LISTEN: GPB Morning Edition's Pamela Kirkland talks with Mama Glow CEO Latham Thomas about Black Maternal Health Week.

Pregnant woman

Black women in America are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, according to federal data.

Credit: Pexels/Stock photo

The number of women dying from complications during pregnancy in the United States is higher than in any other industrialized country in the world.

For Black women, the statistics are worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, almost three times the rate for non-Hispanic white women. The CDC notes that more than 80% of those deaths are preventable. 

Black Maternal Health Week is recognized each year from April 11 through April 17 to bring attention and action in improving Black maternal health.

Georgia ranks as one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the nation. Mama Glow is one organization working to improve the stark racial disparities and health care for Black women overall. The group is most well-known for providing doula training. A doula is a professional trained in labor and childbirth support. 

“We're really looking at solutions and also building a future that is solution-based and liberatory,” Mama Glow CEO Latham Thomas told GPB. “How I teach and when we do the Mama Glow Professional Doula training program, what it's grounded in, is really addressing the needs of marginalized individuals along this care continuum, but also through a lens that looks at what's possible.”

While doulas can offer support to pregnant people, there are financial barriers to access — they can be expensive and are often not covered by health insurance. Mama Glow and the beauty brand Carol’s Daughter partnered three years ago to create “Love Delivered,” a grant program for families who want doula services in Atlanta, New York, and other cities around the country.

“We created this program to be low barrier so that people could get the support they need without having to jump through hoops,” Thomas said.

She hopes that their work will facilitate systemic change.

“Better care creates and breeds the pathway for trust from the community, and better experiences will lead to more trust," Thomas said. "That's what we want for Black mothers. They should feel wrapped in support.”