Virginia Joins Other States in Observing Black Maternal Health Week

Virginia will recognize Black Maternal Health Week from April 11-17. The General Assembly adopted the resolution during its recent session. Black Maternal Health Week is an annual observance designed to bring awareness to rising cases of adverse maternal and birth outcomes for people of African descent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021, Black women living in the U.S. are three times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes than White women. The report explains that 80 percent of pregnancy related deaths are preventable. Other statistics point to challenges with mental health, breastfeeding, and quality of care.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recognizes the importance of Black Maternal Health Week and supports maternal health related work in a variety of ways. Through Virginia’s Title V funded programs, VDH offers support to community-based organizations with a focus on serving Black women and their families during pregnancy and after delivery. These organizations provide a variety of services such as training doulas, offering families doula care, providing support during the loss of a pregnancy, and connecting families to resources that assist in addressing other social health-related concerns that impact their ability to thrive.

VDH also supports the state’s Maternal Mortality Review Team (MMRT). The MMRT provides an avenue to review the differences in health outcomes for mothers in the Commonwealth and suggests strategies to address them. VDH uses this data to develop work dedicated to improving outcomes for pregnant and birthing families in Virginia, with a focus on reducing the number of deaths of Black mothers.

Black Maternal Health Week falls during National Minority Health Month which is observed every year in April. The month-long observance builds awareness about premature death and illness in racial and ethnic groups, as well as encourages education, early detection, and better control of diseases.