Black Maternal Health Toolkit #1: How to Choose your Treatment Team

It is likely that you are aware of the higher rates of poor outcomes that Black women experience in the periods before, during, and after childbirth. Because of these risks, Black women may choose to take extra time selecting a healthcare facility that is sensitive to these risks. By doing research, asking the right questions, and sharing our stories, we can increase our chances of receiving high quality care.

Start by researching hospitals and hospital systems in your area. Make a spreadsheet. Has anything been written about each institution’s track record regarding maternal health outcomes, particularly for black women? A lot of this information can be found for free online in government databases and healthcare websites. Specifically, research information on general hospital performance, including mortality rates and patient satisfaction scores. Look for facilities that have implemented specific initiatives that are aimed at reducing racial disparities in maternal outcomes. Take a look at the faculty and staff pages on hospital and clinic websites. Hospitals with a diverse and culturally competent staff are more likely to understand and meet the unique needs of black women.

You can also reach out to your community. Seek recommendations from trusted healthcare professionals, friends, or family members who have had positive experiences. In fact, there is even an app for that! The Irth app is an online database where black women leave reviews and share their experiences with prenatal, birthing, postpartum, and pediatric care at various institutions.

After you have chosen a provider, as yourself: does this person actively listen to me? Am I being involved in important decision making? Are my questions being answered/being taken seriously? It is also important to remember that you can switch your provider/hospital at any time, no matter how far along you are in your pregnancy or even for follow up obstetric care. If you ever feel that you have been mistreated, you have the right to seek treatment elsewhere. Just be sure that you won’t have any lapses in your care. 

As black women, we have the unfortunate task of taking extra precautions when choosing a provider for prenatal and obstetric care. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available online and in app form to help make this process easier. We also owe it to each other to share our stories, both positive and negative. By doing this, we can help each other access high quality care and also provide hospitals with the necessary pressure to do better by Black women.

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