For national Black Maternal Health Week, April 11 - 17, we're highlighting the Black maternal health crisis in Kentucky and beyond, and uplifting the work of Black birth workers in the commonwealth. For more information, visit:

Ana’Neicia Williams is a doctoral student and professor in Spalding University’s School of Social Work, and the founder of Momology, an organization that offers anarray of support and therapeutic services for birthing people, parents, and children. She found her passion in maternal health and believes treating the whole person is necessary. 

When I was 21 years old, I had a high-risk pregnancy. I was on bedrest from my second trimester onward and had to focus totally on my physical health and wellbeing. In order to do that, my independence was stripped from me. I lived at home and had to sign up for assistance just to survive. I had to go back to work just six weeks postpartum—long before my mind or body was ready to work again.  

Looking back, that was one of the hardest times of my life. It was the most isolated I have ever felt. I was alone in my thoughts and feelings, and often retreated to my room where I harbored all that I was holding. I remember my mother sharing with me that every day she would return home, she prayed I was alive because she feared I was in a bad place. While my mom feared for my well-being, I still think she was unaware of how to support me, and I did not have the words or knowledge I have today to address it. At that time, no one was discussing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, not even my providers. It was truly challenging to find joy in my pregnancy.  

Once I connected with the Family Scholar House, an organization that assists with self-sufficiency for single parents through advocacy, education, food and clothing pantries, and other forms of support, things started to change. I was a client there for about a year and half until I felt like I was back on my feet.  

My advocate at Family Scholar House inspired me to pursue a career in social work. In a full circle moment, I interned at Family Scholar House and eventually ended up working there after obtaining my master’s degree and became a Family Advocate.  

In 2020 I founded Momology, a mental health and community care organization that provides individual therapy and support groups around infertility, reproductive justice, peer support for clients with substance use disorder, and helps clients navigate the family court system.  

Momology is founded on the idea that no parent should be left behind, and no parent should have to choose between keeping their job and caring for their child, their family, or themselves. I work with clients every day who struggle to adjust to parenthood emotionally, physically, mentally, and economically.  

In many ways, I’m the poster person for how successful young, single parents can be when you get the basics to care for yourself and your child. Support services for single birthing people and parents work to improve Black maternal and infant health outcomes. But I’m the exception, not the rule, and it shouldn’t be that way. 

We know that Kentucky is at the forefront of the global maternal mortality crisis, and this deadly trend is even worse for people of color, regardless of education level or income. It’s time for Kentuckians and lawmakers to recognize that mothers are the backbone of our society and deserve better, and to focus on ways to improve maternal health outcomes in our state. This includes implicit bias training for healthcare professionals, increasing access to Black-led community-based healthcare providers, creating accountability mechanisms to better understand why Black birthing people die at a higher rate than their white counterparts, centering Black Women’s leadership in addressing Black maternal health, providing mental health support to new mothers, and implementing paid family and medical leave for all employed Kentuckians. 

No Kentuckian experiencing new parenthood should feel as alone as I did. Every Kentuckian experiencing parenthood for the first time should feel celebrated and supported, and I hope Kentuckians and lawmakers will join me in this work.