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  • Writer's pictureDr. Shaenor Ishmael

Addressing Disparities in Maternal Health: The Crisis of Black Maternal Health


In the realm of maternal health, a striking and concerning disparity exists that disproportionately affects Black mothers. The crisis of Black maternal health reveals a disturbing reality where Black women face significantly higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity compared to their white counterparts. This profound issue is multifaceted, rooted in systemic challenges such as implicit bias in healthcare, limited access to quality care, and insufficient support systems.


A comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach is imperative to address this crisis effectively, emphasizing the collaboration of various specialties within the medical field.

 

1.    Implicit bias: Both conscious and unconscious, permeates healthcare settings and profoundly impacts the treatment and outcomes of Black mothers. Studies have shown that Black women are often met with stereotypes and prejudices that influence the care they receive, often leading to misdiagnosis, inadequate pain management, and overall poorer health outcomes. Combating implicit bias requires active efforts from healthcare providers to acknowledge and confront their prejudices, as well as systemic changes in healthcare institutions to promote equity and inclusivity in patient care.


2.    Access to quality healthcare: Another critical challenge that contributes to the disparities in Black maternal health. Structural barriers such as lack of insurance, geographic distance to healthcare facilities, and limited availability of culturally humble care providers create obstacles for Black mothers seeking adequate prenatal and postnatal care. Ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare facilities and services is essential to improving maternal health outcomes and reducing disparities among Black women.


3.    Absence of Support Systems: Moreover, the absence of robust support systems further exacerbates the challenges faced by Black mothers during pregnancy and childbirth. A multidisciplinary approach to Black maternal health involves assembling a diverse team of healthcare professionals, including obstetricians/gynecologists, midwives, doulas, mental health professionals, lactation specialists, and pelvic floor physical therapist. This holistic approach ensures that Black mothers receive comprehensive care that addresses not only their physical health but also their mental and emotional well-being throughout the perinatal period.

 

Black Maternal Health Week, observed annually from April 11 - 17, serves as a pivotal moment for advocacy, awareness, and action to address the disparities in Black maternal health. This week-long initiative aims to elevate the voices of Black mothers, raise awareness about the challenges they face, and mobilize efforts to improve maternal health outcomes within the Black community. It provides a platform for educating the public, healthcare providers, and policymakers about the urgent need to prioritize and invest in Black maternal health.

 

Addressing the crisis of Black maternal health demands a coordinated and collaborative effort from healthcare providers, policymakers, and the community. By recognizing and combating implicit bias, enhancing access to quality care, fostering robust support systems, and promoting a multidisciplinary approach to care, we can strive towards achieving equality in maternal health outcomes for Black mothers.

 

Join us in advocating for change. Use your voice to raise awareness about the crisis of Black Maternal Health. Together, we can make a difference.


Get in touch with us.

Tel. 407-494-6165



Dr. Shaenor Ishmael

Maternal Mental Health Therapist






 

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