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Maternal Health Considerations for Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations

American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women are 3-4 times as likely to die as non-Hispanic White women from pregnancy-related complications. Black women are twice as likely to experience severe maternal morbidity, and three times more likely to die from complications related to pregnancy and birth than non-Hispanic White women.

Mothers living in rural areas are less likely to initiate breastfeeding than their non-rural counterparts. Additionally, Black and American Indian women are less likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding, when compared to non-Hispanic White women:

  • Initiate breastfeeding:
    • 60% Black
    • 74% American Indian
    • 78% White
  • Still breastfeeding at 12 months:
    • 13% Black
    • 21% American Indian
    • 24% White

Black and Hispanic women are more likely to suffer from multiple postpartum mood disorders and less likely to seek support than White women. About 18% of American Indian women, 11% of Black women, and 9% of non-Hispanic White women reported experiencing postpartum depression symptoms within nine months of giving birth.

Approximately 52% of AI/AN women, 51% of multiracial women, and 41% of non-Hispanic Black women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime, as opposed to 31% of non-Hispanic White women. These are only the reported cases so actual rates are likely higher.

Resources to Learn More

Black Mamas Matter Toolkit
Provides resources on Black maternal health for advocates and maternity care providers. Includes data and research on maternal health with an emphasis on racial disparities. Contains personal stories from Southern Black women about sexual, reproductive, and maternal health.
Organization(s): Black Mamas Matter Alliance
Date: 2018