Black Maternal Health Week falls in the second week of April; appropriately, it takes place during National Minority Health Month. While minorities face disparities across all health systems, Black women and mothers face a disproportionate number of concerns before, during, and after pregnancy.
The 2021 County Health Rankings reported that 9% of babies born in Cambria County were low birth rate, compared to 16% of Black births.
Johnstown had the highest rate of low birth weight babies to Black mothers in the state at 19.5%.
“Building for Liberation Centering Black Mamas, Black Families & Black Systems of Care” is 2022’s Black Maternal Health Week theme. According to Black Mamas Matter Alliance, the theme “reflects BMMA’s work in centering Black women’s scholarship, maternity care work, and advocacy across the full-spectrum of sexual maternal, and reproductive health care, services, programs, and initiatives.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related cause than White women.”
The CDC states that many factors contribute to this disparity:
- Variation in quality healthcare
- Underlying chronic conditions
- Structural racism
- Implicit bias
- Social Determinants of Health
In regard to developed countries, the United States has the worst maternal mortality rate. In 2020, maternal mortality worsened across the board and for Black women the disparity deepened – the maternal mortality rate for Black women in 2020 was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 births, which is 2.9 times the rate for White women at 19.1 deaths per 100,000 births.
As maternal mortality rates increase, particularly in Black women, advocacy becomes increasingly more important. That advocacy can come in the form of recognizing how Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) affect the pregnant population.
A SDOH factor, like transportation, can influence if a pregnant individual is keeping appointments with their doctor. Without stable transportation, critical appointments are missed and proper health for both mom and baby are at risk.
But that is only one SDOH that can affect proper health care. Whether a pregnant woman has a medical home, stable and safe housing, healthy food, and many other factors play a vital role in proper care while pregnant.
The Community Care HUB, an initiative of the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health, is focused on finding individuals who have SDOH needs and assisting the participants with connections to services and resources in order to alleviate some of that stress. With Community Health Workers (CHWs), pregnant women have advocates in their corner to give them the best chance of a healthy pregnancy at all stages and a healthy birth outcome.