Women of colour and maternity…

Black women have a higher pain threshold than any other woman.

That statement doesn’t sound right does it.

No it doesn’t, because it is utter nonsense.

There are many problems with the maternity system around the world and all women are affected by it. However women of colour, and in particular black woman, are faced with extremely poor and frankly disgusting behaviour whilst in the maternity system.

Child birth mortality rates have decreased drastically over the past century. However black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from childbirth then any other race of woman in America alone. In Africa 250,000 women die every year. In the UK, black women are 5 times more likely to die from childbirth than white women.

“quality of prenatal delivery and postpartum care, as well as interaction between health-seeking behaviors and satisfaction with care may explain part of this difference” (American Medical Association, 1999, p. 1221)

One of the reasons this is happening is because of the absolutely racial bias when it comes to black people having a higher pain threshold than any other race.

Because of this black women are not given the correct, if any, medical care when they are in pain. Colourism then enters the mix and the darker her skin colour the less medical care she is given.

This all stems from the simple fact that racism is buried deep in the roots of medical care. Beliefs that continued from the slave owners, physicians and scholars who believed that black people had peculiar deformations i.e “a less sensitive nervous system”

These beliefs have stayed in the medical world and are extremely prevelant when it comes to maternity death.

Women are being ignored as they tell doctors that they are in pain. They are being side stepped when they scream that something is wrong. They are being overlooked when they pleed for help. Heads are turned away because they are simply, not seen.

How do we help? How can we improve childbirth for WOC? How do we try to decrease the rising death rates?

1. Knowledge.

Knowledge is power and providing WOC with accessible child education classes will give them enough information for them to make informed choices and know their rights.

2. Doulas and birth workers.

Providing the mothers with Doulas and birth workers will give them what they so desperately need. A voice. Having a doula support you and your birth choices can make a drastic difference to a mothers birth experience by reducing anxiety and medical interventions.

Pregnancy and birth should be a magical time for the mother as well as her family. And giving mothers the above will very slowly but surely reduce the amount of maternal deaths of WOC.

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