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Black maternal health matters at VA

Black women make up more than 30 percent of all women Veterans receiving health care at VA.

This Black Maternal Health Week, we aim to raise awareness about the unique challenges and disparities faced by Black mothers in the realm of maternal health care and promote equitable and accessible health care.

Both non-Veteran and Veteran Black women are at least three times more likely to die due to a pregnancy-related cause when compared to white women, likely due to causes such as chronic health conditions, lack of access to care or racial bias.

VA recognizes that to improve maternal health outcomes for Black Veterans and all Veterans of color, we must address the impact of bias and racism on health care delivery. VA trains health care professionals to be culturally competent, fostering an environment where Black mothers feel heard, understood and respected.

This approach helps build trust between providers and patients, ultimately improving health outcomes. Our providers are committed to providing quality care in a manner that considers the whole health of pregnant Veterans.

Advocating for Black maternal health: Our approach

VA focuses on the Veteran. That means considering all your needs—including housing and food security, which have been shown to improve Veterans’ chances for a healthy pregnancy and recovery.

Every VA facility has a maternity care coordinator who can help you find and arrange appointments and services. VA may refer pregnant women to services in the community. The maternity care coordinators are your health care advocates to help you get the services you need both within and outside of VA and connect you to support systems.

Our maternity care coordinators listen to Veterans to hear all your concerns during pregnancy. By partnering with you, our providers work to reduce complications during pregnancy, birth and post-pregnancy. VA also provides health care for newborns for the first seven days after birth.

If you are a Black woman who wants to become pregnant, talk with your provider. Your provider can help with any social and physical concerns that may affect your healthy pregnancy.

If you are pregnant, seek immediate care if you’re experiencing any of the urgent maternal warning signs, including severe headache, extreme swelling of hands or face, trouble breathing, heavy vaginal bleeding or discharge, or overwhelming tiredness.

After delivery, share your recent pregnancy history during each medical care visit for up to one year to help your provider address any post-pregnancy health concerns.

In addition to maternity care services, VA offers preconception carefertility care, and postpartum mood and anxiety treatment.

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