You have to remember that pregnancy does not need to be pathologized. It is not a sickness.Angela Doyinsola Aina
BMMA Executive Director
Groundswell’s Birth Justice Fund addresses the alarming rates of poor infant and maternal health outcomes in communities of color by mobilizing donors and supporting strategies to make midwifery and doula care and training accessible.
Historic trends have compounded in these many months of the Covid-19 pandemic as systemic access and bias issues remain prominent.
Still, many of our grantee partners made great strides as they continue to confront the challenges of delivering healthcare services, hosting convenings, and advancing critical legislation.
An Impact Story: Black Mamas Matter Alliance Shifts Virtual and Makes Policy History
The Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) is a national, Black women-led, cross-sectoral alliance of individuals and organizations that builds power, influences policy, and shifts culture to advance Black maternal health, rights, and justice.
As BMMA Executive Director Angela Doyinsola Aina explains, “First, you have to remember that pregnancy does not need to be pathologized. It is not a sickness.” But for Black women in America, nurturing, whole-person healthcare throughout pregnancy, birth, and post-partum is almost impossible to access given the anti-Black racism that pervades the U.S. healthcare system.
BMMA’s core strategy to combating Black maternal morbidity and infant death had been rooted in convenings and in-person events, including its Black Maternal Health Conference and Training Institute.
When Covid-19 disrupted plans for in-person events, BMMA successfully shifted these trainings and networking events to virtual webinars on topics including Black maternal health and COVID-19, improving Black mamas’ health outcomes through holistic midwifery care, shifting and advancing policy to support Black mamas, and how to center Black mamas in healthcare and in practice.
BMMA has also had success on social media (follow @blackmamasmatter on Instagram), and they, along with partners, hosted local events (mainly virtual) in ten states! BMMA also created an online toolkit to provide ongoing support to partners and individuals.
But, BMMA did not forget its intersections: they also worked with GA partners to make sure Black women went to the polls, providing them with information about where and how to vote safely.
As the organization staffs up and acquires new donors to become an independent 501(c)(3) the organization will continue to confront and introduce policies at the local and national levels that affect racial birth and health disparities.
Several Birth Justice Fund grantees, including the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, collaborated on the introduction of the federal Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act. The introduction of this groundbreaking legislative package marks the first national policy effort of its kind in US History.
Among the many demands included in this comprehensive package are provisions to diversify and expand the maternity workforce, funding for community-based organizations addressing disparities in maternity care, and funding for maternal mortality review committees.