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No, really I don’t want to die from being pregnant. Thinking these words sound crazy and writing them seems even more far fetched. Pregnancy and childbirth should be a joyous time in any women’s life. The fear of dying should not be so prevalent when you announce that you’re expecting.

I don’t want to die from being black and pregnant! A thought that has crossed my mind to many times in the last 9 months. We are literally nearing our due date and it’s all I can think about. Its also, a statement that I didn’t think I would ever make. But, the health disparities are real when it comes to black women and the public health care system.

But, when your a black woman these are just facts that you have to deal with. When I had my first daughter at the age of 20 I didn’t think anything of it. I truly wasn’t aware of all the information around me. Honestly, I’m not sure that I would have taken the information in. I’d seen women go through pregnancy countless times and cross the threshold.

My Personal Fears

Now, a 34-year-old woman I can’t help but think I’ve tested the water more than a few times. I’ve been able to beat the statistics, seeing that this is my sixth pregnancy. My anxiety level is at an all-time high. I can’t wait to have this baby outside of my body. Not just so I can hold her and love her but because of the fear of the unknown. It’s crippling to think about, I can sit in my mind and go over scenarios and cry over them each time.

The fear is rendering me weak to the battlefield of my own mind for positive thoughts and happy vibes. I’ve been trying to discuss the thoughts that I’m having but most people just dismiss my fear, saying things like ” girl, don’t worry about that”! In the black community, we respond to any kind of mental health issue with ” I’ll pray for you”.

While prayers and positive thoughts are always appreciated it can also be seen as not acknowledging the legitimacy of someone’s feelings.

I’ve been able to maneuver thought the health care system, but how? The statistics helped me educate myself, and I had other women tell me their stories so I can be well informed. An even better question is why, why is the rate of African American women and babies dying during childbirth not changing dramatically?

(You can read more about my journey in mothering: The Broken Mom A Raw Letter To My Daughters )

Mother with black daughters
I have to live for them!

Let’s Talk Stats For A Second:

According to National

Black mothers are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women.

Black mothers are more likely to experience preventable maternal death compared with white women

Black mothers heightened risk of pregnancy-related death spans income and education levels

Black-serving hospitals have higher rates of maternal complications than other hospitals. They also perform worse on 12 of 15 birth outcomes, including elective deliveries, non-elective cesarean births, and maternal mortality

Living With The Statistics

These stats are astonishing to me, especially seeing we live in one of the most medically progressive countries in the world.

Every day of my pregnancy I worry I’m not going to make it across the threshold. Not because I’m not healthy, not because I didn’t go to each and every prenatal visit but because I’m black. Let that sink in for just a second.

I can personally do everything in my power to to take care of myself, and still have a preventable complication that keeps me from my family. That one fact sacares me more then anything.

Tips On How To Maneuver The Medical Field:

  1. Be Your Own Advocate: Make sure you are asking questions, alllll your questions. If you are presented with something that you don’t understand ask the doctor to explain in lamen terms. Don’t just take the doctor at their word. You, know you better than anybody and have the right to ask questions.
  2. Have A Support System: Have loved ones in your corner that will advocate for you in case of emergency. This could be a midwife or a doula or of course a family member or spouse.
  3. Research: Before seeing your new OB ask around, other moms who have had babies in your area. Ask them about their experience and what doctor they used. This will aid in your decision making.
  4. Make A list: Write down a list of attributes that you would like your doctor to have. For example, male, female, holistic, or even time in the field. The internet gives you most of this info.
  5. If You Don’t Vibe, Don’t Stay: If you meet an OB and you don’t like how they make you feel. SWITCH! You are not stuck! Do it early, you want to find your OB as early as possible.

We Can Improve Black Maternal Health Together 

Sis, we can help improve black maternal health by becoming more knowledgeable on the subject and by asking more questions. We don’t have to die from pregnancy our reproductive health matters and pregnancy-related complications can be avoided.

Let’s take care of each other. Share stories of both the good and the bad about birth and motherhood. We can collectively support each other no matter how far away.

This includes mental health subjects like Antenatal depression, postpartum, depression, anxiety, and the host of emotions that come when dealing with pregnancy and motherhood.

All The Things For You:

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: Free Printable 6 Questions To Ask Your New OB

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The All Purpose Woman