Summerville, SC – The U.S. still has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world. Nationally, Black women are nearly three times as likely to die from a maternal cause as white women. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that in 2020, the maternal mortality rate for Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, while the same rate for white women was 19.1.

“The need for individualized, respectful and above all, equitable care is paramount when it comes to the health and safety of our moms and babies,” said OB/GYN Brittany Stofko, DO. “We build trust with our patients through open communication and providing timely, quality care to everyone. We listen, address concerns, and work hard to make them feel heard, understood, and cared for during their visits and throughout their care,” she adds.

Experts encourage pregnant Black women to understand the urgent maternal warning signs and the need to seek medical attention right away because there are some other health issues that tend to be more severe in Black women.

For example, pre-eclampsia affects up to 15% of pregnancies worldwide, but when Black women have pre-eclampsia it often presents earlier and is more likely to be severe. “It’s important to know your risk factors and listen to your body,” adds OB/GYN Jennifer Risinger, MD. “We tell our patients if they are experiencing anything out of the ordinary like severe headaches, vision changes, shortness of breath or heart palpitations to call us immediately.”

The postpartum period is critically important. Up to 45 percent of maternal deaths happen in the weeks after delivery, a time where people are generally more removed from medical care and their regular support systems. It’s also important to note that postpartum medically and physiologically — is at least the entire year after birth, as this is how long the physical changes of pregnancy persist.

And it’s important to note that a postpartum plan with planned check-ins with their provider is key for all women, but especially women of color. “I sit down with my patients and we talk about how to best prepare for their postpartum experience and plan regular check ups to address any pre-existing risk factors or health issues that arose during pregnancy like gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia,” says OB/GYN Dr. Jacquline Hayles-Patterson.

Drs. Stofko, Risinger and Hayles-Patterson will be hosting a FREE virtual seminar on Tuesday, April 11th at 12pm to share tips for black women who are pregnant or postpartum on what they can do to ensure their health and the health of their babies. Women can tune in by visiting

For more information about our maternity care or to schedule a prenatal tour through our women’s & children’s unit, visit the Summerville Medical Center website or call (843) 797-3463.