The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Black women die at 2–3 times the rate of white women, and the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is 2.5 times higher than their White counterparts. Maternal and child health programs, such as Healthy Start, are an important gateway to increasing awareness, education, and referral to perinatal care and mental health services. This paper explored mothers’ perceptions of the importance of health and healthcare during pregnancy and postpartum and their preferences for communication from a community-based service program, such as Healthy Start. Data were collected from four focus groups with 29 expectant or current mothers. Most participants (57.7%) identify as Black or African American. They age from 24 to 43 with a mean of 31.7. We analyzed the data using the thematic analysis approach. Themes that emerged supported an overall desire for inclusive, strength-based educational materials. Use of advocacy-based health educational materials, materials that show diverse and realistic images of mothers, peer-based education through testimonials, and health education materials that are easy to understand and apply to one’s own experience emerged as the broad theme from the focus groups.
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