Championing Black Maternal Health

Championing Black Maternal Health

At Forge AHEAD, we are committed to confronting the grave health disparities faced by Black mothers with both urgent action and long-term science-based approaches to address these health disparities. We recognize that addressing the health disparities impacting Black mothers is both a matter of public health and of justice and equity. During Black Maternal Health Week, we spotlighted the stark realities and promising interventions through the voices of experts dedicated to making a difference. Here’s how we’re advancing this vital work:

Combating maternal mortality

“Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women,” a troubling statistic that underscores the urgent need for targeted interventions.

Sharon J. Herring, M.D., director of Population Health at Temple University, illuminated the stark disparities in maternal mortality rates during her presentation at the Forge AHEAD February Seminar, She emphasized the necessity for approaches rooted in community engagement: “Our communities need tailored, empathetic solutions that address the real experiences of Black mothers. By engaging directly with these communities, we can start to dismantle the systemic barriers that contribute to these devastating disparities.”

Empowering teen mothers

Addressing the disproportionately high birth rates among Black teens, Abigail Gamble, Ph.D., Forge AHEAD scholar from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, introduced the #BabyLetsMove initiative, leveraging technology to empower pregnant adolescents: “Technology isn’t just a tool; it’s a lifeline that can empower young Black mothers. Through our #BabyLetsMove initiative, we’re turning everyday devices into sources of strength, education, and community.”

Addressing food insecurity head-on

With 1 in 5 Black Americans facing food insecurity—a rate twice that of white households—the impact on maternal health is significant.

Candice Myers, Ph.D., Forge AHEAD scholar at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and her TARGET intervention directly addresses this: “Food insecurity is more than just an empty plate; it’s a complex challenge that pregnant women face, which can have long-term effects on their health and the health of their children. Our TARGET intervention is designed to break this cycle through personalized nutritional and psychological support.”

Shaping policy through nutritional interventions

Camille Schneider-Worthington, Ph.D., Forge AHEAD scholar at the University of Alabama at Birmingham leading a study on the impact of home-delivered meals, discusses a potential policy-changing approach: “By delivering meals directly to expectant mothers, we’re not just nourishing them; we’re testing a model that could reshape how maternal health support is structured, ensuring that no mother has to worry about her next meal during pregnancy.”

Doula support and advocacy

Advocate and doula, Frankie Robertson, founder of The Amandla Group LLC, passionately advocates for comprehensive support systems for Black birthing people, emphasizing the critical role of doulas in maternal health. The FAC Community Engagement Core is proud to partner with Frankie and the Amandla Group on their advocacy work, which exemplifies the power of support and advocacy in transforming care for Black mothers. “Advocacy in maternal health isn’t just about speaking up; it’s about acting and ensuring that Black birthing people have the support they need during one of the most vulnerable times in their life. Through our work, we aim to turn advocacy into actionable change that makes a tangible difference in the lives of mothers,” says Robertson.

These insights from Black Maternal Health Week are calls to action. Forge AHEAD is committed to integrating these lessons and models into our ongoing efforts to improve maternal health outcomes. By supporting innovative research, advocacy, and community-driven solutions, we aim to address the complex factors contributing to health disparities and work towards a future where all mothers have the support they need to thrive.

Engage with us

Your involvement is crucial. Join us in supporting these initiatives, learn more about our work, and help us expand the conversation about maternal health equity. Together, we can create lasting change for Black mothers and their families.