It Ain’t All Roses: Birthin Babies while Black

I’m officially Beyoncé…

Well ok not really but you gotta admit that pic is hilarious! But what I’m gonna talk about is no laughing matter, it’s serious and we have got to start casting more light on it…

” I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month. My health and my babies’ health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section.” -Beyoncé in September 2018 Vogue

Maybe I am officially Beyoncé… because I gained 100… yes, I said that correctly, ok maybe 96, pounds during pregnancy. I was so swollen my feet looked like loaves of bread and I didn’t have cankles, I had thankles, just one big ass thigh! I was a chicken dinner! I too had toxemia, so bad that my liver failed and I went into hepatic shock and a coma. I was hospitalized for over a month, and didn’t officially hold my son, well that I can recall anyway, until he was more than a month old. This was over ten years before Serena and Beyoncé made their pregnancy scares public, and over ten years before these stories about Black Women and childbirth were talked about at large. I thought my case was unique… turns out, like many of the concerns of Black Women, it just wasn’t a big deal to the medical community yet.

But we can change that…

Pregnancy was great for me until I reached my 7th month. Up until then I was rocking my loose fit size 10 jeans, pulling them a bit under my growing belly. I had no stretch marks, and had gained only about 18 pounds. Life was good. I was high risk because of a pre-existing liver disease, but for months I showed no signs of toxemia or preeclampsia, high blood pressure brought on by pregnancy. And literally, overnight, that changed.

From roses to rancid…

From sugar to shit…

According to the CDC, while generally only 3.4 women suffer from toxemia during pregnancy, and 700 die from its complications yearly, Black Women are three times as likely to suffer from these childbirth related issues. Conversely, Asian and Hispanic women seem to have an ever lesser chance of developing toxemia than White women. (1) Yet, no one seems to know why. It’s been one big mystery why pregnant Black Women looked like the boy in the bubble, compared to those cute baby bumps. Perhaps it is linked to the lack of research on the subject!

In a 2004, the Journal of the American Heart Association published a study that showed that women with preeclampsia had decreased levels of folic acid and high levels of homocysteine, which is linked to heart disease, but these levels were lowest and highest in Black Women. (2) The study suggested that since high levels of homocysteine were related to low folic acid, B6, and B12, that these supplements could potentially lower the risk of preeclampsia amongst all women, particularly African-Americans. Who knew?

Another study by ProPublica, in 2016, entitled Lost Mothers spoke with Black Women intergenerationally about pregnancy complications to try to prevent maternal complications and death. Out of the many complications a woman can face, it was found Black Women suffer disproportionately from postpartum hemorrhage, fibroids, preeclampsia, uterine rupture, coronary artery dissection, and maternal heart failure. (3) All of these illnesses boast a much higher mortality rate than other complications. When searching for other studies on these pregnancy related illnesses in Black Women, there were few to find.

It is essential that Black Women share our stories, and that if no one else will, Black Physicians and medical researchers focus on these maternal health concerns in our community. Central Brooklyn Hospital, featured in the Pro Publica study has a new initiative to reduce maternal complications in women of color. Hopefully other hospitals and medical professionals will follow suit. It is imperative to the health of mothers and children that research into how to prevent and treat these issues are brought to light.

Just on a human level, it is important that babies grow up with their mothers, and research into their mother’s potential mortality from childbirth is necessary and worth every dime it costs. The powers that be can’t claim to be pro-life and not simultaneously be pro- maternal health, pro-mother, or pro-Black mother. The continuance of the systematic ignorance of people of color in medicine must be taken to task. If we can study the effects of viagra, surely we can study the complications of childbirth.

It shouldn’t take Beyoncé or Serena or any public figure to talk about something that affects 7% of Black mothers to make it important to the public at large. If we only consider things when a celebrity brings them to light, we are neglecting 99% of the population. Furthermore, we are failing these women by failing to consider their medical concerns … and failing Black children by neglecting their mothers.

So, let’s all be Beyoncé…

Note: Fellas be Jay-Z, but not while drinking Lemonade with Becky, and never be Eric Benet!

……

References

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171100/#__ffn_sectitle

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4764298/

3. https://www.propublica.org/series/lost-mothers/p2

2 comments

  1. Denitra · August 8, 2018

    Wow. This post sheds so much light on a subject that, I’m assuming , hardly ever gets considered…at least not to this extent. I know personally that people don’t consider the risks that are involved in pregnancy and child birth. Thank you for this and thank you for doing your part in sharing necessary information. Because of this post, I’m going to delve a little deeper and do some research on my own…thank you.

    Like

    • kd · August 8, 2018

      Thank you and please do! If you find any interesting info please feel free to share here!
      ❤️

      Like

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