Rolling Out

Addressing the crisis in Black maternal care

Combating systemic racism in maternal health care for Black women
Photo credit: / PorporLing

The journey to motherhood should be a time of joy and anticipation, but for many Black women in the U.S., this experience is tainted by systemic racism within the health care industry. The alarming maternal mortality rates among Black women reveal a grim reality: despite advancements in health care, racial disparities persist, and the commitment to “first do no harm” is often overlooked.

Understanding the disparities

Black women face a lack of access to quality prenatal care, with socioeconomic status, lack of health insurance, and implicit bias within health care systems contributing to this gap. The CDC reported that Black women had the highest maternal mortality rates in 2021, and stillbirths occurred at more than double the rate of their White and Latinx counterparts.

Key areas of concern:

  • Lack of access to prenatal care and medicine
  • Generally limited access to reproductive health services
  • Environmental racism
  • High ratio of C-sections
  • High ratio of gestational diabetes
  • Criminalization via abortion laws
  • High Ratio of Postpartum Depression

What can be done

Individuals can hold state and national representatives accountable, share stories of medical harm, and file complaints about inadequate care. Strengthening anti-discrimination laws and investing in underserved communities can help combat environmental racism. To prevent gestational diabetes, increasing exercise and eating a healthy diet are recommended. Legal support against coerced C-sections and education on mental health can also make a significant difference.

Empowering Black women

By voting in local and national elections, supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood, and forming support groups, Black women can empower themselves and each other to fight for the health care they deserve.

It is crucial to continue educating and advocating for the health and lives of pregnant Black women, ensuring that the joy of motherhood is not overshadowed by preventable tragedies.

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