Maternal and Reproductive Health Implementation

African American women in the United States experience unacceptably poor maternal health outcomes, including disproportionately high rates of preventable deaths related to pregnancy and/or childbirth. Both societal and health system factors contribute to high rates of poor health outcomes and maternal mortality for African American women, who are more likely to experience barriers to receiving quality care and often face discrimination throughout their lives.

Due to lower incomes African American women and their families have less money to support themselves and their families, forcing them to choose between essential resources like housing, childcare, food, and health care.

These trade-offs are evident in African American women’s health outcomes and use of medical care. Compared to other races, African American women are more likely to be uninsured, face greater financial obstacles to care when they need it and have less access to prenatal care. Indeed, African American women experience higher rates of many preventable diseases and chronic health conditions including diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. When, or if, African American women choose to become pregnant, these health conditions influence both maternal and infant health outcomes.

Many African American women have a difficult time accessing the reproductive health care that meets their needs. Access to reproductive health care, which helps women plan their families, improves health outcomes for themselves and their children.

  • African American women experience higher rates of unintended pregnancies than all other racial groups, in part because of disparities in access to quality contraceptive care and counseling.
  • Many African American women are denied access to quality contraceptive care and counseling.
  • Hospitals serving African Americans have higher rates of maternal complications than other hospitals. They also perform worse on 12 of 15 birth outcomes, including elective deliveries, non-elective cesarean births and maternal mortality.

Support Is Important

The Balm In Gilead seeks to mobilize the faith community and raise awareness of the issues affecting Maternal and Reproductive Health Care among African American women via the capacity development of African American congregations to become an integral partner in:

  • Educating African American Women about Maternal and Reproductive Health Care
  • Educating the African American community on behaviors that support proper prenatal, postnatal and overall reproductive health care
  • Increasing awareness about the need for early maternal care
  • How to effectively support mothers and their growing families
  • Provide training and information to healthcare & public health professionals, regarding specific issues affecting maternal and reproductive health care among African American women.
  • Develop culturally tailored, faith-based tools and resources to be utilized by the health ministries to raise awareness about maternal care specifically affecting African American women within their congregations and communities

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