Motherhood is a special time for any expectant parent. However, for Black mothers the worry of serious health risks, complications during pregnancy, and death is more fact than fiction.
The numbers of Black women that face complications during pregnancy are alarming. According to the CDC, Black women are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than Caucasian women; however, in NYC those statistics are even higher.
“In New York City [Black women] are twelve times more likely” to die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, St. Barnabas Hospital nurse and midwife Yael Offer said in an interview with New York’s News 12. Offer states that access to quality healthcare is a challenge for many Black mothers but she also argues that the high maternal mortality rate can also be attributed to racism. “We see that the causes of this huge disparity is due to institutionalized racism and discrimination that affect all women of color but especially Black women.”
In 2017, 200 stories were collected by NPR and ProPublica from Black women who stated that they felt devalued by healthcare professionals upon visits and more regularly than not, felt that their concerns were brushed aside and even ignored. In New York, Black women who live in economically challenged areas such as Brownsvile, East New York, and South Bronx are among those that have some of the highest maternal death rates.
“The conditions of white women improve up the socioeconomic ladder. Black women don’t have that improvement,” Offer explained. While there are many challenges to being an expectant Black woman, self-advocacy can truly be the difference between life and death.
Speak up and out, your life and that of your baby depends upon it!