Here at Belly Bandit HQ, we’ve always prioritized the health and wellness of moms and moms-to-be. But, over these past few months, we’ve had to take a step back and listen, as longstanding and appalling racial and social inequities in maternal care have been brought to the forefront of today’s social discourse. We know that we have not done enough to address these issues as a company and are working to change that. The first step is educating ourselves and, in turn, our Belly Bandit community.
What we’ve learned has been painful and alarming. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “black women across the country are 320 percent more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.” Yes, you read that correctly! In fact, in some parts of the country, black babies are almost four times as likely as white babies to die before their first birthday. According to a recent article in Politico, “These woeful statistics cut across economic and educational lines, as pregnant black women with a college degree die at five times the rate of their white counterparts.” These are complex issues, and experts point to “the stress of living in a society that discriminates against people of color—from a lack of diversity in the medical profession to implicit bias in the way providers treat patients.”
In 2017, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said maternal health disparities “cannot be reversed without addressing racial bias,” adding that “structural and institutional racism contribute to and exacerbate these biases.” But these shocking statistics don’t tell the whole story. Because these are just numbers, we need to always keep at the forefront of our minds that these women have faces, names, husbands, partners, and families. We can’t get lost in numbers and forget the woman and children behind the startling stats.
While awareness of this health crisis has grown, both solutions and accessibility to solutions are still challenging to come by. There clearly needs to be an in-depth look and measurable action towards reversing these statistics and making access to quality healthcare easier. One organization working to address these issues is Black Women for Wellness. This Los Angeles-based non-profit has made it their mission to “increase accessible, appropriate and affordable health services that positively impact the health outcomes for Black women and girls.” One of the ways they intend to do this is through their Black Maternal and Infant Health program. This program focuses on calling attention to the staggering rate of Black maternal and infant mortality and advocates for systemic change to ensure that Black mothers and babies are able to thrive.
Their work is centered around these initiatives:
-To provide every mother with the information, she needs to have a safe and healthy pregnancy, birth experience, and postpartum period
-To promote emotional and mental wellbeing throughout the perinatal experience via pregnancy support groups throughout Los Angeles
-To directly address the impact of racism on health outcomes and hold providers accountable
Belly Bandit is proud to be partnering with this amazing organization through donations, educational programs, and volunteer opportunities. We still have so much to learn and are dedicated to doing that – this is not an issue that will go away quickly. We are committed to a long-term relationship with BWWLA and hope you’ll join us on our mission to increase awareness and encourage change.
If you would like to learn more about what you can do to help or want to donate, please click here.
Artwork courtesy of Shae, at She is this Designs.