Home / News Motherly’s State of Motherhood report: Black mothering in America This special report sheds light on the experiences of Black moms in the US in an effort to bring attention to the Black maternal health crisis. By Motherly February 14, 2023 Sweenshots & Shaymone/Stocksy In This Article Heading the household Balancing work and family Childcare Self care and health care Parenting and sex-life balance Mothering as a Black woman in America has unique and well-documented challenges—Black moms are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from childbirth than white women—due in large part to systemic and institutional racism. That statistic becomes even more staggering with the CDC’s recent discovery that 84% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. The stark disparity in maternal health is a societal problem requiring broad policy solutions, but it is vital that we center Black mothers in the conversation. At Motherly, we believe in the importance of centering Black mothers and their experiences at the forefront of systemic change to deconstruct racial biases. In this special 2022 State of Motherhood report on Black Mothering in America, we highlight key comparisons between the attitudes and experiences of Black moms in the US as compared to their white counterparts. We share this report to empower Black mothers and their allies with data to bring widespread attention to the Black maternal health crisis and the wide-reaching effects it has on the Black community. Through this report, we seek to elevate and amplify the voices of Black mothers in America. Below are our key findings. Heading the household Black mothers are more likely to be the head of household, but single motherhood is not synonymous with struggle Black moms are 20% less likely than their white counterparts to have a partner to share the load. The gap is more apparent for older Black moms as the statistics among younger Gen Z/Millennial moms show similar rates of partnership (96% among younger white moms and 87% among younger Black moms). While it is true that of the 8 million single-mother-led families in the US, about a third are living in poverty, jobless and food-insecure, according to 2019 statistics, single moms are not synonymous with struggle. As Ashely Simpo shared with Motherly, “the long-standing history of shaming single moms is steeped in patriarchy and government failure, not reality.” Single mothers, Black or otherwise, do not inherently struggle alone. Perhaps it’s time to recognize society’s role in failing them because it is rigidly built to fit a different family model. Related: Single moms are not synonymous with struggle Balancing work and family Combining a career and motherhood is both “empowering” and “frustrating” for Black moms When asked to describe their mentality around combining a career and motherhood under their current circumstances, younger Black moms are more likely to be “optimistic” and feel “empowered” than their white counterparts. They are also 6% less likely to feel “burnt out”. In contrast, Black moms of the Gen X and older generations are 40% more likely than their white counterparts to choose the word “frustration.” And, of note, the prevailing feeling of moms—across age and race demographics—is frustration and burnout. “Make no mistake about it—the motherhood penalty is wreaking havoc on Black women. From pausing career plans to frustration at work and home, The State of Motherhood Report: Black Mothering in America illustrates how little of a chance these women have of accelerating their careers. These women don’t have time to worry about a glass ceiling. Black moms walk daily on glass floors without support, susceptible to stress cracks.” Christine Michel Carter, Award-Winning Advocate for Working Mothers Childcare Finding reliable and affordable childcare is a pain point for Black moms Negative emotions surrounding combining work and children come into focus examining struggles with childcare. The majority of all moms surveyed are working (81%) but 83% of white moms report depending on outside childcare versus 66% of Black moms. And, satisfaction with their childcare situations are quite different. Specifically, Black moms who depend on outside childcare are not getting as many hours of coverage as white moms. Taking 30 hours as the baseline of childcare needed to support full-time work, 57% of white moms are getting this level of coverage compared to 44% of Black moms. The gap is bigger among younger Gen Z and Millennial moms at 61% for white moms compared to 45% for Black moms. And, among those getting outside childcare, Black moms are less satisfied than white moms, with 34% reporting they are dissatisfied with the care they have compared to 26% of white moms. This split is similar across moms of all generations surveyed. While cost (58%) is the number one reason why any mom is unhappy with outside childcare; Black moms are much more likely to also cite lack of reliability (30% compared to only 19% among white moms). Black mothers are not alone in this struggle — finding affordable and reliable childcare is a significant burden for many families. The average childcare cost for one child can take up 9% to 36% of a family’s income, and 50% of Americans live in a childcare desert—illuminating the need for universal childcare. As Motherly reported, a successful national childcare program existed once before. Why not again? For those moms who are the primary caregiver, we also see dramatic differences in satisfaction with their childcare situation. While 53% of white moms are satisfied with how they or their partner are able to handle childcare, only 40% of Black moms are. Finally, the financial stress of childcare is more evident among Black moms, with 36% reporting that paying for childcare “often” or “always” causes financial stress, compared to 29% among white moms. Related: The pandemic cracked open the U.S. childcare crisis. Here’s what could help make it better Self care and health care Black moms report getting less sleep Looking across a range of measures, Black moms report having less time to take care of themselves; especially when it comes to sleep. While overall only 61% of moms report getting at least 6 hours of sleep, this drops to 48% among Black moms. This disparity is concerning because as Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble shared with Motherly, “in this moment (and always), it’s important to say Black maternal mental health matters—because as I tell my patients, “as mama goes, so goes the family.” Generationally, we see the evidence of the often-negative relationship between the US healthcare system and people of color, particularly among older Black moms. As Dr. James Collins of Northwestern University shared, “equitable health care is a right, not a privilege.” Millennial and Gen Z Black moms are more likely to breastfeed than the previous generation But some level of trust may be restored, as the survey shows that younger Black moms are just as likely as white moms to turn to doctors (44% and 48% respectively) when seeking out medical information, in contrast to 20% of older Black moms. Aligned, younger Black moms are as likely as their white counterparts to breastfeed, whereas only a third of Gen X Black moms report having breastfed, compared to 85% of white Gen X moms. Mistrust in health care can be somewhat assuaged by having a provider who looks like you. As Motherly reported, evidence shows that when cared for by Black midwives, Black mothers are more likely to feel satisfied with their care. Creating opportunities to train more Black midwives and doctors—and working to better connect Black families with Black birth providers—is just one part of the solution in reducing maternal mortality rates. “To combat the stark reality of what maternal health looks like for Black mothers, we must support the community-based organizations that support Black pregnant mothers.” Tina Sherman, Senior Campaign Director for Maternal Justice at MomsRising Related: Giving birth shouldn’t be a death sentence, but for Black moms, this is the reality Parenting and sex-life balance Money is most likely to be the biggest relationship tension among Black moms of all generations Finally, the data show interesting cultural and age shifts around parent-related relationship tensions. Parental balancing and sex life are more a struggle for young moms overall and white moms in particular. Money is more present as a pressure for young Black moms (16%) compared to young white moms (10%), but money dominates as the big relationship pressure among older Black moms (69%). Meanwhile for white moms, parenting issues grow more tense throughout the years from 15% among younger generations to 22% among older generations. View the PDF version of this report. METHODOLOGY STATEMENT Motherly designed and administered this survey which was completed by more than 17,000 mothers through Motherly subscribers list, social media and partner channels in 2022. Within the sample, 8,804 respondents aged 18-41 were weighted to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on available US Census data. Edge Research weighted and analyzed the data, providing insights to trends and key findings reported here. Sample sizes are listed below.