As a black woman, a health professional, and a mom of an angel baby I am confronted with the staggering statistics that face black mothers and infants. However, it is not enough for me to be appalled or fearful. You too need to wonder why black mothers are more likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth, and the first postpartum year at a rate of three times of white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. You need to wonder why black women lose more of their babies through pregnancy loss, with stillbirth rates more than twice the rate of non-Hispanic white women. It’s not enough to only wonder.
You need to:
Act by educating yourself about black maternal health and know that an issue for black moms is an issue for everyone.
Acknowledge that health disparities exist among black moms and babies.
Advocate for black moms and babies by speaking up and being supportive.
Through action, acknowledgment, and advocacy, you will be helping be a part of the solution.
If you are a black woman who is currently pregnant, you should follow the CDC guidelines as it pertains to your care and having your needs met:
- If something does not feel right, contact your healthcare provider. It is best not to wait if you are concerned.
- Seek immediate care if you start to experience urgent maternal warning signs like severe headache, extreme swelling of hands or face, trouble breathing, heavy vaginal bleeding, or discharge.
- Take notes when you have your appointments and share your pregnancy history.
- Have a support system in place among friends and family.
- Manage chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. Black people are also disproportionately impacted by these chronic conditions too.
- Be sure to have a health care provider who you trust and believe has your best at heart. Don’t be afraid to change healthcare providers if your needs are not being met.
Pregnancy After Loss Support honors Black History Month by highlighting the issue of black maternal and infant health to spread awareness and to let black moms know that we are here for you too.
- A Legacy of Trauma: Black Women and the Health Care System
- What I Wish People knew about what Black Women face going through Infertility and Loss
- “Do bad things happen in real life?” Tough Conversations with Our Black Rainbow Babies
- Raising a Rainbow Dipped in Melanin
- Embracing Uncertainty and Finding Joy: My Journey from Loss to Pregnancy as a Black Woman
*A version of this article, “Why the Loss Community Needs to Talk about Black Maternal and Infant Health,” was originally published on February 28, 2022, and updated on February 20, 2023.