By Consumers For Quality Care, on April 28, 2021
According to The Baltimore Sun, Black mothers in the United States are four times as likely to die from child birth complications than white mothers. In New Jersey, that rate skyrockets to seven times more likely.
“We’re talking about people who are at greater risk of experiencing racism, implicit bias, being marginalized in the health care setting,” said Rachel Hardeman, who researches reproductive health equity at the University of Minnesota. “There’s more of a need for people to be able to cultivate a space that feels good and feels safe for them. There are fewer opportunities to see that happen in a more traditional health care setting, and that’s problematic.”
It’s these disparities, along with fears of the global health pandemic, that are causing a growing number of expecting mothers in communities of color, like Jamira Eaddy-Onque, to seek out alternative options to a hospital for childbirth.
Eaddy-Onque chose a birthing center, which serves women with low-risk pregnancies. The center utilizes midwives, who have medical training, as well as doulas, who provide emotional support, physical comfort and patient advocacy.
However, there are only 400 birth centers nationwide, as they face low insurance reimbursements and thus often involve high out-of-pocket costs. For Eaddy-Onque, however, the added cost was worth it:
“I don’t need to be further inconvenienced by a system that’s not going to listen to me,” she said.
A government-financed study showed clinical outcomes for low-risk mothers who used birth centers versus those who used hospitals were virtually identical. However, those outcomes can change when a low-risk labor quickly and unexpectedly changes to a high-risk situation or emergency.