Racial Disparities in Emotional Well-Being during Pregnancy

Hartnett, C. S., Brantley, M.

In light of persistent racial disparities in maternal and child health, it is important to understand the dynamics shaping outcomes for black mothers. We examine racial patterns in women’s emotional well-being regarding pregnancy (i.e., women’s reported happiness to be pregnant), which has been shown to have health consequences. Using the 2002-2017 National Survey of Family Growth (N = 6,163 pregnancies ending in birth), we find that black women are less happy about their pregnancies than white women both for intended and mistimed pregnancies. The happiness gap in intended pregnancies is partially attributable to differences in economic strain and partner support. In addition, child gender shapes happiness differently by race: Black women who previously had sons are unhappier about current intended pregnancies than those who did not (with no difference for white women). We argue there are pregnancy- and parenthood-related stressors that disproportionately impact black women, with potential implications for mothers and children.

Topic(s): Well-being
Health Condition(s): Maternal health
Year Published: 2020
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