Listening to Women of Color: Recommendations to Improve Experiences in Pregnancy and Birth Care

Findings from Listening to Women: Recommendations from Women of Color to Improve Experiences in Pregnancy and Birth Care are described by the author and PTBi researcher, Molly Altman. Additional authors include Monica R. McLemore, Talita Oseguera, Audrey Lyndon, and Linda S. Franck.

Abstract Introduction

Women of color are at increased risk for poor birth outcomes, often driven by upstream social determinants and socially structured systems. Given the increasing rate of maternal mortality in the United States, particularly for women of color, there is a pressing need to find solutions to improving care quality and access for racially marginalized communities. This study aims to describe and thematically analyze the recommendations to improve pregnancy and birth care made by women of color with lived experience of perinatal health care.

Please describe your findings.

As part of a larger study exploring the experience of women of color interacting with health care providers during pregnancy and birth, participants shared a wealth of experiences and concrete recommendations for improvement around care during pregnancy and childbirth. Participants shared recommendations at the individual provider level, such as spending quality time, relationship building and making meaningful connections, person-centered care, and partnership in decision-making. They also shared recommendations at the health care systems level including maintaining continuity of care, racial concordance with providers, care structures that support the needs of women of color, and implicit bias trainings to reduce judgment, stereotyping, and discrimination.

What is important about the article?

In this time and age, it is crucial to amplify the voices of community members who have lived experience and expertise in how health care is received. This study aimed to assure that the expertise of women of color experiencing pregnancy and birth care is shared to further improve how health care providers and systems provide care.

What is already known about this topic, and how do your findings add to or change this existing knowledge?

While many of the recommendations shared by participants in this study have been described in the existing literature, this article not only strengthens the evidence supporting care improvement modalities but centers the perspectives and expertise of those who are directly affected by pregnancy and birth care. Including the lived experience perspective is crucial for addressing change that will actual impact patient experiences and subsequent outcomes.

What should researchers/providers/patients/public health workers/etc. take away after reading the article?

Participants in this study shared concrete ways that health care providers and health care systems can improve pregnancy and birth care for women of color. Providers and health care systems should consider action to improve care in the described ways to promote effective and lasting change.

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