Black Mothers & Pregnant Women Are Struggling In The US

Black women in the United States experience unacceptably poor maternal health outcomes. This sadly includes a disproportionately high rate of death related to pregnancy or childbirth throughout the African-American community. In fact, Black women in the US are three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than women of any other race. Both societal and healthcare related factors contribute to high rates of poor health outcomes and Black maternal mortality in the US. Here, we’ll examine the various risks that Black women face from conception, to birth, and into motherhood. 


Throughout the course of a pregnancy, Black women face a variety of healthcare related disadvantages compared to non-Hispanic or white women. But the reasons for this may not be immediately obvious because Black women’s heightened risk of pregnancy-related death spans income and education levels. While Black women are at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure and fibroids during pregnancy, the predominant issue comes down to medical equity and access to quality care. Black mothers also face medical racism and clinical research historically has excluded Black women. 


These risks and complications extend from pregnancy to childbirth and motherhood. A recent study shows that these Black maternal morbidity disparities were concentrated among just a few causes of death. These include postpartum cardiomyopathy, preeclampsia and eclampsia, causing Black maternal mortality rates to be five times those of non-Hispanic women. The study also found that pregnant and postpartum Black women were over two times more likely than non-Hispanic women to die of hemorrhage or embolism. 


These types of maternal health disparities don’t end with Black mothers. These health risks also often extend to the baby before and after it has been born. The infant mortality rate of Black babies in 2018 was 10.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to a rate of 4.6 white babies per 1,000 live births. Once again, the infant mortality rate among Black families is still significantly higher than non-Hispanic families across income and education levels. 

These alarming statistics should not be the reality for millions of Black women and children living in the United States. Issues involving health equity and improving access to reliable and unbiased healthcare is of the utmost importance when it comes to decreasing the Black maternal morbidity rates in this country. 

While many of these possible solutions require upper-level systemic changes in American healthcare, there are quite a few things that everyday people can do to help Black mothers and pregnant women. One of the most important things you can do to help pregnant women in need is diaper assistance. In fact, a 2013 study showed that diaper need is often more stressful on new mothers than food insecurity. 

NDBN supports a national network of independent basic needs banks that supply communities with diapers, period products, and other essentials not covered by most public assistance programs. Data shows that 25% of the leaders of NDBN member organizations identify as BIPOC. “We have diverse representation in the network,” said CEO Joanne Samuel Goldblum. “But we need to challenge ourselves to ensure that we’re equitably serving all the communities that make up NDBN.”

This is why we have started working with the Black Diaper Bank Coalition (BDBC) to help ensure that more of our grant writing is done specifically to support Black-led organizations as well as a change in the intentional allocation of resources.

See how you can help reduce diaper need in your community, and help Black mothers in need with National Diaper Bank Network. Click here to see how you can make a difference.