Nyomi Thompson is the Policy and Advocacy Manager at I Be Black Girl and focuses on uplifting birth justice and positive Black maternal health outcomes. She’s a Nebraska transplant, but has grown to love the state, and strives to improve the lives of the Black community throughout the state. Thompson testified in support of LB75 which would allow review of severe maternal morbidity in Nebraska with the goal of improving birth outcomes. LB75 was advanced from committee and is on the first round of debate in the Nebraska Legislature.
I Be Black Girl serves as a collective for Black women, femmes and girls to actualize their full potential to authentically be, through autonomy, abundance and liberation. I testified in support of LB75 because adequate data collection will reveal health disparities yielding proper solutions to the maternal health crisis imposed upon the Black community.
Black community is more likely to experience birthing incidents
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, severe maternal morbidity is defined as “unexpected outcomes of labor and delivery that result in significant short- or long-term consequences to the health of a birthing person,” which is different from a birthing person’s experience resulting in death. In addition to being two to four times more likely to die from childbirth than white birthing folks, Black birthing folks are also two times more likely to experience severe maternal morbidity. This is due to the already existing health disparities, such as increased likelihood of chronic illness, access to health care, and inadequate care, that are exacerbated during pregnancy. Data collection is the sole reason I am able to relay those figures, providing an understanding of the gravity of severe maternal morbidity.
Severe maternal morbidity goes further than birth outcomes—it carries into systemic oppressions, racism, inaccessible health care and other social determinants of health. Such a complex issue with several factors will require an adequate amount of resources to address. To efficiently distribute our resources and funds, which we must acknowledge are limited, we need to know root causes of disparities and areas of improvement.
More information needed to improve care
Equitable, evidence-based intervention can only begin when there is a holistic understanding of the problem. Unless measured and documented, disparities in severe maternal morbidity outcomes can go unnoticed, even when the intent is to improve these outcomes. To effectively improve patient care, reproductive health care organizations and administration need to know what disparities exist, who is experiencing these disparities and why these disparities are happening.
There is a benefit to all Nebraskans when people are able to contribute to society after giving birth, and benefits to family well-being when the parent is physically and emotionally able to raise their child. This cannot happen without being aware of all possible consequences of birth and the proper allocation of resources. We can and must improve the depth of our data collection to make Nebraska a safe place for birth and families to thrive.
Why Nebraska needs additional data for an accurate picture of maternal health
Read more about LB75 and FFN’s other legislative priorities:
1 Canty L. The lived experience of severe maternal morbidity among Black women. Nurs Inq. 2022 Jan;29(1):e12466. doi: 10.1111/nin.12466. Epub 2021 Oct 11. PMID: 34636106.