Black women in Ohio are more likely to have pregnancy-related deaths than white women. One group is hoping to change that.

Black mother and baby
Posted at 8:56 PM, May 24, 2022

CINCINNATI — New numbers from the Center for Disease Control show the birth rate in the United States is up for the first time since 2014, but there is concern for the lives of Black women who die at a disproportionate rate during pregnancy and postpartum.

Black mothers in the United States are three times more likely to have a pregnancy-related death than their white counterparts, according to the American Public Health Association.

“There are so many women here locally who have shared stories where they weren’t listened to, they weren’t heard,” said Josselyn Okorodudu of Cradle Cincinnati.

Okorodudu and her team at Cradle work to reduce the number of women who die each year related to childbirth.

Black women in Ohio are two and a half times as likely to have a pregnancy-related death than white women, per the Ohio Department of Health.

“Unfortunately, racism plays a role,” Okorodudu said. “Some people believe that Black women are not to be believed. It plays a really dastardly role when we are talking about a mother who is carrying life and going through child birth.”

Christine Moore, a nurse practitioner with UC College of Medicine, said some of the leading causes of those deaths are cardiovascular and coronary conditions, infections and pre-eclampsia.

“We know that black women are dying at an alarming rate,” Moore said. “We know that we have to look out for ourselves too. I don’t want people to feel like they have to be their own doctor but we do just have to equip our women.”

Moore suggested pregnant Black women and their supporters know their vital sign numbers and the chain of command to call when they feel something is wrong.

“We created the ‘Black girls guide to pregnancy,’" Okorodudu said. “That really walks them through their pregnancy, birthing and postpartum experiences and letting them know what to keep a look out for and who to contact if they are having difficulties.”

Cradle Cincinnati hosted a panel Tuesday to discuss how Black women can advocate for themselves with health professionals.

Too many Black moms die of pregnancy-related causes, and a new effort is working to change that
Maternal mortality: Could doulas help keep more Black moms and babies alive?