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Pregnancy & Prejudice: Why Are Black Women Dying?

May 22, 2024

May 22, 2024

In a recent episode of Successful Black Parenting’s podcast, BACKtalk, host Janice Robinson-Celeste dives into the critical issue of maternal health for Black women. The episode, titled “Pregnancy & Prejudice: Why Are Black Women Dying?” addresses the alarming disparities in maternal health outcomes, the challenges faced by Black pregnant women, and what can be done to ensure safer pregnancies.

Dr. Yamicia connor in a floral dress and white lab coat for backtalk podcast on why are black women dying graphic.

Black women die at almost three times the rate of white women in childbirth, and a staggering 80% of these deaths are preventable. Dr. Yamisha Connor, a Harvard-MIT-educated OBGYN, joins the discussion to shed light on these disparities. “Despite education and wealth, Black mothers and babies still have outcomes equal to the poorest white women,” says Dr. Connor. This troubling statistic underscores the pervasive issue of medical racism within the healthcare system.

The healthcare system often blames the victim, citing factors like lack of access to care or poverty as reasons for poor maternal outcomes. However, Dr. Connor emphasizes that these factors do not fully explain the disparities. “What drives these outcomes is medical racism,” she asserts. This includes biases in how Black women are treated and listened to during pregnancy and childbirth.

High-profile cases like those of Beyoncé and Serena Williams highlight the issue. Serena Williams had to demand attention from healthcare providers when she experienced a potentially life-threatening complication after childbirth. If a world-renowned athlete struggles to be heard, the situation for everyday Black women is even more dire.

“Black women die at almost three times the rate of white women in childbirth, and a staggering 80% of these deaths are preventable.”

Dr. Connor advises that Black women should never go to the hospital alone. “Having a support person is crucial, especially when you are in crisis and unable to advocate for yourself,” she explains. This support person can help communicate concerns and ensure that the patient receives the necessary attention.

Dr. Connor’s organization, Diosada, focuses on providing real-time patient support to ensure that standard care is met. This includes offering resources, education, and if necessary, legal interventions to protect patients’ rights.

Dr. Connor outlines essential prenatal tests and screenings that every pregnant woman should have. These include genetic testing, detailed fetal surveys, diabetes testing, and GBS screening. “Black women don’t need to do anything different; they just need to ensure they are receiving the care they should be,” she emphasizes.

Split screen of backtalk a dr. Yamicia connor with long braids and glasses with host, janice robinson-celeste about why are black women dying.

There are significant differences in care between big teaching hospitals and smaller rural hospitals. Smaller hospitals often lack the resources and specialist support that larger hospitals provide. Dr. Connor advises patients to ask their providers about their emergency protocols and to request transfers if necessary.

Dr. Connor does not recommend home births due to the potential for emergencies that require immediate medical intervention. However, birthing centers close to hospitals can be a safer alternative for those seeking a less medicalized birthing experience.

The reproductive landscape in the U.S. is becoming more dangerous due to restrictive abortion policies, making it essential for Black women to educate themselves and have a plan for potential complications. Dr. Connor advises talking to doctors about emergency plans and finding supportive healthcare providers.

Community support and policy changes are crucial for improving maternal health outcomes for Black women. Dr. Connor urges listeners to vote, support organizations working for equity, and educate themselves and others about maternal health issues.

The episode of Successful Black Parenting’s podcast highlights the urgent need to address the disparities in maternal health outcomes for Black women. By raising awareness, advocating for better care, and supporting policy changes, we can work towards a future where Black women receive the safe, respectful care they deserve.

A new episode of BACKtalk airs live every Thursday at 10 AM ET. Email us for advertising rates starting at $60 by visiting our website.

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