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“How Do Racial Disparities Affect Black Postpartum Health?”

Author: Ayesha Muhammad

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

Abstract: In the U.S, Black women experience some of the worst postpartum complications due to consistent, structural racism, discrimination, and prejudice acts. Furthermore, Black maternal health is a public health crisis that requires research advancements and political action. Within this literature review, qualitative and quantitative data is used to highlight the disparities with Black women and postpartum health. Findings indicate that Black women's socioeconomic status brings about substandard care and subsequent experiences of complications. Compared to white women, Black women are three to four times more likely to experience pregnancy-related fatality. Fatalities are caused by conditions such as, preeclampsia/eclampsia, postpartum cardiomyopathy, embolism, mental health conditions, infections, higher use of cesarean, and hemorrhages. Black women are also amongst those within the Medicaid ``coverage gap” that limits access to affordable, comprehensive coverage for medical services unaffordable. A pending policy with potential to address these inequalities within the healthcare system is the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act. With the ratification of this act, there are resolutions for cultural competence, healthcare access for Medicaid enrollees, and quality services. To improve cultural competence in maternal health, more Black medical representation in the perinatal workforce is critical. For the reduction in disparities of low-income populations and Medicaid recipients, insurance companies must incentivize high-quality maternity care through innovative payment methods. Enhanced access to postpartum care for Black women demands more investment in services.

Keywords: Black Maternal Healthy, Inequality, Disparities, Health Issues, Postpartum, Maternal mortality, systematic Barriers, Quality Care, Delivery Care, Health equity