HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – Today is the first day of Black Maternal Health Week. The week is dedicated to improving the pregnancy and birthing experience for Black mothers, and Black people who birth.

The CDC says Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues compared to White women. In 2021, the maternal death rate for Black women was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births. That’s almost three times the rate for White women.

The Department of Labor reports that implicit bias is an issue within the healthcare system that contributes to Black maternal deaths.

Zeriah Davis is the founder of The Birth Sista Foundation and says a doula helps support and advocate for the mothers. She says it’s often that Black mothers aren’t listened to by doctors when they voice their pregnancy concerns.

“It’s scary to constantly see on the news people who look like me dying from things that are preventable. Preeclampsia if we were listening to her or even looking at her to see there’s swelling,” Davis says. “It’s really crazy that we as Black women have to push so hard just to catch a break in society especially during pregnancy and into birth.”

Davis also shares an emotional message to healthcare providers.

“We want to come home with a healthy baby and a healthy body. It’s important that when you see a person of color a Black woman, come into your office a black person come into your office that you give them the time to be heard,” Davis says. “And then the next step is actually doing something about what you heard and not just giving a quick fix to what can be a life-ending problem.”

Black Maternal Week takes place now until Monday.