Delaware summit to focus on maternal health

Pregnancy-related deaths on rise, particularly among Black women

By Tim Mastro
Posted 4/21/22

The state’s maternal mortality rates are on the rise, especially among Black women, according to the Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium.

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Delaware summit to focus on maternal health

Pregnancy-related deaths on rise, particularly among Black women

Posted

The state’s maternal mortality rates are on the rise, especially among Black women, according to the Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium.

And nationwide, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related issue than White women are.

Further, the number representing the Black infant mortality rate is higher: 12.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, three times more than the White infant mortality rate of 4.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, according to DHMIC.

“When you’re doing this work, you always want to look for a decline, but trends are rising and steadily rising,” said Tiffany Chalk, chair of DHMIC’s Well-Women/Black Maternal Health Group.

It’s why the consortium is looking to raise awareness for Black mothers and address discrepancies in maternal health.

A recent resolution in the Delaware General Assembly recognized the week of April 11-17 as Black Maternal Health Awareness Week. On the heels of that, DHMIC is holding its 16th annual summit Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to “focus on galvanizing communities to improve the health of women before, during, and between pregnancy, as well as address racial and geographic disparities for moms, babies, and families.”

The theme for the summit is “Listening. Connecting. Inspiring Change.” It will be held virtually, and registration is available here.

According to recent DHMIC statistics, Delaware ranks 28th in the nation for the prevalence of infant mortality. And 7 out of every 10 pregnancy-related deaths in Delaware are preventable, Ms. Chalk said.

“We need to form respectful, culturally appropriate and culturally competent relationships with our health care systems and providers,” Ms. Chalk said. “Because Black women, they have trust issues. So that’s why home births have been on the rise. Doulas and midwives have been added to the birthing team more than in prior years.”

She added that the use of doulas, non-medical professionals who provide emotional support during pregnancies, births and immediate postpartum periods, can lead to better maternal and birth outcomes. The federal Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020 included some funding to implement doula pilot programs and Medicaid reimbursement for such providers. Other pending legislation through that act seeks to increase resources and monies for maternal mental health services.

Ms. Chalk said another focus of the consortium is to elevate women’s voices.

“We’re charging women, specifically Black women, to take ownership over your own health,” she said. “Ask those questions when something doesn’t feel right. Speak up and get somebody to listen. Don’t just check a box on a checklist if, on the inside, you know something is not right.”