Race, Birth & Death: The Maternal Reality

Here’s the unacceptable reality: we are existing within a deeply flawed and broken system that has resulted in the shocking statistic that black women are, on average, 243% more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related or childbirth-related causes.

We were honored to speak with Latham Thomas, founder of Mama Glow, during a recent IG Live...check out the unmissable video below! She offers insight on the disparities in maternal healthcare (and wellness care in general) in America, what structural and systemic barriers exist to perpetuate those disparities, and how we as women and mamas need to tear down the broken systems, advocate and educate, check our own privilege, hold policymakers and care providers accountable, and help each other “mother ourselves first.” 

Mama Pro-Tip → Latham suggests we reframe the context of the crisis and talk about it from a place of empowerment, joy, hope, and the reclaiming of ancestral traditions rather than negatively framing it as black maternal mortality. In addition to a wealth of information about ways we can bring about change, she also talks about practical things pregnant or TTC women can do now to create safe spaces and communities of sisterhood and support. 

Additional Resources

A Life-or-Death Crisis for Black Mothers - from “The Daily” New York Times podcast, Linda Villarosa talks about the disparities in maternal healthcare being directly linked to the experience of being a black woman in America

Lost Mothers - this piece from ProPublica digs deep into the issues and causes, and discusses the overarching impact of toxic chronic stress on generations of black people in this country

MamaGlow - Latham Thomas’ maternity lifestyle brand and home of her doula immersion education program

About Latham Thomas

Named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100, Latham supports women in embracing optimal wellness and spiritual growth as a pathway to empowerment. Latham is leading a revolution in radical self-care, guiding women everywhere to “mother themselves first”. A celebrity doula and maternal wellness maven, Latham is the founder of Mama Glow, a global women’s health and education brand serving women along the childbearing continuum. She is a fierce advocate for birth equity and works to bridge policy gaps in maternal health. She’s co-founder of The Continuum Conference, a gathering of 300+ women centering the experience of fertility, pregnancy and new motherhood. Latham is a graduate of Columbia University and author of book two best-selling books; Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living And Crowning The Queen Within and Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy. 

A gifted and soulful mindfulness practitioner, Latham leads mass meditations for large audiences including: MoMA, TED Women and with WME Together Live. She led the largest mass meditation at the highest point in the Western Hemisphere- at the top of 1 World Trade. Latham released her first meditation album with Sounds True, BEDITATIONS: Guided Meditations for Rest and Renewal.

Cultivating her wellness practice over nearly a decade she has served as a doula and lifestyle guru for celebrity clients including: Alicia Keys,  Anne Hathaway, Ashley Graham, DJ Khaled, Rebecca Minkoff, Doutzen Kroes, Tamera Mowry, Gabrielle Union, Debra Lee, Venus Williams, Adrienne Bosh and more. She has been featured in the New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Vogue, The Breakfast Club, Fast Company, Wall Street Journal Magazine, FORBES, SELF, Essence and more. She is the proud mother of 16 year old DJ prodigy, producer and entrepreneur, DJ Fulano.

About Mama Glow 

Mama Glow is New York's premiere maternity lifestyle brand committed to supporting women along the childbearing continuum. Mama Glow supports women and families during the fertility period, pregnancy, birth as well as during postpartum offering hand-holding through their bespoke doula services. Mama Glow is the first organization of its kind to offer doula support at every reproductive stage including for abortion and loss. Mama Glow also offers a globally recognized doula immersion program, attended by women from all corners of the USA and 6 continents. With training hubs in NYC, LA, Miami and Paris, they educate doula-trainees from around the world to become the next generation of birth workers that will transform the modern health care system for women and babies. They are the fastest growing doula program in the nation. They operate a center called Circle By Mama Glow, in Williamsburg Brooklyn where women enroll in doula immersions, workshops and events focused on women’s health, personal growth, and self-care. Having cultivated partnerships with some of the nation's leading health organizations, Mama Glow is deeply committed to education, advocacy and impact.  

The Continuum Conference 

The Continuum Conference is an intergenerational and intersectional gathering for women to evoke, embody, and amplify what it means to be a woman at various phases of life. Hosted, in partnership with the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg Brooklyn on November 3rd, 2019, The Continuum elevated and elucidated the conversation around fertility, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, menstruation, abortion and loss and everything in between. We had over 40+ speakers lined up with 9 panels and 2 keynotes and 4 TED Talks along with incredible activations all day long. Our morning keynote was: Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens decorated historian, scholar, and award-winning author. Her book: Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology reveals the deeply woven fiber between slavery and the birth of American gynecology and our afternoon Keynote was Abby Epstein screening her film and a conversation - The Business of Birth Control. Laurene Powell Jobs’s production company Concordia Studios filmed the day for a multi-year documentary that focuses on birth disparities and the maternal health crisis and how it affects the black community. The Continuum Conference is an invitation for everyone to attend and be a part of solution and action oriented panels addressing policy gaps, innovation, healing and systemic change along the reproductive continuum. 

Image via Mama Glow

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