Bridging the Gap: Helping Black Mothers to achieve Maternal Health


Black Maternal Health Week is April 11-17, 2024.

The Black maternal health crisis in the United States presents a stark reality: Over 1,200 women die annually due to pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, and approximately 60,000 women face severe, life-threatening complications, according to Johns Hopkins University. This crisis disproportionately affects Black mothers, who are three times more likely to die from childbirth-related causes than their non-Hispanic white counterparts, as by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. This discrepancy exists irrespective of socioeconomic status and education level, pointing to deeper, systemic issues at play. Addressing these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach, aimed at dismantling the barriers that prevent Black women from receiving the maternal care they need and deserve.

Understanding the Challenges to High Quality Black Prenatal Care

The disparities in maternal health outcomes for Black women are influenced by a complex interplay of factors, including:

  • Access to Quality Care: Many Black women face difficulties in accessing high-quality prenatal care. This can be due to geographical limitations, lack of insurance, or healthcare providers’ scarcity skilled in culturally competent care.
  • Bias and Discrimination: Racial bias and discrimination in the healthcare system can lead to Black women’s concerns being minimized or dismissed, contributing to delays in diagnosis and treatment.
  • Social Determinants of Health: Factors such as housing, education, and economic stability—all influenced by systemic racism—affect Black women’s health and well-being, impacting their pregnancy and childbirth experiences.
  • Underlying Health Conditions: Higher rates of conditions like hypertension and diabetes among Black women can increase pregnancy-related risks, necessitating more comprehensive care.

Strategies for Support and Advocacy of Black Maternal Health

Addressing the maternal health disparities facing Black mothers requires targeted strategies that involve individuals, communities, healthcare providers, and policymakers.

  • Improving Access to Care: Expanding healthcare coverage, increasing the availability of birthing centers in underserved areas, and providing transportation to medical appointments can help ensure that Black mothers receive the prenatal care they need.
  • Culturally Competent Healthcare: Training healthcare professionals in cultural competency and implicit bias can improve the quality of care for Black mothers. Recruiting and supporting Black healthcare providers can also create more inclusive and understanding healthcare environments.
  • Community-Based Support: Doula and midwife services, particularly those provided by Black doulas, can offer valuable support to Black mothers. These services can help navigate the healthcare system, advocate for patients’ needs, and provide emotional and physical support.
  • Addressing Social Determinants: Efforts to improve housing, education, and economic opportunities for Black families can have a positive impact on maternal health outcomes. Community programs and policies that target these areas can help alleviate some of the stressors that contribute to health disparities.
  • Policy Reform: Advocacy for policy changes at the local, state, and federal levels is crucial. Policies that ensure equitable healthcare access, protect maternal health, and address systemic racism in the healthcare system can create lasting change.

Implementing these targeted strategies to improve access for Black mothers to quality care, address social determinants of health, and combat bias and discrimination in healthcare will begin to bridge the gap in Black maternal health outcomes. Supporting Black mothers in getting the care they need is not only a matter of health equity but a critical step toward justice and equality for all.


Learn how you can advocate for Black Maternal Health this year!


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