An earlier blog post brought you the story of Shalon Irving, the CDC epidemiologist who died just a few short weeks after giving birth to her daughter. Shalon’s story is tragic and brings to light a bigger issue. Black women are dying of pregnancy related causes at 3x the rate of other races. In our last blog, we examined fertility. This post will discuss prenatal care.
MedlinePlus defines prenatal care as “the health care you get while you are pregnant. It includes your checkups and prenatal testing. Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy. It lets your health care provider spot health problems early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others.”
The March of Dimes, one of the organizations that publishes maternal and infant health data, shows that the number of Black women that received inadequate prenatal care is much higher than women whose race is White or Asian/Pacific Islander. The reasons why this racial disparity in prenatal care exist are not simple or easily defined. A 2018 Newsweek article looks at this topic more in depth.
Pregnancy does come with risks and prenatal care is essential to help minimize complications and immediately address any that do occur. The CDC has a list of complications on their website and states that “It is very important for women to receive health care before and during pregnancy to decrease the risk of pregnancy complications.”
Once a black woman survives the pregnancy, they still face issues with labor and delivery and postpartum care. Our next blog will focus on labor and delivery. If you missed Shalon’s story earlier this week, read it here: story on npr.org about Shalon Irving