To synthesize the current body of evidence regarding the perinatal experiences of Black women.
The databases PubMed, the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and Scopus were searched with the search terms “African American” (in PubMed), “Black” (in Scopus), or “Black” OR “African American” (in CINAHL) AND “pregnancy” AND “experiences.”
Searches yielded 266 articles published between January 2015 and May 2021. After initial screening, 68 articles were assessed for eligibility, yielding 23 studies that met the inclusion criteria of this review.
Studies were reviewed for the perinatal experiences of Black women. Nonresearch articles, systematic reviews, and instrument development articles were removed. Also excluded were articles with a focus on adolescent pregnancy, breastfeeding experiences, and those outside of the perinatal time frame.
Analysis showed that Black women continue to report negative experiences in perinatal care and that these negative experiences spanned various sociodemographic characteristics. Although some Black women described positive interactions, many more expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of education, resources, and continuity in care, as well as poor communication. Additionally, experiences of racism and biases in care, mistrust in the health care system, and doubts of the efficacy or necessity of medical treatments exist.
Negative perinatal care experiences and dissatisfaction among Black women remain common. Although Black women desire more holistic, naturalistic, and empowering care, Black women first want safe, respectful care and a health care team that removes biases and racism from its system. More research is needed that includes the voices of Black women to understand these experiences and to develop interventions to improve the perinatal care experience. Nurses and other health care providers providing care in the perinatal period must also listen to, trust, and respect Black women.