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Doulas and midwives could help the Black maternal and infant mortality crisis

Black mothers are more likely than white mothers to die during pregnancy or delivery or in the year following.
Black mothers are more likely than white mothers to die during pregnancy or delivery or in the year following.

Throughout the U.S., Black mothers and babies are dying at horrific rates, especially in North Carolina. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women. Black women in North Carolina are two times more likely to die from complications in pregnancy.

Prematurity and low birth weight are some of the leading causes of infant deaths. March of Dimes, a nonprofit that works to improve the health of mothers and babies, gave North Carolina a D-plus for preterm births and Mecklenburg County a C-minus for preterm births. Additionally, in North Carolina, the preterm birth rate among Black women is 46% higher than all women.

Advocates for addressing the Black birth mortality rate have stated that this is a crisis caused by numerous factors, such as not being monitored carefully and dismissed. More doulas and midwives are stepping up to provide these mothers' advocacy and support. We're going to talk to a few of these advocates and ask why Black women are dying at such a high rate during childbirth and how doulas and midwives can help.


  • Venus Standard, certified midwife and director of DEI education and community engagement for the Department of Family Medicine at UNC Chapel Hill
  • Antonia Mead, chair of the Department of Health and Human Performance at Johnson C. Smith University
  • Tomeka Isaac, founder and executive director of Jace’s Journey
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Dante Miller is a community engagement producer for WFAE and a Report for America (RFA) Corps members. Dante first joined WFAE in 2020 through RFA to work as part of a unique partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Digital Public Library of America. Her work in that project allowed her to use radio, online stories, Wikipedia entries and events to meet the community's news and information needs.