Unfortunately, many mothers die during or after childbirth. The Centers for Disease Control report that out of 100,000 live births, 13 white women die, 14 women of other raced die and 44 black women die. WOW! That can be one of us, or a daughter, or a daughter in law or friend.
Rachel Weigel from the University of Minnesota Medical School wrote an article entitled Maternal Mortality in the United States: A Brief History on March 29, 2019. She reported that, “Non Hispanic Black mothers are found to be the most vulnerable to implicit Bias and sociodemographic factors and die at rates 3-4 times that of Non Hispanic white mothers in the U.S.” WOW! That could have been me!
Last week was the second annual national Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) campaign. This campaign is founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance as a week of awareness, activism, and community building. They have joined in on the ranks of professional birth workers and activists to have a deeper conversation as to why so many black moms are dying in childbirth. Check out their web site for more details - https://blackmamasmatter.org/bmhw/.
Another issue around maternal health is maternal mental health. April 29th to May 3rd is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. I had all four of our children overseas with support from the different churches we were a part of as well as homeschool groups. I had our first baby in 1995 and did not realize until 2018 - which was 14 years after my last child - that I suffered severely from postpartum anxiety. I remember talking to the doctor about it with my third child and being dismissed, so I dismissed it - sort of - and carried on stuffing my emotions while mothering.
I remember the day our last child was born. When I looked at her face I knew something was wrong. The picture used for this blog was captured by my husband just moments after her birth. That birth was the first day of the most horrific postpartum experience I have ever experienced. Four months after her birth we moved to Seymour-Johnson, NC and I literally felt like I was going to die from the constant anxiety that only seemed to go away when I was asleep.
Ladies, lets sound the alarm and help bring awareness, activism and help to moms suffering from maternal mental health disorders. Let’s expose the shame and fear attached to it. The World Health Organization reports that, “Worldwide about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily depression. In developing countries this is even higher, i.e. 15.6% during pregnancy and 19.8% after child birth. In severe cases mothers’ suffering might be so severe that they may even commit suicide.”
The above MMH stats can lead to negative affects on the growth and development of the child, thus causing more issues when it is time to start school. MMH is treatable. Learn more, check out this web site - https://www.thebluedotproject.org/mmhweek2019.
Dear sister, hold on to Isaiah 41:10 that says, “Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” Please, please do not suffer alone. You are not alone. Reach out for help. Call the PSI helpline - https://www.postpartum.net/get-help/psi-helpline-english-and-spanish/.