its own Black Maternal Health bill last summer.

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