The racial divide impacts childbirth related deaths

Did you know pregnant women of color are four times more likely to die during child birth than white pregnant women. It is a phenomenon in the health care community.

In fact, there are over 830 mothers who die when child bearing everyday around the world. That equals more than 303,000 deaths every year due to giving birth. In the United States alone, it is estimated that there are 700 deaths due to pregnancy and delivery complications, and most of those complications are more likely going to happen to black women. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of those deaths are preventable.

The percentage of maternal mortality is increasing. In 1986 there were 7.2 maternal deaths per 100,000 births and then in 2011 it was discovered that there are now 17.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. There are some speculations on why the number is so high; some researchers say it is because of improved methods of counting births. There is also now a pregnancy status box on death certificates that could account for the increase. But there is still no answer to why there are so many more black women affected by death due to pregnancy or childbirth complications.

This racial divide in maternal deaths has always been present and health care professionals have always known about it. Racism in America must be the leading contributor. People of color are usually not given as much access to quality health care, education, insurance coverage, and are usually facing higher levels of stress. Historically, black people have not been given the same opportunities, including the opportunity of having a stress free, healthy pregnancy experience that many white women have the privilege of having.

There is currently a five-part documentary series on a website called,, that goes through the journeys of different mothers, in different cities, each facing different hardships.

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