Editor's note: our site has partnered with Black Women Birthing Justice to help address the racial disparities in pregnancy-related mortality rates. The latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that Black women in the United States are more than twice as likely as white women to die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, and the higher risks cut across income and education levels. This is the first of a three-part blog series that touches on strategies that can help Black women through their birthing journeys.
Culturally competent caregivers provide care that is respectful of and responsive to the values, beliefs, and behaviors of diverse patients. Feeling respected and supported reduces the stress that often accompanies engaging with healthcare providers. Also, by tailoring their care to meet your social, cultural, and linguistic needs, maternal healthcare providers are more effective in helping you have a safe and positive pregnancy and birth experience.
Here are questions you can ask potential healthcare providers:
- About what percent of your practice's clients have been African American in the past month or year?
- Have you participated in implicit bias or cultural humility training?
- Do you promote or encourage doula support?
- Do you offer options for group prenatal care?
- What are the c-section and prematurity rates of your practice?
- How do you feel about pain management during childbirth?
- How often do you suggest induction of labor, and under what circumstances?
- How much time is available at each appointment for patients to get answers to questions and discuss concerns? And when I call with questions, what is your response time?
- What can you tell me about the disparities in maternal and infant healthcare for African Americans?
- How do you encourage staff to practice a thorough informed consent?
These questions are just starting points to help you identify whether you're engaging with a culturally sensitive healthcare provider. It's important to educate yourself and learn what your rights are at the caregiver's office and in the hospital. This will give you a better chance of having the empowering birth that you deserve.
For more information about the importance of finding culturally competent caregivers, visit the Black Women Birthing Justice website. And for more information on the birthing justice and community-centered solutions for reducing maternal deaths, check out Battling Over Birth.
The report shares the birth experiences of black women and makes a series of recommendations, including having community accountability boards hold hospitals accountable; increasing access to midwifery and doula care; recruiting and training more healthcare professionals of color; providing culturally competent, empowering prenatal and postpartum care; offering greater access to home birth and birth centers, and sharply reducing in the number of c-section deliveries.
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