Pregnancy-related deaths affecting black mothers in Arkansas

The report shows that in 2018, black women gave birth to 19% of babies in Arkansas and accounted for 37% of pregnancy-related deaths in Arkansas.

ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas ranks third in the nation for pregnancy-related deaths. According to a recent report, these deaths disproportionately affect black mothers.

Arkansas’ Maternal Mortality Review Board has released a new report breaking down the numbers.

The report shows that in 2018, black women gave birth to 19% of babies in Arkansas and accounted for 37% of pregnancy-related deaths in Arkansas.

“This should be a wake-up call and a call to action to address maternal health in Arkansas,” said Dr. Creshelle Nash of Blue Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield.

According to research, black mothers are 2.3 times more likely to die than white mothers during labor. Several factors contribute to statistics inside and outside the health system.

“We don’t have providers everywhere we need them in the state,” Dr. Nash said. “Some areas don’t have a hospital you can give birth in, and some areas don’t have OBGYNS. And then when you look inside the health care system, women of color don’t get the same quality of care as everyone else.

In Arkansas, there are no black licensed midwives. Two women from central Arkansas are looking to change that.

While seeking midwifery certification, Nicole Fletcher and Sarita Hendrix started the Ujima Maternity Network. Their goal is to help alleviate fears of death in pregnant black women.

“You shouldn’t have to wonder if I’m going to survive this or will my baby survive this,” Nicole said. “But that’s what we hear from women all over the state.”

She told 5NEWS that trust and emotional support could reduce the high rate of maternal mortality.

“A big part of that is creating space for women to see other women who are like them as practitioners and as people who can serve them,” Nicole said.

With this comfort margin, patients can communicate and advocate, and physicians can provide better care to help prevent 92% of deaths from preventable diseases.

“All of the data and statistics that we talk about are alarming and frightening,” Dr. Nash said. “The good news is that they found in their review that 92% of deaths were potentially preventable. That means we can do something about it.

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