The risk of maternal and child mortality and pregnancy-related complications can be reduced by increasing access to quality care before, during, and after pregnancy. Pregnancy can provide an opportunity to identify existing health risks in women and to prevent future health problems for women and their children, such as diabetes, depression, substance use, and weight gain. Visit OMH’s Black/African American Population Profile to learn more about the disparities affecting the community. Use this page to learn more about famous Black men and women who helped advance the field and for resources on addressing maternal/child health.
Contributions from Black Doctors & Scholars
Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner (1912-2006) created the sanitary belt, a precursor to the sanitary pad, and holds more patents than any other Black woman.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler, M.D. (1831-1895) was a midwife and OBGYN who became the first Black woman to earn a medical degree in 1864.
- Crumpler, R. L. (1883). A Book of Medical Discourses: In Two Parts. Boston, MA: Cashman, Keating, & Co. Printers.
- Klass P. (2021). "To mitigate the afflictions of the human race" - The legacy of Dr. Rebecca Crumpler . The New England Journal of Medicine, 384(13), 1186–1189.
Helen Dickens, M.D. (1909-2001) was a prominent OBGYN and the first Black woman admitted to the American College of Surgeons.
- Freeman, E. W., Rickels, K., Huggins, G. R., Mudd, E. H., Garcia, C. R., & Dickens, H. O. (1980). Adolescent contraceptive use: Comparisons of male and female attitudes and information. American Journal of Public Health, 70(8), 790–797.
- Dickens, H. O., Mudd, E. H., Garcia, C. R., Tomar, K., & Wright, D. (1973). One hundred pregnant adolescents, treatment approaches in a university hospital. American Journal of Public Health, 63(9), 794–800.
- Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA)
- Black Women for Wellness
- The Center for Black Women’s Wellness
- The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness
- CDC's HEAR Her campaign
- Black Maternal Health Caucus Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021
- A New Mom’s Breastfeeding Story (2018), OWH blog by Danielle Cunningham