The unfortunate reality is that the Black community has been and continues to be marginalized, disadvantaged, and harmed. This can often be seen in our healthcare system, specifically for black mothers and babies. Change will unfortunately not happen overnight. However, we can do our part by educating ourselves on some of the issues that are currently affecting members of the BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and minority populations. We recognize that it is our job to educate ourselves and encourage you to do so as well.
Having said that, today we wanted to bring attention to how racism continues to be a threat to Black women’s maternal health. The CDC reported that pre-pandemic, Black women were 3 times more likely to die due to pregnancy-related causes than white women. Additionally, Black babies are 2 times more likely to pass away prior to their first birthday in comparison to white babies, regardless of the socio-economic class and education level of their mothers.
Why? This public health crisis doesn’t start at black maternal health, rather it permeates every part of the health care system. Black women are more likely to come into a pregnancy sicker than their white compatriots. Why? Because systemic and structural inequalities exist and affect Black women daily, making it harder for them to stay and/or get healthy. Black mothers are more likely to have a high-risk pregnancy because they are more likely to have a chronic illness such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Black women are continually facing inequities when trying to access primary care and are less likely to have early detection of a chronic issue or limited disease management. Black women are more likely to experience implicit bias in a doctor’s office, impacting the quality of care pre, during, and post-pregnancy. Add to this the financial implications and that is just scratching the surface regarding the issues faced when entering our health care system. Social determinants such as education, physical location, financial status all play a part in poor maternal health for Black women.
It should be noted that not all doctors are biased, nor do most set out to be biased towards a certain race. Individuals who have implicit bias may not be aware that they do. However, every individual should work on recognizing if they are experiencing implicit biases towards specific groups of individuals.
It can and will get better. However, change starts at an individual level and checking on yourself and your friends and families. Changing your mindset to understand that everyone is equal and deserves the same rights to QUALITY services and supports.
Be an ally. Do your research. The future can be bright, it can be inclusive and fair for all. But it starts with you.
Pippy Sips remains committed to social justice and improving breastfeeding/pumping outcomes for ALL women.