Elaine Welteroth on the Black Maternal Mortality Crisis and Why She Chose a Home Birth

Two years ago, in Glamour‘s Black Maternal Health series, we investigated the inequities Black women face during pregnancy and postpartum. At the time, Black women in the United States were three to five times more likely to die from pregnancy or postpartum issues than white women. Fast-forward to 2022, and an analysis by the Government Accountability Office reaffirmed this stark reality: Black women had the highest maternal mortality rates across racial and ethnic groups during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021.

With no evidence of this crisis abating, the infant formula brand Bobbie, the charity 4Kira4Moms, and journalist Elaine Welteroth partnered to raise more awareness for Black maternal mortality and push for policy change in the US. On January 18, Welteroth debuted a mini documentary of her birth story and decision to deliver her son via midwifery and home birth, an option that she says she felt would be a safer experience. 

Hannah Shea / Bobbie

“There’s this idea that if you have a certain amount of education or a certain network or a certain status, maybe the stats don’t apply to you. But you would be gravely mistaken,” Welteroth said in a statement. Indeed, these horrifying realities are why nonprofits like 4Kira4Moms (founded in 2017) exist, and why other women, from Kamala Harris to Serena Williams and Beyoncé, center their advocacy around the dangers Black women face when seeking care in the US. 

“Today’s health care system simply does not advantage Black women,” says Welteroth. “I wanted my birth to feel safe and sacred. I could not find that in the hospital system as it currently exists.” She’s not alone, or wrong. Studies show that incorporating midwives into health care systems could prevent more than 80% of maternal deaths. “I felt empowered when I came to realize the power that midwives give back to birthing people—especially women of color—seeking a positive childbirth experience…. It was the best decision of my life.”


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