Earlier this week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced that they are pregnant with their first child. Last week, Adrienne Bailon shared her personal struggle with getting pregnant. While we wish both of these women successful and healthy pregnancies, we also know one woman is more than likely to face more complications during childbirth than the other woman is. A new study, conducted by the University of Michigan, shows that there is a higher risk of developing a life-threatening condition during childbirth for Black and Latina mothers than there is for white women.

Photo Credit: Action Vance 711841 via Unsplash

The report, which will be published in November in the Journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, shows that childbirth complications happen in 1.6 percent of all deliveries but that the rate of Black and Latina mothers who suffer serious problems during childbirth, including death, is 70 percent higher than white women. Despite some of the women being healthy before the pregnancy, the study shows that in the delivery room, Black and Latina mothers are facing severe health issues like blood clots, kidney failure, sepsis, eclampsia and heart failure at higher numbers.

The study used data from 10 kinds of life-threatening conditions like heart failure, kidney failure, ventilation, shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome, eclampsia, hysterectomy, and sepsis.  The study also showed blood transfusions, used mainly in women suffering a serious hemorrhage were the most common and accounted for 75 percent of cases and the biggest racial disparity.

The study also suggests that in the delivery room, doctors need to pay extra attention to women of color – listening to them when they say they are in pain, considering pre-existing conditions, and preparing for complications ahead of time. Additionally, researchers found that if all women were to have the same outcomes as white women, it would result in roughly 8,100 fewer lifesaving medical procedures and 28 percent fewer severe health complications among racial and ethnic minority women with Black women seeing the biggest improvement.

Serena Williams and her newborn baby

Earlier this year, Serena Williams revealed some terrifying details about her labor, including developing blood clots in her lungs, and how she almost died giving birth. Beyoncé has also shared that she suffered from pre-eclampsia during her second pregnancy. Unfortunately, their experiences are not uncommon for a lot of Black and Latina mothers but sharing their stories has brought both social awareness and medical attention to the needs of Black and Latina mothers in the delivery room.

Lead study author and obstetrician, Dr. Lindsay Admon, told the Daily Mail that “It’s fantastic and important that two such strong high-profile women have come forward and shared their stories and it’s important we encourage women to do so. We’re finally shedding a light on racial and ethnic disparities and if we continue to shed that light describing health status and outcomes among Hispanic and black women during birth, it will encourage a larger community of women to share their experience with families, communities and health care providers.”