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“Addressing Black Maternal Mortality: The Urgent Need for Black Midwives”

"Addressing Black Maternal Mortality: The Urgent Need for Black Midwives"

Connecticut has recently stepped up its efforts to tackle the concerning issue of Black maternal mortality, recognizing the stark racial disparities prevalent in maternal and infant healthcare. Initiatives such as the Black Maternal Health Initiative by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and strategic actions outlined by healthcare institutions like Hartford Healthcare signify a concerted push towards improving outcomes for Black mothers. However, despite these endeavors, there remains a critical oversight in the conversation – the absence of Black midwives.

The significance of this omission becomes apparent when considering the persistent disparities faced by Black mothers in Connecticut. Shockingly, statistics reveal that for every infant born to a white mother in New Haven who does not survive beyond the first year, three infants born to Black mothers meet the same fate. Additionally, Black mothers in the state are 1.5 times more likely to give birth prematurely, underscoring the urgent need for targeted interventions.

The lack of representation of Black midwives as key stakeholders in addressing maternal mortality not only reflects a power imbalance in decision-making but also perpetuates a flawed ideology regarding maternal healthcare. Despite ample evidence demonstrating the benefits of midwife-attended deliveries, including lower cesarean rates and higher patient satisfaction, the expertise of midwives is often overlooked in favor of traditional medical practitioners.

While initiatives such as providing state-funded doulas aim to support birthing individuals and mitigate potential healthcare discrimination, they fall short of addressing systemic issues within the maternal care system. Placing the burden on individuals to navigate a flawed system undermines the need for fundamental change.

Connecticut’s failure to invest in the recruitment and retention of Black midwives further exacerbates the problem. Despite the presence of nurse-midwifery programs in the state, the representation of Black midwives remains woefully inadequate. Recognizing the critical role of midwives, as highlighted in The White House Blueprint on Maternal Healthcare, is essential for meaningful progress in reducing maternal mortality rates.

In order to truly address the root causes of Black maternal mortality, Connecticut legislators must prioritize the inclusion of Black midwives as central figures in maternal healthcare initiatives. By centering the expertise and experiences of Black midwives, the state can take significant strides towards achieving equitable and accessible maternal healthcare for all its residents.



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