It’s Black Maternal Health week, which is an incredibly important opportunity to inform Black women of the harsh realities of pregnancy and childbirth in the United States, and to equip us with the resources to protect ourselves and our families. Launched by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance in 2018, Black Maternal Health Week is a time to deepen the national conversation around Black Maternal Health.
FACT: The United States is the only wealthy country in which rates of illness and death during pregnancy are on the rise. The rates of maternal mortality and morbidity among Black women are especially alarming. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.
As such, deciding to start a family or even finding out you’re pregnant can actually be a source of anxiety or fear for many Black women and their partners. The complicated birth stories of prominent women like Beyonce, who experienced pre-eclampsia while pregnant resulting in an emergency c-section with her twin babies, and Serena Williams, who had to fight for her life after her doctors didn’t believe she had a potentially life-threatening blood clot in her lungs, despite her insistence, greatly contribute to many women’s concerns because we see just how exposed we are as Black women.
Growing up in a family of doctors, I had no problem always feeling taken care of. By the time I was pregnant with my first child, I lived thousands of miles away from all of my family MDs. Honestly, I didn’t even know about the Black Maternal Health Crisis. I just knew I didn’t trust a doctor I wasn’t related to, and that there may be a ton of decisions to make in childbirth. I pursued midwives because I’d read that they can do many of the same things as doctors but they spend significantly more time with patients, whereas visiting a doctor usually means spending most of your time with the nurse and a few minutes with the doctor. I also knew that doctors have a tendency to offer drugs and surgery to assist in childbirth and midwives place an emphasis on non-medicinal techniques for pain management. I was also fortunate enough to have friends who had experiences with midwives and doulas and home births, in addition to hospital births so what I knew for sure was that I had options. I started Googling to figure out the best care for me and my baby and I’m so glad I did. —BlackLove.com Editor in Chief Codie Elaine Oliver
At a time when it’s vitally important to maintain a space of peace, tranquility, and optimism, expecting moms need to know that being informed on your rights and resources is one way to set yourself up for the best possible pregnancy, which includes knowing that, when it comes to your prenatal care, there are choices beyond an Obstetrician (OB).