“We developed this network and decided that it should be formalized in 2016,” says Aina. “Designed or organized to focus research and advocacy for, for and by black women and individuals in the reproductive justice community. “This was the best way to fully understand what communities needed in their reproductive journeys to feel supported, safe and listened to.”
During their speech, Aina broke down four areas of advocacy and organization that BMMA uses to support black births and reduce maternal mortality statistics.
Four ways BMMA works to change the effects of a black mother’s health
1. Support for policy change
“To address the crisis of black maternal mortality, we need a policy change at the local level to address how access to reproductive care is accessible,” says Aina. Policy changes at the federal, state and local levels are extremely important for communities affected by maternal mortality.
For example, BMMA supports an initiative to support and expand black midwifery networks in Georgia. A 2022 update reported that, in Georgia, black, non-Hispanic women were 2.3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white, non-Hispanic women. There is a long-standing practice of black obstetrics that promotes safe, healthy childbirth practices. To that end, the BMMA is currently calling on Georgian lawmakers to pass community law on Georgia midwives in order to extend maternity leave licenses and support Black Midwives in the state.
“BMMA supports policy change because we need funds to raise the necessary resources for community-based resources and organizations that can provide services such as doula care, childcare, obstetrics, education, support, escort and more, “he says. Aina, adding that the best change is happening locally.
2. Cultivation of research
Another integral part of BMMA’s work is promoting and supporting research. “We are trying to improve reproductive justice and black feminism in research,” says Aina. “It simply came to our notice then huge gap between social services and public health research and what black women want and need in their reproductive care or travel trips ”.
Using black feminism as a lens, Aina shares that the organization can push research to explore the needs and experiences of Black doulas and childbirth workers, as well as the experiences of people in rural communities.
BMMA achieves this by supporting black women and non-binary professionals doing existing research, says Aina. In addition, Aina explains that the BMMA also devotes a lot of time to supporting data collection to have evidence that the government needs to allocate resources to these communities. All this awareness is often and repeatedly ignored by research, he explains.
3. Enhancing holistic maternity care
“Our biggest task is to enhance holistic maternity care,” says Aina. Because hospital systems and medical arrangements can be unsupportive and dangerous for blacks during their reproductive journeys — Aina explains that broadening the definition of perinatal care is really important.
This is like expanding the knowledge of what community maternity care might look like beyond a hospital or practice. It may include doulas, midwives, therapists, counselors and community training centers offering prenatal care courses, he explains. It also includes breastfeeding counselors, postpartum doulas, access to abortions and educators who can teach people how to get insurance coverage for these services.
4. Shift of cultural understanding
“It’s important for us to empower black women leaders who are educating community members about this so that we can change the cultural understanding of what childbirth might look like, which can then help black moms to “They have healthy, happy, safe pregnancies and reproductive travels,” says Aina. .
“We want these broader and larger systems and structures to hear us and what we need,” says Aina. “We do this by ensuring that we see ourselves reflected in work at all levels of research, defense, community work, healthcare and education.”
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