According to the CDC, death rates for women giving birth in the United States jumped from 23.8 deaths to 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021. The data also shows that mortality rates are the highest among Black women, who are two to six times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.

While the data cannot pinpoint specific causes for the disparities between white and Black women, studies suggest the care provided during pregnancy and postpartum are contributing factors. Celebrities like Serena Williams, who had to advocate for proper medical attention, and Beyonce, who experienced pregnancy complications, have highlighted the dangers of giving birth in the U.S.

Although several countries have higher maternal mortality rates, studies show that women in the U.S. face the highest rates of preventable maternal mortality when compared with women in 10 other wealthy nations.

These startling numbers have led to an increase in women having doulas in their birthing plans. A doula is a non-medical professional trained to offer support during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

On this episode of “The Word” podcast, Monique Cowan, a trained Long Beach doula featured on the Dove Black Doula Directory, reveals how little most people know about childbirth and everything that comes with it.

To learn more about Cowan, you can visit her website or email her at [email protected].