It's deplorable that across the world, black women disproportionately experience racism in the birth room, or at least once during their pregnancy. What makes it worse is that, while we want white women to acknowledge the fact that it's happening we need change to take place. We don't want white women to tell our story but to tell their story from a white woman's perspective.
In the birth industry, we have pockets of white women speaking on this topic for publicity. To ride the wave and it's out of order when real Black lives are being taken.
I'll put it out there right now. Being a black Muslim woman, coming from a mother who is half white and half Jamaican and from a father who is Nigerian, I've experienced racism like you wouldn't imagine it and it nearly cost me my life.
So let's take a look at Racism in the birth room.
There is no study that completely tells the right story. When you are cursed, disrespected and neglected because of the colour of your skin it is a feeling that hits home quickly and there is no other race that can tell this story better than black women.
A study done found between 2014 and 2016 the maternal death rate for white women was about 8 in 100' 000. But we can quickly see how this number becomes larger when we look at the maternal death rate for Asian women which is 15 in every 100 000 and the number quickly becomes shocking when we look at black women who's maternal death rate is 40 in every 100 000. Lilian Anekwe 2020
If that doesn't make you sit up, there are tools available online for women interested in having a VBAC which lowers your success rate if you click on the option stating you're an African-American or Hispanic woman. The VBAC success rate for African-American women or Hispanic women significantly decreases to around 50% as opposed to the success rate of non-African American or Hispanic women to around 80%-90%. Check it out for yourself here
In the united states of America, Black women have been under hardship as they are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women and 2x more likely to experience severe maternal morbidity Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018
We know the caesarean rates have rocketed out of control, past our wildest beliefs but have you thought about the number of black women who have their babies via caesarean deliveries. Not because they want to but because they were neglected in the birth room? Black women are more likely to have a c-section and have a failure of VBAC than white women but black women are more likely to try a trial of labor after a previous caesarean and are 40% less likely to have a uterine rupture. Cahill et al
That's not to say black women should not try for a VBAC, because I've seen many black women have a successful VBAC. I've had 2 caesareans and 3 VBA2C's and an amazing home-birth in 2018. I think black women need to really figure out where they will birth their babies, who will support them and understand this data cannot define our birth experiences. We know somethings can happen beyond our control, especially in the birth room, but we can stand strong and birth the way-our grandparents did in Africa or in the Caribbean. We can. We just have to believe in ourselves and really know what we want and fight at all costs, keep your integrity and your morals, and have your VBAC.
I wanted to cover this because there are many non-factual stories surfacing from women who don't know the struggles of black women during childbirth and it's important to let the story come from the mouth and the body and the eyes that experience, that cry through the pain of the experience and from the womb that harboured the fears of racial disparity because he who feels it knows it as opposed to second and stories just for a quick read or publicity.
Let me say it clearly before I end this post...
Black women in the Uk are 5x more likely to die in childbirth
Things have to change and while I know we should discuss this topic more, we need to create circles of women both white and black and create an alliance for change.
We must stop this abhorrent culture and look at each other as human beings, valuable life and not look at each other or judge each other because of the colour of one's skin..... When we die we will all go to the same place, in the ground and we will all be judged on what good we've done in this world. Our skin colour, wealth or stature will not follow us......
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