It has been a long time; apologies for my "leave of absence", I am back and this post was a personal one...first, context of the title...
About a week ago, I submitted an article to an online magazine that I am a contributing writer to; the article was on black women, pregnancy and their mortality rate, an issue that is impacting black women regardless of socio-economic status. There are were many points made that spoke to the need of recognizing that black women are either dealing with a slew of serious health issues or even death as it relates to pregnancy. I felt that the article was informative and a call to action; however upon reader feedback (which a majority was very positive) there was one; that one left my blood BOILING because clearly he did not read the article thoroughly to have at least a third of an understanding...
Here is the article, his comment and my response:
Mortality Rate on Black Women and Pregnancy: A Troubling Trend
Tennis legend Serena Williams and U.S. Olympic sprinter Tori Bowie have several things in common; first, the obvious is that both women are world-class and black athletes. Serena experienced a difficult pregnancy; she underwent a c-section, endured blot clots, and struggled with a pulmonary embolism; despite informing her medical practitioners, no one believed her; she almost lost her life.
Tori was eight months pregnant when on May 2nd, the police were called to conduct a wellness check at her home when she was not heard from for some days. When authorities reported to Tori's home, she was found dead; an autopsy revealed she was in active labor, possibly experiencing respiratory issues and eclampsia. Both were in high-risk pregnancies, yet one (fortunately, was able to have her baby).
In this day and age, it should not be this way...
Pregnancy and childbirth should be a joyful experience, but unfortunately, it can be life-threatening for black women in the United States. Despite advances in medical technology and healthcare access, black women have higher mortality rates than their white counterparts. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. This disparity is particularly alarming regarding maternal mortality, where black women are six times more likely to die than white women.
The reasons for this disparity are complex and multifaceted. One contributing factor is the prevalence of chronic conditions such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes among black women. These conditions can make pregnancy more difficult and increase the risk of complications. Additionally, black women are more likely to experience stress and discrimination, which can also negatively impact their health.
Another factor is the quality of care black women receive during pregnancy and childbirth. Studies have shown that black women are more likely to receive substandard care, including delays in appropriate medical treatment and inadequate pain management; this can lead to complications and even death. Serena was an anomaly; though considered "privileged" because of her notoriety and financial access, she had "quality" care, yet she was not believed when she voiced her concern about what was going on with her body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), black women are three to four times more die from pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts. Furthermore, black women are more likely to experience difficulties during pregnancy and childbirth, such as preeclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage, and blood clots. These conditions require swift and effective medical treatment, but black women may not always receive the necessary care.
The consequences of this disparity are devastating. Black women who survive pregnancy-related complications may experience long-term health effects, such as chronic pain, infertility, and depression. Children who lose their mothers are also at higher risk of poor health outcomes.
Urgent action is needed to address this troubling trend. Healthcare providers must be educated on black women's unique needs and experiences and provide culturally sensitive care; this includes addressing implicit bias and providing adequate pain management, delving into the issue of "weathering" when black women's bodies tend to age faster as a result of the chronic stress linked to racism, which over a life course can contribute to a problematic pregnancy. Additionally, policies must be implemented to address systemic racism and improve social determinants of health, such as access to healthy food and safe housing.
Policymakers, healthcare professionals, and community leaders are positioned to improve the healthcare quality for black women. The mortality rate of black women and pregnancy is a serious issue that requires immediate attention. The health and well-being of black women and their families are at stake, and we must work together to ensure that every woman has access to safe and high-quality care during pregnancy and childbirth.
The reader's feedback on the comment thread:
"More racism from either racists or ignorance. I’m not even sure anymore. My white former wife had three traumatic pregnancies. Here’s what I would recommend based on we learned having survived some real scares…pick hospitals and doctors that are at level 4 hospitals. It ain’t about racism, it’s about going to the best place for care. That starts with knowing what that is, not blaming white people. “To standardize a complete and integrated system of perinatal regionalization and risk-appropriate maternal care, this classification system establishes levels of maternal care that pertain to basic care (level I), specialty care (level II), subspecialty care (level III), and regional perinatal health care centers (level IV). “
Thank you for your comment, as I am open to dialogue; I have had two miscarriages and fibroid surgery, all this from care at "level 4 hospitals" I am a black woman, educated and economically stable. Yet, my care at the hospitals was subpar, and it was not until I had to make "noise" that I was heard. I feel for your ex-wife; pregnancy is not easy, as risks are involved regardless of race. However, there does exist a racial disparity between black and white women as well as an economic disparity. Historically black women have been underserved concerning health care; The history of Black women's access to health care and treatment by the U.S. medical establishment, particularly in gynecology, contributes to the present-day health disadvantages of Black women. Health inequality among Black women is rooted in slavery. White slaveholders viewed enslaved Black women as a means of economic gain, resulting in the abuse of Black women's bodies and disregarding their reproductive health. Black women were forced to procreate, with little or no self-agency and limited access to medical care; the development of gynecology as a medical specialty in the 1850s brought in a particularly dark period for the health of Black women. Before citing ignorance, know our historical background, leading to this current narrative because CLEARLY there are a number of factors at play here that feeds into YOUR ignorance and racism: More than likely you are a white man of privilege who has no concept of the real world, in addition to having NO CLUE on women’s health, let alone that of black women….
Stay in your lane….your audacity would be laughable had it not been such a heavy topic and you were capable of reading the article coherently.
As I said, the audacity....