For most women pregnancy is a wonderful time full of joy and promise. Most women will have uneventful pregnancies, with the normal challenges of swollen feet, achy backs and strange cravings. Most women will deliver healthy babies after a full-term pregnancy and will leave the birth experience with no lasting negative effects.
But for too many women of color, pregnancy is often a dangerous time. Women of color experience more complications during pregnancy and have more negative outcomes, including infant mortality, than their white peers. Let’s look at the data.
Women of color experience higher rates of maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity.
- While Black women do not have a significantly higher risk of experiencing the medical conditions common to maternal death, they are two to three times as likely as White women to die from them. From Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System, Center for Disease Control, 2016
- Black women are three to four times more likely to die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth than White women, and they are twice as likely to suffer from severe maternal morbidity. From Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System, Center for Disease Control, Dec. 2016 and Black Mamas Matter: A Toolkit for Advancing the Human Right to Safe and Respectful Maternal Care, Center for Reproductive Rights, 2016.
Women of color are less likely to have access to quality, affordable, appropriate, and timely maternal care, placing them at a higher risk for poor maternal health outcomes.
- Despite historically low uninsured levels under the Affordable Care Act, women of color are still more likely than White women to lack health insurance, xv which limits their access to healthcare. From Center for Global Policy Solutions, 2015
- According to the latest National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, Black and Latina women receive lower quality care than White women on 40 percent of measures of overall health care quality. A lack of access to quality care overall correlates with a lack of access to reproductive health care, suggesting that they also experience lower quality reproductive health care. From Agency for Health Care Quality Research, 2014
- Women who receive no prenatal care are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. Thirty-two percent of Black women and 41 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women do not receive adequate prenatal care. From Maternal Mortality in the United States: A Human Rights Failure, 2011
Women of color experience higher rates of infant death and pre-term births.
- Black infants die before one year of life at more than twice the rate of white infants.
- The preterm birth rate for non-Hispanic black women is 1.6 times higher than the preterm birth rate for white women. From Infant Mortality Statistics, National Vital Statistics Report, 2015
What Can You Do?
Join WE CAN to change these numbers and help all Sisters experience all the joys of pregnancy and motherhood!
Sign up to volunteer for the Safe Delivery Campaign. There will be periodic actions you can take, so please make sure we know you want to raise your voice in support of the Safe Delivery Campaign and stay tuned!