Why Are So Many Black Women Still Dying In Childbirth?
Surprisingly, the systemic racism today now extends to the healthcare system- black maternal mortality, because black women aren’t just fighting to be heard and believed but are Black Mothers Dying In Childbirth.
In fact, study has shown that Black mothers in the U.S. are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications. And the big question is why are Black mothers at more risk of dying?
And according to a recent study from researchers at Oxford University, on the causes of maternal deaths, stillbirths and infant deaths, black women in Britain are five times more likely to die as a result of complications in pregnancy than white women.
Also, similar study carried out in the United States on racial disparities in its maternal deaths with black and indigenous Americans being two to three times as likely to die of pregnancy related causes.
So, the data shows what black women have known for decades; pregnancy is at best challenging and at worst may be fatal, because Black Mothers Dying In Childbirth.
And medical professionals are saying that the death rate can be explained by pre-existing conditions amongst black women such as high blood pressure, or the higher prevalence of complications such as pre-eclampsia.
Also, studies have shown the media uses “concern for children as a rhetorical tool to define poor and minority women as bad mothers,” and statistics show black children are overrepresented in the care system, making up 16 per cent of all looked-after children and young people.
And this is despite society being built on the care services of black women; 20 per cent of black African women work in the health and social care sector often in lower paid jobs that require longer shift patterns.
Interestingly, the problem isn’t exclusive to women’s experience of childbirth either: the RCOG has highlighted racial disparities within gynaecology services, including the late diagnosis of gynecological cancers and lower uptake of cervical screening amongst black women.
In fact, US academic, Dorthy Roberts in her book Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty describes how stereotypes of black motherhood persist, from “welfare queens”, who are presented as “immoral, neglectful, and domineering” to “hypersexual” women that are accused of “overbreeding”.
So, in the UK, the media has routinely linked households with single black mothers to increasing youth violence and London’s knife crime epidemic; with little regard for the other structural factors at play.
Similarly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are less likely to develop breast cancer but 40% more likely to die from it than their white counterparts.
And according to The Marmot Review’s February 2020 report, over the past ten years, health in the UK has been on the decline for the population at large, making life even more difficult for anyone trapped towards the bottom of the social hierarchy.
So it should come as no surprise that as health inequalities increase, so does the Black maternal mortality rate.
“Black women, like all women across races, have a very hard time being taken seriously about their own bodies, due to pervasive sexism,” Tina Sacks, an assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare and the author of Invisible Visits: Black Middle-Class Women in the American Healthcare System told Fortune, “when you compound that with racism, you have a particularly toxic mixture that Black women are facing.”