While Black Maternal Health Week is important in recognizing Black mothers everywhere and the challenges they face, we believe year-round efforts are needed to ensure that these issues and inequalities are adequately addressed.
The fact that Black women in the United States are three to four times more likely than white women to die during pregnancy, delivery, or within one year postpartum is unacceptable. Education and awareness around these disparities and statistics are helpful; so, too, are policy changes, which can break down barriers, dramatically improve outcomes, and boost quality of life.
Never Miss a Beat!
Subscribe to Our HealthBeat Newsletter!
Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!
Legislation to Address Inequities
In Pennsylvania, there are several pieces of legislation that would support Black pregnant women and mothers throughout the commonwealth. UPMC stands strongly behind these efforts and will work hand in hand with Pennsylvania lawmakers to move them forward. Some of the legislation we support includes a package of bills by state Sen. Judy Schwank and a postpartum depression bill by state Rep. Tarah Toohil.
- Senate Bill 359, sponsored by Sen. Judy Schwank, would expand Medicaid coverage for postpartum women from 60 days to one year.
- This added coverage would ensure that health issues experienced by new mothers are properly addressed, ultimately reducing the number of preventable maternal deaths.
- Senate Bill 360, sponsored by Sen. Judy Schwank, would extend Medicaid coverage to Doula services.
- Many Doulas have received cultural competency training and are invaluable in providing nonmedical comfort and support to women before, during, and after childbirth.
- Studies have shown that women who receive Doula support during childbirth are less likely to need a Caesarean surgery, which occurs more often among Black women.
- House Bill 200, sponsored by Rep. Tarah Toohil, would include postpartum depression as an “at risk” factor for Early Intervention Tracking under Pennsylvania Law.
- This bill would allow the children of mothers at high risk for postpartum depression to receive services to support their development, including their emotional, cognitive, and physical needs.
- Research indicates Black women are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression and less likely to receive treatment.