Black Maternal Health Week helps inform, empower expecting mothers

"The CDC reports that Black women die at two-thirds higher rate than white counterparts," said Nkenge Browner. 

It's an alarming statistic that several years ago sparked a call to action with the creation of Black Maternal Health Week.

The annual event will be April 11th through the 17th. The grassroots organization Mothering Justice is working to keep the focus on this mission.

"To shine a light on the fact that Black maternal and infant mortality rates are disproportionately higher than other communities," said Browner, the director of Mothering Justice. 

The organization believes many African-American woman experience trauma surrounding their pregnancies because they're not being heard in hospital settings.

"Black women's pain and health issues are being ignored, we are sent home too early from the hospital, and we are dying from blood clots from not being listened to," she said. 

As a mother of two boys, Browner found that a support system could help resolve some of the issues confronting  Black women and their pregnancy experience. 

"I had my first son in a hot tub - it was a wonderful experience-  with the support of a doula and midwife," she said.

Keisha Watkins-Dukhie/ Doula

Keisha Watkins-Dukhie / Doula

Mothering Justice is pushing to increase awareness of these birthing advocates so they can provide valuable support

"We have a directory of Black birth workers and we do a Black doula and mama match up," Browner said.

Keisha Watkins-Dukhie says her own negative pregnancy experience motivated her to become a doula.

"I felt completely violated," she said. 

But through her support services, she working to empower the voice of others.

"We are helping them get that power, to make sure they are asking the questions, that they are being heard," Duhkie said. "When they're not heard, we are pushing for the doctors to listen to them." 

To learn more about the program and activities for Black Maternal Health Week go to or