Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



My multi-method three-paper dissertation provides a better understanding of the relationship between maternal racial identity, obstetric outcomes, and gestational experiences. Using birth certificate data from the 2016 U.S. National Vital Statistics System and binary logistic regression models, in the first paper I explore heterogeneity in severe maternal morbidity (SMM) by maternal race, maternal education, and maternal age. To complement the first paper, in the second paper I allow 35 Black and White women/birthing people to describe pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood in their own words. I situate the Covid-19 pandemic as a unique cultural backdrop in this qualitative paper to explore how racial self-knowledge shaped patient-provider interactions. Because I exclude women who had a pregnancy loss from the qualitative paper, for the third paper I focus on the relationship between frequency of pregnancy loss and self-rated health. I use linear regression and panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997-2019) to investigate how pregnancy loss frequency impacts health, how the effect of pregnancy loss on health varies between Black and White women, and whether social context explains the difference in the pregnancy loss-health relationship for Black and White women. Collectively, the three papers in my dissertation make several notable contributions. Both methodologically and theoretically innovative, my dissertation is unique for the ways I: 1) Use a reproductive life course perspective to study pregnancy and birth; 2) Expose new forms of reproductive oppression in pregnant peoples’ experiences of risk, racial bias, and pregnancy loss; and 3) Center social policy initiatives that address persistent reproductive inequities. Motivated by a reproductive justice framework, my dissertation is a response to the health inequities plaguing Black mothers and a call to action to social scientists and medical experts who must address the harmful implications of racism.



Committee Chair

Rackin, Heather M.