Black Maternal Health Week: Speak Up Sis. The Importance Of Using Your Voice.

Being a millennial mom can feel overwhelming. You are going to find yourself at the center of all sorts of advice being thrown your way.

Photo Courtesy of Yeyo Photography

As I look back on my experience with pregnancy, one of the most intimidating experiences was going to my prenatal appointments. When I found out I was pregnant, I did not have health insurance. I signed up for Medicaid which meant some limited options on which doctors I would see and the care that would be provided to me. It meant that as soon as I walked into the doctor’s office, I was judged. I was young, single (because I was not married), and Black. I was a walking twenty two year old statistic. Even though my daughter’s father attended every doctor’s visit with me, we were well dressed, polite, and on time, it did not stop the judgemental statements and lack of care from our doctor.

It is important that you are prepared for this if you find yourself in this situation. It is not only just important during your prenatal appointments but also during your birth. If you find yourself afraid to express your concerns, you will find yourself unable to say when a certain jolt feels painful or you feel unusually exhausted. 

What You Need To Know About The Black Maternal Health Rate

Photo Courtesy of Yeyo Photography

Black women are statistically more likely to receive sub par medical care and suffer from poorer health outcomes. This leads to higher death rates related to pregnancy and childbirth. Compared to White women, Black women are 2 to 6 times more likely to die during childbirth. The Black Maternal Morality Rate does not care if you are rich or poor. Powerful women like Serena Williams and Beyonce’ have spoken openly about complications and treatments they experienced during childbirth. While there is not any clear explanation as to why Black women die at a higher rate than their counterparts, many researchers have cited institutional racism, sexism, and at times, financial barriers to be a leading factor.

Photo Courtesy of Yeyo Photography

When a Black woman expresses discomfort, her words can be considered more of a rudimentary complaint rather than an actual concern. Colorism can also play a major role in this. Darker women are seen as more strong and tough whereas our lighter counterparts may seem more helpless and tender. This is not to put dark and light at opposing ends of the spectrum. As a Black woman, regardless of your complexion, you still face a higher chance of subpar treatment while pregnant. It is important to speak up. If you are able to, find a provider that understands your complications as a Black mother. Ask deep questions about their statistics as a birth doctor. Do not be afraid to ask the hard questions. 

  • Has your healthcare provider heard of Black Maternal Health? 
  • Does your healthcare provider take additional precautions to make sure they are actively listening to the concerns of their patients?
  •  Do you feel comfortable using your voice openly with your healthcare provider? 
  • What are their statistics in caring for Black patients?
  • What sort of aftercare does your healthcare provider offer for mothers once birth has commenced?

Find A Proper Advocate

Having a proper advocate during your pregnancy and birthing process can be a matter of life and death. Even if you feel up to speed during your pregnancy, you can still find yourself unable to properly advocate for your needs during birth. While your doctor hopefully respects your wishes, you will indeed be in a more vulnerable position during labor. Thankfully, you have many options when it comes to finding birth workers and with social media, it has become easier to find a birth worker that looks like you. Later in the book we will talk about your options for where and how to birth but for now, let’s focus on your options for advocacy.

Photo Courtesy of Yeyo Photography

Here are a few different types of advocates:

  • Your partner
  • Birth doula
  • Midwife

By properly preparing for your impending birth, you will greatly reduce the chances of any mishaps that could happen during labor. Remember this, speak up for yourself. Advocate for yourself. Have someone else advocate for you.