Community birthing has always been a part of the American experience for Black women.
But a recent report suggests more women of color are turning their backs on traditional healthcare deciding to give birth at birthing centers or at home.
According to a report released in April by the Partnership for Women & Families, in 2020 community births increased by 24% among Hispanic women, 26% among Indigenous women, and 30% among Black women. The report also found that 34% of Black women who participated in the study said they would consider giving birth at a birth center and 21% said they would consider giving birth at home.
One of the biggest reasons for the higher rates of community births was the COVID-19 pandemic. Black women were fearful of giving birth in hospitals filled with COVID patients and also exposing newborns to the virus. Mothers also said they feared catching COVID and being separated from their newborns.
That fear leads to a steady increase in community births among Black women. According to the CDC, in April, home births increased by 30% and continued to exceed 2019 levels for May through December with increases ranging from 20% to 63%.
Another reason for the increase in community birthing among Black women is the cultural and systematic racism entrenched in the U.S. healthcare system.
“The reality is that on April 12, 2016, when we walked into Cedars-Sinai hospital for what we expected to be the happiest day of our lives, the greatest risk factor that Kira Dixon Johnson faced was racism,” said Charles Johnson during a press conference.
Maternal mortality is a serious problem in the Black community and disproportionately affects Black women. According to the CDC, in 2019 the maternal mortality rate for Black women was 44.0 deaths per 100,000 live births, 2.5 times the rate for white women (17.9) and 3.5 times the rate for Hispanic women (12.6).
In 2020, for Black women that number has risen to 55.3 deaths per 100,000.
“More people die from pregnancy and childbirth in the U.S. than any other industrialized nation,” Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, vice president for health justice at the National Partnership for Women & Families, told The Grio. “And that is just the tip of an enormous iceberg of the pain, trauma, and disability caused by near misses.”
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