BookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxFilledCheckBoxCircleBumpCheckedFilledMedical

How One Dad Is Fighting for Black Maternal Health Reform

Omari Maynard shares his story of loss and his journey forward to advocate for change in the healthcare system.
save article
profile picture of Wyndi Kappes
By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published February 24, 2023
close up of father holding child's hand
Image: pixelheadphoto digitalskillet | Shutterstock

Omari Maynard wears many of the same hats all parents do. He’s a professional, a father of two, a loving family member and a loyal friend. But beneath these hats also lies a man who is a passionate advocate for change and a grieving partner who has suffered an unspeakable loss.

In 2019, Maynard lost his partner, Shamony Gibson, to a pulmonary embolism 13 days after she gave birth to their second child. Gibson’s symptoms were ignored by medical professionals and she was turned away twice before going into cardiac arrest at just 30 years old.

Amid the heartache and pain of Gibson’s death, Maynard decided to take action. He established the ARIAH Foundation, which aims to support people impacted by systemic racism in the US maternal healthcare system and also started a support group for Black men who have lost partners to the maternal mortality crisis.

Recently he talked with TODAY about what others can do to help lower the US maternal mortality rate and take better care of Black, brown and indigenous women.

“Our community needs to know,” Maynard told the outlet. “They need to know that there are options, there is support, and that when they’re going into a hospital, they don’t have to do it alone.”

The US has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country, and Black women are nearly three times more likely to die from pregnancy-and birth-related complications than white women. In New York City, Black women are eight times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.

Maynard is doing everything he can to honor the mother of his children and raise awareness with his art and with his actions. “A week went by after (Shamony passed), and I started just painting,” he explained. “I was able to really process what I was going through, and thankfully it wasn’t all cerebral — it was more spiritual.”

Maynard’s art has been featured in several galleries and museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art. He also created a celebration of life for Shamony, called “Aftershock,” which was later documented in a film of the same name.

Maynard is hopeful that change is possible, and he believes that everyone has a role to play in making that change happen. “It’s a fight,” Maynard said. "The army has been created. Now it’s really just about: How can we support each other and be more empathetic? Once that process starts, we can talk about steering and turning the ship.”

“We need as many people to scream as loud as possible,” he said. “We need people to show up in the streets, we need people to vote, we need people to educate themselves, we need people to use their platforms to speak about these issues.”

If you are looking to join the fight for better maternal healthcare you can learn more about the ARIAH Fondation and donate here.

save article
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

best postpartum pads and underwear
7 Best Postpartum Pads, Tested by a Mom of a Newborn
By Jennifer Wirth
pregnant woman sitting on couch at home
Over $100 Million in Funding for Maternal Health Signed Into Law
By Wyndi Kappes
Advertisement
mom holding baby with skin-to-skin contact
7 Ways to Prepare for the Reality of the Fourth Trimester
By Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN
ADVERTISEMENT
kate middleton announces cancer diagnosis march 2024
How Kate Middleton Discussed Her Cancer Diagnosis With Her Kids
By Wyndi Kappes
jessica pettway dead at 36 from cervical cancer
Momfluencer Jessica Pettway Dies of Cervical Cancer After Misdiagnosis
By Wyndi Kappes
woman with cramping in bed
Postpartum Cramping: What's Normal (and What's Not)
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Bradley Cooper and Lea De Seine Shayk Cooper attend Netflix's "Maestro" Los Angeles Photo Call at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on December 12, 2023 in Los Angeles, California
Bradley Cooper Admits He Intially Struggled to Bond With His Daughter
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
New mom holds her newborn on her chest.
The Fourth Trimester: How Baby Adjusts to Life Outside the Womb
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
sick woman blowing her nose at home
Peak Season for Respiratory Viruses Has Passed, CDC Data Shows
By Wyndi Kappes
Scheana Shay at the "Vanderpump Rules" Season 11 Premiere held at the Hollywood Palladium on January 17, 2024 in Los Angeles, California
Vanderpump Rules’ Scheana Shay Opens Up About Postpartum OCD Diagnosis
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
BOTB Best Postpartum Kits-hero
9 Best Mom-Tested Postpartum Kits for Care and Recovery
By Elizabeth Narins
father hugging breastfeeding mom and newborn baby
Mom Makes Postpartum To-Do List for Partners Who Want to Help
By Wyndi Kappes
elyse myers shares her 4 month old son needs heart surgery
Elyse Myers Reveals Her Son Will Undergo Surgery for Hole in His Heart
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
mom and toddler brushing teeth in bathroom
Can Mom "Pass Cavities on" to Baby? Study Reveals Possible Connection
By Wyndi Kappes
mother wearing postpartum underwear and holding baby
9 Best Postpartum Underwear, According to New Moms
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
little girl sleeping in hospital bed with teddy bear
How the Red Cross Emergency Blood Shortage Could Impact Kids
By Wyndi Kappes
woman turning fan on in bedroom
Why You're Dealing With Postpartum Night Sweats
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
mother holding newborn baby while sitting on couch at home
The Baby Pinks: What to Know About Postpartum Euphoria
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
mother and baby looking at smartphone on the couch at home
Why Does My Baby…Google Releases 2023's Trending Searches
By Wyndi Kappes
father bathing newborn baby in kitchen at home
How Often Should You Bathe a Newborn?
Medically Reviewed by Loretta Cody, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.