3 areas of focus to support moms-to-be and moms’ physical and mental health

Being a mom may not come with a step-by-step handbook, but shoring three strategic areas helps support holistic Black maternal health.

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Black Maternal Health Week shines a light on the realities and disparities Black expectant mothers often face within the health care system. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

April 11 is the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights and kicks off the annual Black Maternal Health Week campaign led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance​. Amplifying the voices and lived experiences of Black pregnant people, Black Maternal Health Week shines a light on the realities and disparities Black expectant mothers often face within the health care system. However, it is important to note that Black maternal health care encompasses a woman’s physical and mental health during pregnancy, in childbirth and beyond. 

Regardless of how many children one has, parenting is not for the faint of heart. As Rihanna recently teased in a post on Instagram, motherhood can sometimes leave women feeling overwhelmed and physically and emotionally drained. Often forced to act as a caregiver, house manager, chauffeur, emotional safe space, and more, the title “Mommy” can be a heavy weight to carry, especially solo. So, in honor of Black Maternal Health Week, here are three areas in which you can help the women who do it all support their holistic health. 


As the ancient African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Though moms typically excel at juggling the plethora of tasks that come with parenthood, they sometimes need help navigating the often complicated logistics of raising a child. Whether it’s school drop-offs, extracurricular activity pick-ups, or unexpected medical visits, having a network of trusted people to call when in a bind can help alleviate stress. Whether these are friends, family, trusted neighbors, church members, or babysitters, this childcare network should be people they know they can lean on when things get tough. 

If possible, moms should try to identify this group of people before they’re actually needed,  to confirm their willingness to help, and discuss potential compensation or bartering, and budget for it, if necessary. But ideally, friends and family will also be proactive in strategizing and offering support upfront, making those conversations even easier to have.


Sometimes, life will have you feeling like Xscape’s hit song, “Who Can I Run To?” In those moments, it’s helpful to have a list of resources and people one can turn to when in need of not only logistical assistance but also financial support. While it’s easy to advise asking a family member or friend for a quick loan, the truth is that can sometimes be uncomfortable or even impossible, especially when large sums of money are involved. 

    So, instead of potentially putting a strain on personal relationships, be prepared to lean on or suggest community resources designed to help people and families in need. Childcare.gov lists all the national government programs offering financial assistance for families. From providing time-limited cash assistance to needy families to helping cover the costs of home energy bills, Childcare.gov allows users to find federally funded initiatives in their respective states.   

    In addition to government programs, there are numerous community-based resources available to those in need of cash infusions for utility bills, car repairs, etc. Understanding these alternatives may be hard to find on your own; platforms like needhelppayingbills.com, 211.org and findhelp.org offer easy guides on where to look for assistance, allowing parents in need to search for options within their zip code. In addition to these platforms, consider reaching out to churches and local community centers to learn of any initiatives they may have. 

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    Mental health

    “Mental health is fundamental to health — of the mother, the child, and the entire family,” Dr. Katherine Wisner, associate chief of perinatal mental health at Children’s National Hospital, told CNN. “The contribution of mental health conditions to the maternal morbidity and mortality crisis that we have in America is not widely recognized.” 

    Research has found that women are at a higher risk of developing new mental health disorders during and immediately after pregnancy. Amongst the 1 in 5 new moms that experience a maternal mental health condition, Black women are twice as likely as their white counterparts to experience them and half as likely to receive treatment for them, according to the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance. Also referred to as perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD), the phenomenon refers to the mental health struggles women can experience during pregnancy, after giving birth, during the process of adopting or experiencing pregnancy/infant loss. Cited as one of the leading underlying causes of maternal death by the CDC, it is important for mothers to cater to their mental health just as much as their physical health while birthing and raising children. 

    For those with health insurance, take the time to learn what your plan covers and how to access any of their provided mental health resources. 

    If insurance does not cover therapy, the Loveland Therapy Fund offers financial assistance for therapy sessions in an effort to give Black women access to mental health experts and healing. Similarly, the BLHF Mental Wellness Support Program offers registered participants up to five complimentary mental health therapy sessions. 

    The Steve Fund’s Breaking the Silence series offers free online courses designed by mental health experts to give young people of color knowledge and tools to understand and find support for four mental health struggles like anxiety, depression, and more. 

    For those looking for maternal-focused therapy options, Managing Motherhood offers virtual coaching to help moms manage burnout, stress, and self-worth, free consultations, and virtual one-on-one therapy for moms in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland.

    The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) outlines everything from resources for immediate mental health needs to a directory of Black wellness professionals, including therapists, doulas, yoga instructors and more. 

    Haniyah Philogene is a multimedia storyteller and Lifestyle writer for theGrio covering all things culture. With a passion for digital media, she goes above and beyond to find new ways to tell and share stories.