Alarmingly high and climbing rates of maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity, especially among Black and indigenous women, have drawn attention to disparities in patient experiences with maternal health care in recent years. Affecting all aspects of maternal care, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified these concerns, revealing as well as exacerbating inequities in mothers’ experiences.
Part of a larger series on maternal health equity, this brief draws on literature reviews and interviews with maternal care stakeholders to explore how the pandemic is contributing to inequitable patient and provider experiences with maternal health care during the prenatal, delivery, and postpartum periods. We also explore promising strategies providers, states, advocates, and communities could consider both during and after the pandemic to improve maternal outcomes and reduce inequities. Solutions that could be implemented immediately include fostering better connections with providers and support people throughout pregnancy, during labor, and after delivery; incorporating shared decisionmaking opportunities; and connecting mothers with social services in their communities. Other more long-term priorities include improving provider education and diversifying the perinatal workforce.