Providing culturally appropriate pregnancy care to black women


In the United States, infant mortality and health outcomes during and after pregnancy for black women are poor, and in some areas are plunging to lower levels than in developing countries. One way to improve the health of black women and their babies is to strengthen the interpersonal relationship and cultural understanding between providers and patients.

A new study led by researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health recently identified key culturally sensitive values ​​and practices among providers of a successful stand-alone birthing center serving a diverse urban community. The study, led by Ph.D. student J’Mag Karbeah and co-authored by Assistant Professor Rachel hardeman and associate professor Katy kojimannil, was recently published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.

The researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with midwives, student midwives, and doulas who worked or worked closely with an African-American birthing center in north Minneapolis, Minn.

The interviews revealed four key themes in how providers support their patients with racially aligned care:

  • Providers recognize the importance of understanding a mother’s specific identity and cultural needs, such as adhering to a special ethnic diet during pregnancy.
  • Providers see the provision of high-quality pregnancy care to minority populations as a means of advocating for reproductive and racial justice.
  • Providers empower patients by letting them know they trust their judgment and believe their patients generally know what is best for them.
  • Providers practice cultural humility by recognizing differences between themselves and their patients – such as ethnicity or economic status – and take the time to understand what a mother thinks is important to know about her / her. particular cultural context.

“These practices allow providers to engage in the cultural identity of the patient, which allows everyone to be a decision maker and take an active role in the pregnancy,” said Karbeah.

According to the researchers, the study also highlights the need to increase racial and ethnic diversity among the nation’s midwifery workforce due to changing demographics in many states, including Minnesota.

In the meantime, Karbeah encourages all providers to consider their patient’s cultural identity as an asset and to work collaboratively to integrate it into their care. “If they do that, the provider-patient the relationship becomes stronger, patients trust their providers more, which improves the health of black mothers and their babies. “

This study is part of a larger research project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) Program. The goal of the project is to explore ways in which community-based and culturally-focused clinical and support services can address the social determinants of health and childbirth outcomes that have produced disparities for Afro mothers and babies. – Americans for over a century.


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