Blogs / Pregnancy

Maternal Health Questionnaire

Black Maternal Health 

Much of the information on black maternal health is just data and numbers to science. My goal with this maternal health questionnaire is to put names and faces to the crisis surrounding childbirth in the African-American community. The maternal mortality rate among non-Hispanic white women was 25.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to the non-Hispanic African-American/Black women recording 40.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. That’s a 1.6x higher death rate for non-Hispanic Black mothers than non-Hispanic white mothers in Oklahoma. In some states like Illinois, it’s 6x more dangerous for a Black woman to give birth. 

Crisis Status

Maternal death is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) “as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.”

In Oklahoma, for the years 2006 to 2019, the majority of maternal deaths (40.1%) occurred among women who graduated from high school or had passed a GED. Women who received some college credit but did not obtain a degree or who had acquired an Associate’s degree accounted for 30.9% of maternal deaths; 16.4% were among women who had less than a high school education. Those women who received a Bachelor’s degree or higher accounted for 11.8% of maternal deaths. The data shows that death is more likely in childbirth as a Black woman irrespective of education level. For many non-Hispanic Black women, it is too dangerous to carry a child. You could ultimately lose your life. 

Did You Know?

According to the World Health Organization, 9 out of 10 maternal deaths are preventable with timely access to evidence-based maternal care. Most of the people we lose in childbirth are unnecessary and could be prevented with the proper care. No matter what the systemic issue is, Black women will pay the most significant price. It’s the American way. Imagine if your doctor had an 84% fail rate at treating illnesses. Would that not be considered a crisis? 


I’ve toiled with telling my sister’s story for years. The thought of it still makes me choke up, and she’s been gone forever, it seems. The data doesn’t show you the people lost, the family left behind, the child who will never know their first hero. To them, it’s just numbers – a byproduct of the system. This maternal health questionnaire will help develop the conversation and lend Black voices to the epidemic. To me, the grossly overrepresented deaths of Black women in pregnancy seems intentional and personal. That is why Kenisha’s story is so important.

Please answer this questionnaire to the best of your ability. Also, there are hella trigger warnings, so please be mindful of that. I probably cried 15 times trying to get this together, lol. My goal is to grow this and possibly turn it into a short film. Kenisha’s story, as well as that of many other Black women, deserves to be told.


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