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Fearing Coronavirus, Many Rural Black Women Avoid Hospitals to Give Birth at Home (PEW TRUST)


By April Simpson, April 18, 2020, PEW Trust

Black women are two to three times more likely to die from causes related to pregnancy than white women, regardless of income or education. Black midwives could be part of the solution, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, but restrictions on midwifery make it difficult to practice in many states.

Pregnant women in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi have been calling nonstop to CHOICES Midwifery Practice in Memphis, but the center is booked. 

The callers are terrified that they or their babies will contract the novel coronavirus if they deliver in hospitals. Some women live in rural areas far from hospitals and obstetrics units. The center’s clients are primarily black and other women of color. 

“They’ve told us they’re going to risk it all and have an unassisted home birth,” said Nikia Grayson, a certified nurse midwife and director of perinatal services. “That’s very scary, and that’s what people are researching and seeing as a viable option.”

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