It’s sad but true: Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women. The fact of the matter is, more attention needs to be brought to improving black maternal health. “I encourage black mothers to reclaim their pregnancy journey through childbirth education and assembling a strong birth team. Hire a doula for additional support to prepare for all possible outcomes. The more knowledge we have, the more we can navigate the business of birth,” explains Keesha Hernandez, a certified Birth Doula.
Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women.
There are several factors that go into the disparities that black women face which include:
- A proper support system
- Access to educational resources
- Structural racism
- Underlying chronic health conditions
In addition to these factors is the variation in healthcare – according to the National Center of Biotechnology (NCBI), there are studies that show that the quality of healthcare, from preconception through postpartum care, is a major factor in improving fatal outcomes for racial and ethnic minority women.
So what can be done to help reduce the maternal health disparities? Below are a few steps you can take.
Create a supportive environment and team
A supportive team can consist of your partner, midwife, doula, OB, family, and/or friends. Depending on your budget, postpartum support is also worth considering. This type of support usually consists of a lactation consultant, mental health professional, and/or postpartum doula. Hernandez says “Choose a birth team that supports your birth preferences. Reflect on who you allow into your space during this time. Do the healing work to release fears and anxiety now so it’s not brought into your birthing space. Create a lifestyle that nourishes your mind, body, and spirit.”
There are several organizations that are working towards saving the lives of black mothers. Here are a few:
- Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA).
- The Shades of Blue Project.
- The Black Maternal Health Caucus.
- Mama Glow.
Use your voice
Keesha says when dealing with difficult doctors, remember that this is your birth. “You deserve to have your voice heard when it comes to all decisions regarding your body and your baby. Shift power dynamics back to person-centered care by communicating your preferences early and requiring answers to your questions. Ask your provider about the benefits, risks, and alternatives for all procedures. This will be great practice to strengthen your voice and intuition for the birthing process. If you are not able to make it work with your provider, feel free to switch providers, if possible,” she further explains.
Pregnancy is already a very hard journey, we all deserve the opportunity for healthy and supportive experience.