According to the Centers for Disease Control, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. Multiple factors contribute to this crisis such as variation in quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias. At a recent BlogHer Health event, Pampers and BlogHer partnered with a panel of experts, medical professionals, and advocates to shed light on the Black Maternal Healthcare crisis, share valuable insights on how to be your own best advocate, and discuss the ways in which we can work towards an equitable future.
Guest speakers included moderator attorney and model Jesyka Harris, licensed midwife, internationally board-certified lactation consultant, childbirth educator, doula trainer Kimberly Durdin, and fertility physician Dr. Cindy Duke. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Black women’s maternal mortality rate at increased by 36 percent. Because it appears the pandemic is here to stay, Jesyka asked Dr. Duke how Black women can improve their own maternal health outcomes and learn to advocate for themselves.
“I started medical school in 2001,” says Dr. Duke. “One of the first lessons they taught us was how disparate the Black maternal mortality numbers were in the United States as compared to their White counterparts. Here we are 21 years later still talking about this and watching it worsen.” Dr. Duke goes on to say that education is the first step in enacting change. “It’s rooted over 100 years in our [healthcare] system…we need to talk about it, we need to acknowledge it, and then we can start fixing it,” Dr. Duke says.
The conversation then shifted to Kimberly who discussed the differences she’s seen since 2020 in how pregnant people plan for their birthing experiences. “What happened with the pandemic is that people started thinking the hospital is for very sick people and ‘I’m pregnant, but I’m not sick so I want to try and stay away from the space,”‘ Kimberly says. “It brought a lot of awareness to people who had never thought of that way of birthing [out of hospital] before.”
The panel then began to discuss the Momnibus bill, which includes 12 individual bills to tackle the Black maternal health crisis. So far, only one bill has been signed into law, which Dr. Duke noted she found extremely frustrating. However despite the pushback, the bill has received, it did do its job of shedding light on the crisis.
“It sparked conversations at the state level,” Dr. Duke says. “It sparked conversations at the corporate medical level, which for the last 50 years, has been in denial about the reality of Black maternal health and women of color in general.” She adds, “A big part of what the Momnibus Bill is doing, is that it’s forcing [medical] leadership to ask themselves, ‘what is it about the structure of what we’ve been creating and perpetuating that is leading to these numbers.'”
Watch the rest of the Black Maternal Health: Steps Towards Equitable Healthcare panel below or the entirety of BlogHer Health here.
This article was created by BlogHer for Pampers.