Doctor discusses potential improvements for Black maternal care
Black women are two to three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During the pandemic, the mortality rate of pregnant Black women went up. Part of the problem is doctors failing to recognize the needs and concerns of Black women. Dr. Sharon Thompson discussed the rates and what can be done to ensure Black women have equal access to pre-natal and natal care.
This statistic is not new, as it’s been around for over 60 years, Dr. Thompson explained. Not only this, but maternal mortality is too high for everyone.
“For a country of our wealth and our education, we really want to see numbers in the twos and threes,” Dr. Thompson said, as opposed to the national average in the U.S. which is 32, higher than any other country with similar education levels.
There are many factors contributing to this statistic, according to Dr. Thompson.
“One is the overall health of the U.S. population. Many other countries in Europe have invested in public health infrastructure, healthy food, healthy neighborhoods, places where folks can get out and exercise; we haven’t invested in that in America,” Dr. Thompson said.
Policies and practices within our hospitals can also play a role. Dr. Thompson said we have to look at how certain policies are handled in hospitals and if they are handled evenly across all groups.
“Many Black women report that their complaints aren’t taken seriously, or that their complaints are sort of brushed off, and that’s something we all have to take seriously, both clinicians and families. So when a woman complains, don’t brush it off and say, ‘Oh, you’re just tired,’ or ‘Oh, you’re just worried about this,’ and really take it seriously,” Dr. Thompson said.
Pregnancy is a serious life event, and it puts a woman’s body through a lot, so it’s important to recognize and validate the symptoms that someone is experiencing, added Dr. Thompson.