Maria Sansone

Black Women Are 2 to 3 Times More Likely to Die of Pregnancy-Related Causes. Here's Why

NBC Universal, Inc.

All women are excited and nervous when they get pregnant, but Black women face a unique set of challenges, according to board-certified OB/GYN Jessica Shepherd.

The risks Black women face in maternal health are different than those for White women. They are two to three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes, according to the CDC.

So, there can be a lot of fear. And, while the doctor-patient relationship is always critical between mom-to-be and her OB/GYN, Dr. Shepherd says there can be different questions for Black women that need to be addressed.

"Communication is a big part in where we see kind of that breakdown of what is being discussed and what is being understood," says Dr. Shepherd.


She says do not be afraid to ask questions-- any questions. You need to feel empowered in your own health journey.

And as far as the medical community doing its part, she says, "Even in myself, there are implicit biases. And if we're not willing to accept those biases and pay attention to them, and do something to actually change that, then that from our end is not going to change as well."


She says if you are thinking that you want a Black doctor because he or she will know what you are going through or understand your struggles, you should know that Black doctors are only 5-7% of the overall doctor community, and it's far less if you are looking for a Black female doctor.

Dr. Shepherd says we need far more diversity in medicine.

See Dr. Shepherd's entire episode on Mom2Mom with a lot more tips and information here.

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