The Lived Experience of Pregnancy as a Black Woman in America: A Descriptive Phenomenological Case Study

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Online Journal of Interprofessional Health Promotion

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For more than fifty years, black women have faced more than double the U.S. average risk for both maternal mortality [1] and severe morbidity [2]. In addition, black women face two to three times the risk for preterm and low birth weight infant outcomes [3 - 7]. Poverty, barriers to healthcare access, and lifestyle choices are commonly identified factors influencing this disparity [5, 7, 8]. These stress-related factors are credible; however, half a century of studies, based on the same, have not led to improved outcomes. Large population studies indicate that such factors alone are inadequate to explain the problem [9], and the disparity persists. While individual stressors have a role in race related health disparities, particularly in pregnancy outcomes, a comprehensive explanation of the problem incorporating complex social, environmental, interpersonal factors with individual components are needed. Yet, there is a paucity of such comprehensive evidence. Specifically, there is insufficient description of the lived experience of adversity for pregnant black women.