First Do no harm: unless you’re a pregnant black woman.

It is evident that black women in the United States face more inequalities and injustices than many minority groups. Black women in the U.S. face these obstacles in all aspects of life, but many people may not know the injustices black women face during childbirth. 

When discussing childbirth survival rates, people say the wealthier you are, the more likely your baby is to survive. That’s what we all think, right? Well, that’s only the case for white people. If a rich white woman gives birth, the baby is more likely to survive than a poor white woman. A new study has shown that for black women, rich or poor, their babies have a lesser chance of surviving than both rich and poor white women. 

A National Bureau of  Economic Research study revealed this extreme inequality of how black women are treated during childbirth— regardless of their socioeconomic status. In fact, the most wealthy black mothers and their babies are twice as likely to die than the wealthiest white mothers and their babies. Out of 100,000 births, 350 babies born to the poorest white mothers die, while 653 babies born to the poorest black mothers die.

Image from New York Times article

Kimberly Seals-Allers was a graduate student at Columbia University when she gave birth to her first child. Kimberly said in an interview with CBS News, “I gave birth at a highly regarded hospital, but I walked out feeling disrespected, unseen, and traumatized.” Throughout her time in the hospital, she was not listened to and not taken seriously. Kimberly recalls that many of her questions were not answered about her c-section, and her baby was repeatedly given baby formula against her wishes. She believes this traumatizing hospital experience blurred the first few months of being a new mother. 

Kimberly is just one example of the millions of black women who have experienced unfair— and sometimes fatal— treatment during childbirth. Many factors play into these disparities, including variations in quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias. 

Black women are not listened to or taken as seriously as white women for no other reason than ingrained, systematic racism. I believe there needs to be more advocates for black women in hospitals and all other aspects of healthcare. I want to hear from my readers: What do you think is something that the U.S. healthcare systems can change to fight this issue of inequality? 

2 thoughts on “First Do no harm: unless you’re a pregnant black woman.

  1. I completely agree that there needs to be more advocates for black women in the healthcare system. I also think that there should be more diversity within the actual healthcare workers, such as hiring more black doctors to increase those voices in the work environment.


  2. This reminded me of when Serena Williams gave birth and awful they treated her. Even as a well-known celebrity, she wasn’t listened to and almost died giving birth. It’s so horrifying
    and we need change.


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