We are proud to work with organizations that have a shared mission.
Waiting for the results of a pregnancy test can make three minutes feel like three weeks. As we wait, many of us struggle with a number of questions. From maternity style and baby room decor, to fears of parenting failure and financial stress.
For most, this is an exciting time. One where we can focus on the positive aspects of pregnancy and the parenting journey. But for many women of color, fear may overtake excitement. The most pressing questions may not be about furnishings and finances. Instead, they may be if and how she will ensure she’s able to survive the experience and deliver a healthy child.
A National Crisis
The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, with Black women being impacted at the highest rate (CDC). Black women are 3-4x more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues. Education and economic status do not impact this statistic. Black babies are impacted as well. They are 50% more likely to be born preterm. Consequently, this leads to significant lifelong health effects.
There are many factors driving the inequity in care. They include access and coverage gaps, social determinants of health, and structural racism. In some cases, women don’t have a way to physically get the proper care they need. Facilities equipped to care for them simply don’t exist where they live. Consider these factors, along with implicit biases of caregivers and a systemic lack of cultural competency. With this, we can see why the system is failing women of color far more than their white counterparts.
Many women express fear of advocating for themselves. They feel that they do not have the power to make decisions about their pregnancy. There is also mistrust between patient and doctor. It is layered in race, class, education, and lived experiences. This creates a dynamic that can prove dangerous for Black women and their babies.
To address this maternal health crisis, we need creative and innovative solutions. New technology allows us to meet people where they are. Therefore, we can close some of these gaps and eliminate some of these barriers.
Mae was created to bridge a gap for Black women in pregnancy. It offers digital supportive care for anyone, from anywhere. It is a digital health platform on a mission to reduce maternal health disparities. Mae seeks to redefine the pregnancy experience for expectant mothers of color by combining weekly health tracking, real-time issue escalation support, and culturally-resonant resources and education. Yet, we know that this alone isn’t enough.
We know we need real voices, support, and advocates by our side. Mae prioritizes on-the-ground support from birth workers. Doulas, lactation consultants, and community members can relate to our lived experiences. Above all, they can advocate for those who don’t feel safe or seen.
We know that representation matters. A lack of inclusion in research plays a huge role in these gaps in access and care. Mae is proud to join the Scripps Research Digital Trials Center (DTC), PowerMom Consortium. This was born out of a long-time commitment from one of the nation’s leading non-profit research institutions to transform medical research through digital data.
The Scripps Research DTC is approaching this challenge through innovation, crowdsourcing, and community outreach. The PowerMom team has developed an app-based research platform that allows pregnant people to share health data through surveys, electronic health records, and wearables.
By involving pregnant people from diverse communities throughout the United States, PowerMom aims to help achieve equity in maternity care — for ALL pregnant people. PowerMom is committed to uncovering patterns in healthy pregnancies. We are working together to discover answers to questions moms (and soon-to-be-moms) have about their bodies and their growing babies.
Some of these questions include:
- How does healthcare access in different parts of the country influence health outcomes?
- What pre-existing conditions lead to early birth?
- How does the support pregnant people receive influence mood disorders & postpartum depression across a diverse population?
One solution is not enough. One organization cannot fix the system alone. We know that without a commitment to partnership, we will never see change.
“We are incredibly fortunate to be working with an exceptional group of organizations whose support will be invaluable to our goal of building a diverse community of pregnant people and advancing research on health disparities in maternal health,” says Katie Baca-Motes, director of strategic initiatives at Scripps Research.
The PowerMom Consortium represents a commitment to getting to the root of the problem through research and the study of the populations most impacted by these deficits in care.
We are thrilled to highlight the partnership between Mae and Scripps, and with every member of the PowerMom Consortium. We know that the work we are doing will reveal tangible ways to make real improvements in maternal healthcare.
Lauren Serpico, Ph.D, is the Sr. Project Manager of Social Media Content at Scripps Research Digital Trials Center and the co-author of this post. For more posts by Lauren, visit Powermom.edu.