***Trigger Warning: Please be advised, this post may be difficult for those that have experienced child-loss, difficult delivery, or lost a loved one during child birth***
While much of the world watches how things are going to play out with the Ahmaud Arbery case, another topic weighs heavily on my mind. Our black women are still out here suffering and many do not know that something that brings us great joy can also end us due to the fact that our concerns are not being listened to. I’m speaking on childbirth. Did you know that black women are three to four times as likely to die during childbirth than any other race? This issue has been going on for years and many seem to overlook it.
Many will ask why I single out black women as an importance. My answer is simple, I am a black woman and the numbers show the need for a greater concern. That does not diminish the deaths of any other race, but I can’t speak on any other race. I will support anyone who does, but once again I do not have experience as a different race. I know what it is like being a black woman, giving birth, almost dying due to not being listened to, and I now have a voice to speak on it at the time.
Roeder, A. (2018, December 21). America is Failing its Black Mothers. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/magazine/magazine_article/america-is-failing-its-black-mothers/
I remember in my second pregnancy; I was told I had partial placenta previa. For those of you who do not know, this is when the placenta either partially or completely covers the cervix. I found this out when I started to experience pains early on that didn’t feel like growing pains. It took many trips to the doctor informing them that something was wrong before they finally listened to my concerns and discovered that was the cause. Moving on in my pregnancy, the pain seemed to get worse with each day, but I started dreading going to the doctor because with each visit my concern fell on deaf ears. Finally, two weeks before I delivered, I made three trips to the doctor still with nothing being done.
At 26 weeks, I gave up and just started to try to move as less as possible. That’s pretty hard when you have a toddler and a husband in the military, but I tried. I remember going to sleep one night and waking up in excruciating pain. I quietly went to the bathroom so that I wouldn’t disturb my husband who had to be up early. Attempting to use the bathroom I realized that I needed help. As I called for my husband the most severe pain shot through me, and blood filled the toilet. Immediately I thought my baby was gone. With the aid of my family I was able to get back to the bed to wait on the ambulance. By the time they got there, that too was soaked in blood.
At the hospital it was revealed that I had a placenta abruption which led to me going into preterm labor. My child survived but had to be sent an hour away to a NICU. I on the other hand suffered severe blood loss. All this time and I can’t help but to wonder if something could’ve been done earlier if I had just been listened too when I expressed something was wrong. How many countless others have experienced the same experience that didn’t survive to tell the tale? Serena Williams and Beyonce were one of the lucky ones that had the status and finances to make doctors listen to them and give them extra care, but what about the ones that do not. Judge Hatchett’s daughter in law, Kira Johnson passed away after childbirth. Despite expressing concern numerous times and being ignored, she succumbed to internal bleeding that probably could’ve been stopped if someone had just taken the time to listen.
Now there are many things that effect black mothers and put them at risk. Poor healthcare, lack of insurance, lack of knowledge is among those things. But what about the issue that is simply beyond our control? What about the many that are victims of someone else’s negligence or failure to take them seriously? Who will be their voice? How do we fix this issue?
Rabin, R. C. (2019, May 7). Huge Racial Disparities Found in Deaths Linked to Pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/07/health/pregnancy-deaths-.html