Women’s Health

Motherhood and Finding Parenting Support: A Guide for Black Women

Written by Jessie Kimani

The journey of motherhood for Black women is often challenging. Issues related to historical neglect and systemic inequalities continue to impact how Black mothers navigate parenthood. From lack of parenting resources and mentorship to postpartum depression, the difficulties of being a Black mother cannot be overlooked. However, the strength and resilience of the Black community keep most mothers going despite the unique challenges. In this brief guide, we aim to empower Black moms by offering practical strategies for finding support and emphasizing the importance of self-care.

Black Motherhood Challenges: A History of Disparity

Being a Black mom is hard, especially because you have to navigate certain aspects of parenthood that are tied to anti-Black racism. While all mothers experience some form of stress, Black moms face additional stresses associated with parenting and racism. For instance, Black women often step into the role of breadwinner and will work more than other women. Yet, financial insecurity is common as the wage gap makes it more difficult to afford resources like child care, meal prep help, and therapy. This is also part of the reason why about 78% of Black women report having motherhood burnout.

The historical context of Black mothers paints a stark picture. For years, Black women have faced discrimination and neglect in the healthcare system, which has resulted in limited access to quality care and higher rates of maternal mortality. At the face of this disparity, Black women face challenges in various aspects of motherhood:

  • Mental health: Black mothers’ mental health is a major concern for most people in the Black community. Although postpartum depression disproportionately affects Black women, culturally competent therapy remains scarce. This has resulted in stigma surrounding mental health a major issue in Black women. With the majority of Black women (about 60%) working outside the home, Black moms often worry about the consequences of their employer and economic challenges as they transition into motherhood.
  • Pre-/Postnatal care: Many Black women find it difficult to navigate the already biased medical system. Even with access to the right channels, culturally relevant information on pregnancy and postpartum health is often lacking. The transition to motherhood also comes with additional concerns about childcare and providing the best possible life for the child.
  • Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding rates are relatively low among Black mothers because of inadequate lactation support and societal pressure. Furthermore, the healthcare community has made it harder for Black moms to successfully breastfeed by not helping them breastfeed the first hours after birth, giving out formula samples, and providing in-hospital formula without a medical need. Without Black breastfeeding support, it becomes even harder for Black moms to properly take care of their young ones.
  • Nutrition: Food insecurity among Black communities and lack of education on culturally appropriate prenatal and postpartum diets often affect the mother and child negatively. Nearly 22% of Black people in the US experienced food insecurity in 2022, indicating just how serious this issue has become.
  • Community support: Limited access to parenthood mentorship from experienced Black mothers and cultural isolation create a sense of loneliness and lack of guidance, especially among new mothers. With motherhood challenges like difficulties in breastfeeding occur, you may feel alone and discouraged without knowing where to turn for help.
  • Parent education programs: Many parent education programs lack diversity and cultural sensitivity, failing to address the specific needs and concerns of Black moms and their families. Unfortunately, many Black moms are also not aware of or have no access to parent education programs that focus on Black communities.

Strategies to Overcome Black Motherhood Challenges

Black women face a myriad of challenges as they navigate parenthood, but that should not be a limiting factor to your motherhood journey. Although you may feel that you are facing the challenges alone, building a strong support system can help you overcome most of these challenges. By having the right people in your network and seeking proper support, you can navigate motherhood with ease while advocating for change. Here are some of the key strategies that can help overcome the challenges of being a Black mother:

1.     Connect With Other Black Mothers

Online communities such as Black Mamas Matter Alliance offer invaluable peer support and shared experiences that can help you navigate the challenges of being a Bdlack mother. You may also find local support groups in your areas like the Sistas in Birth and faith-based organizations that have initiatives to support mothers. Other support services you may find helpful include:

  • Irth app – Provides information to remove bias from the birthing experience
  • National Association to Advance Black Birth (NAABB) – Offers guidance to Black families on statistics about Black birth and where to find trusted birthing professionals
  • Mamatoto Village – Supports Black pregnant people from pregnancy to postpartum
  • MommiNation – Builds a supportive and uplifting Black moms’ community
  • Black Supermamas – Offers a supportive online community for Black moms to share their stories
  • Brown Mamas – Supports Black moms and dads in parenting children to become better adults
  • Mocha Moms – Offers support to women of color on their motherhood journey

2.     Find Culturally Competent Healthcare Providers

Finding the right information and accessing culturally competent healthcare providers is a major problem for many Black moms. One of the best places to check is directories such as the National Black Doulas Association that offer detailed information about health professionals. You can also ask for recommendations from friends, family, and other Black mothers.

3.     Make Use of Community Resources

Utilizing community resources will make your motherhood journey easier. The Special Supplemental Nutrition WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Program was formulated to provide support to women in this journey. The program safeguards the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding infants, and children up to the age of 5 years. With this mandate, the program provides nutritional support and food banks for women.

4.     Advocate for Change

Being a Black mom is also an opportunity to advocate for change in society. You can share your own experience with others and drive the conversation for supporting more Black moms. Join organizations like the National Urban League and Black Mamas Matter Alliance to raise awareness about Black motherhood challenges. The organizations also offer a platform to advocate for policy changes that address the unique needs of Black mothers and their families.

The Power of Self-Love

Self-love plays an important role in the motherhood journey. It is a constant reminder that you have to take care of yourself first before you can do the same to others. Prioritizing self-care is not a selfish act. Rather, it is an essential component in creating a sustainable and fulfilling motherhood experience. Here are some tips you to help in taking care of yourself as you navigate the parenthood journey:

  • Prioritize Rest: Motherhood can be tiring, and will often require you to take some rest. Set boundaries and say no to unnecessary demands. This is also a great time to ask for help and delegate some of the tasks.
  • Engage in Activities You Enjoy: You will likely be overwhelmed by the demands of being a mom, especially if this is your first time. So, make time for hobbies or spend time with loved ones. By engaging in activities that bring you joy, you will be better at maintaining emotional and mental well-being.
  • Seek Professional Help When Needed: Black mothers often struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Do not hesitate to seek therapy or join a support group that helps in addressing mental health issues for Black moms.

The journey of Black motherhood is complex and demanding. However, it is also filled with immense love, joy, and resilience. By acknowledging the unique challenges and building a strong support network, you will be able to thrive as a Black mom. Be sure to prioritize self-care and leave a positive impact on others too.

Further Reading:

15 Books About Black Mothers and Motherhood by Black Authors. https://www.badformreview.com/read/chrj

Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases. https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases

How Racism Shapes Black Motherhood in the U.S. https://news.ncsu.edu/2023/09/racism-and-black-motherhood/

Maternal and Child Outcomes Associated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK579792/

Motherhood and Race: Ways to Support Black Breastfeeding Moms. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2020/08/motherhood-and-race-ways-to-support-black-breastfeeding-moms

Promoting equity in breastfeeding through peer counseling: the US Breastfeeding Heritage and Pride program. https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-021-01408-3 Sisters in Birth: Improving Birth Outcomes in Mississippi. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7662160/

About the author

Jessie Kimani

Jess is a dedicated natural hair enthusiast, stylist, and writer. From tips on how to style your curls to product recommendations, she is your go-to source for all things natural hair care. She is passionate about helping women embrace their natural beauty; a firm believer that every woman should feel confident and beautiful in their natural hair.

Leave a Comment