Black women are still dying from childbirth in 2022. Why? Guardian of Los Angeles | Los Angeles Sentinels

Black women are still dying from childbirth in 2022. Why?

Kara James is a registered nurse at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles

Black women in Los Angeles County are four times more likely to die from pregnancy and its complications than women of any other race. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, black mothers are dying from preventable causes at an increasing rate.

With all the medical and technological advances that have been made over the years, one would think that maternal health would be at the bottom of the list of health injustices affecting the African American community. But it is not. Unacceptably poor maternal health outcomes are a leading cause of death for Black women and have continually burdened our women for generations through no fault of their own. These results are largely due to institutional racism.

As a black mom, activist and nurse, I want better things for us! We are queens and deserve to live as such. But before we can do better, we need to know better. And that starts with figuring out why the pregnancy-related mortality rate is so high among black women. Racism and lack of access to and knowledge of resources play a major role as they contribute to persistent health inequalities in our community. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the pregnancy-related death rate among college-educated black women was five times that of white women with a similar education, it also became clear that status and education don’t matter.

To address the lack of access to and knowledge of resources in our community, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles (PPLA) is meeting our women where we live, work and play by offering services to us at their newest Inglewood Health Center. This location also serves as the flagship for the Black Health Initiative, an agency-wide program aimed at improving the overall well-being of our communities by empowering us to advocate for better health outcomes.

The Black Health Initiative works to improve the health of Black mothers by providing coaching to manage chronic conditions before, during and after pregnancy, recognizing underlying social needs that affect health, and providing patients with resources and programs connects, which are necessary for a successful development.

As a registered nurse at PPLA, I am proud to be part of a team that understands that patient-centred reproductive and sexual health care, delivered with dignity and respect, is vital to improving maternal health and addressing the inequalities that black women face are faced.

The Inglewood Health Center reaffirms the PPLA’s commitment to providing our community with the resources needed to address health inequalities by providing prenatal care, doula services, behavioral health services, contraception counseling, birth control and more. For services not provided at the health center, patients are referred to additional care that is accessible, culture-specific, and supports overall health and well-being.

I challenge you to share this information with the women in your life. We want Black women to feel comfortable in the knowledge that there are people who care about them and their unborn child, and they have the right to feel safe and receive the best care available to all women stands. You can learn more about the Black Health Initiative and Inglewood Health Center by visiting the location at 905 N. La Brea Ave. visit or call 800-576-5544.

The alarming number of black women dying in childbirth and after childbirth continues into 2022. We need real, systemic changes that enable access to healthcare in the environments where we live and work that are more equitable and responsive to our needs. Only then can Black women achieve optimal health equality.

Kara James is a registered nurse at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.

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