(WOMENSENEWS)--The logo for this series is meant to represent a key idea: Maternal health is all about embracing the mother.
But in the United States, African American women confront striking statistics as they form partnerships, become parents and care for their children.
African American women are three-to-six times more likely to die during pregnancy and the six weeks after delivery than U.S. white and Latina women. That holds true across various levels of income and education. In fact, some studies find middle-income and highly educated African American women at higher risk.
Black women form 12 percent of the United States' female population but represent nearly half of maternal mortalities.
Compared to any other group of women, black women are least likely to breastfeed a child exclusively at six months, a government target for promoting healthier children. Consistent nursing also reduces a woman's risk of breast and ovarian cancers--protection especially important to African American women who are more vulnerable for these types of cancers.
How to explain these pregnancy experiences? The stress of living with racism--from workplace discrimination to maltreatment in maternity wards -- is now a leading hypothesis.
Women's eNews intends to cover this story over a period of years as we use the art and science of journalism to document and explore many complex and interlocking elements. Tradition, history, personal experience, institutional bias, corporate interests and health insurance procedures will all be examined. With hope, our work will contribute to a society where more expectant mothers can experience the joy of giving birth to a healthy infant.
Women's eNews thanks the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for proving the support for this series.
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