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Cherise Hamblin: A voice for Black maternal health equity

As a Black woman, obstetrician/gynecologist and mother, Cherise Hamblin, MD, draws upon personal experience to drive her advocacy efforts to improve maternal health outcomes for Black women. In a new Voices of UMass Chan podcast episode, Dr. Hamblin, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology, sheds light on the critical issue of Black maternal health and the significance of Black Maternal Health Week, April 11–17, at UMass Chan Medical School.

Hamblin is passionate about improving the environment of Black maternal health in the United States. Black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than their white counterparts in the U.S. But Hamblin would rather reflect on the systemic barriers and historical inequities that continue to impact maternal health outcomes than focus on the sobering statistics.

“Racial health disparities or disparate outcomes along racial lines have to do with racism,” she said.

She underscored the importance of recognizing the resilience and agency of Black women while acknowledging the systemic barriers they face in accessing equitable health care.

“Black women are not broken . . . the system is wrong, the system is broken,” she said.

Hamblin joined UMass Chan in January to work alongside Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, MD, executive director of the UMass Chan Collaborative in Health Equity and professor of obstetrics & gynecology and population & quantitative health sciences.

During the week of April 11 to 17, UMass Chan will welcome the community to attend a series of events during Black Maternal Health Week on campus in Worcester. It’s an annual observance in the U.S. focused on raising awareness, activism and community building related to maternal health disparities that disproportionately impact Black mothers. From distinguished lectures to a community baby shower, these events aim to amplify the voices and experiences of Black mothers and pregnant people while providing resources and support.

Hamblin is enthusiastic about another part of her new role. She is medical director of the new Doula Program at UMass Memorial Medical Center. Having access to a trained, nonclinical advocate during labor and delivery—and for prenatal and postpartum support—can improve equity and outcomes, Hamblin said in the podcast.

To learn more about the Doula Program and Black Maternal Health Week at UMass Chan from Hamblin, listen to the full Voices of UMass Chan podcast episode at