New CDC Vital Signs Report: Women Report Mistreatment During Pregnancy and Delivery

Every mom deserves respectful and responsive care during pregnancy and delivery

Maternal death rates in the U.S. rose from 2018 to 2021.1 More than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.2 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Black, and American Indian and Alaska Native women have the highest rates of pregnancy-related death.2

Women from some racial and ethnic minority groups are also more likely to have negative healthcare experiences during pregnancy and delivery that impact the quality of care and health outcomes.3

Survey finds clear disparities in mistreatment during maternity care

Twenty percent of those surveyed reported experiences of mistreatment during maternity care. Thirty percent of Black, 29% of Hispanic, and 27% of multiracial women reported mistreatment.

The most common types of mistreatment reported were:

  • Receiving no response to requests for help.
  • Being shouted at or scolded.
  • Not having their physical privacy protected.
  • Being threatened with withholding treatment or made to accept unwanted treatment.

Better communication is needed during maternity care

Almost half (45%) of moms reported holding back from asking questions or sharing concerns during their pregnancy or delivery. The top reasons included:

  • Thinking, or being told by friends or family, what they were feeling was normal.
  • Not wanting to make a big deal about it or being embarrassed to talk about it.
  • Thinking their healthcare provider would think they’re being difficult.
  • Thinking their healthcare provider seemed rushed.
  • Not feeling confident that they knew what they were talking about.

To improve the quality of maternity care:

  • Healthcare systems can support care that is respectful and considers the patient’s values, needs, and desires (i.e., patient-centered care) equally for all mothers.
  • Maternity care providers can ensure patients are engaged in their health care and feel heard and respected.
  • Communities can raise awareness of respectful care and promote health equity.
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