HealthChangers Podcast: Maternal health crisis in the US: Tackling racial disparities in pregnancy and maternal health care

By Regence
April 11, 2023
BMHW podcast

Regence discusses the complex factors that drive health disparities, the importance of self-advocacy and more in recognition of Black Maternal Health Week

Main image: Dr. Nicole Saint Clair (left) and podcast host Ben Furr (right)

On this episode of the HealthChangers podcast, Dr. Nicole Saint Clair, obstetrician-gynecologist and executive medical director at Regence, explains how the U.S. has some of the worst rates of maternal and infant health outcomes among high-income nations. And how health disparities are significantly worse for Black women and pregnant people.
Dr Nicole Saint Clair headshot
Dr. Nicole Saint Clair
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) article Working Together to Reduce Black Maternal Mortality:
  • Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women.
  • Multiple factors contribute to these disparities, such as variation in quality health care, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism and implicit bias.
  • More than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable.
A recent report by March of Dimes states that an average of two women die every day in the U.S. due to complications resulting from pregnancy, and two babies die each day – numbers that are disproportionately higher for moms and babies of color. The report also calls out that more than 2.2 million women of childbearing age live in maternity care deserts, where there is no hospital that provides obstetric care as well as a lack of birth centers and obstetric providers.
These alarming statistics are a call to action to do what we can to make maternal health care safer and better for all. Black Maternal Health Week (April 11 to 17) is a national campaign founded by Black Mamas Matter Alliance. It’s a week of awareness, activism and community building to amplify the voices, perspectives and lived experiences of Black mothers and birthing people. Self-advocacy and open communication between pregnant patients and their health care providers are a critical component for improving outcomes.
Regence members looking for pregnancy care resources and support, including in-network health care providers, can sign in at to learn more. Our Regence Customer Service team is also available to help by calling the number on their member ID card.