Black women are in crisis in the United States with a maternal mortality rate at the highest of any developed nation. Black women in the United States as it relates to maternal mortality rate is comparable to that of poor nations like Iran and Sri Lanka. Between 700 and 1,200 black women die each year from pregnancy and/or childbirth complications in the United States. Black women are 250% more likely to die from childbirth than white women. Black mothers who are normal weight are more likely to die during childbirth than white mother who are obese. Black women who received prenatal care in the first trimester are more likely to have complications during childbirth than white women who haven’t receive prenatal care (. Maternal mortality spans from the time of conception to up to a year postpartum or post-birth. This fact is essential in being able to understand the timeline and being able to recognize that a mother’s care needs. In this work I was able to study and interview both women who have had traumatic birthing experiences but also on the opposite side, care givers and the system of superiority that engulfs hospitals. Delving into racism and the huge effect that racism has on the Black woman, the generational stress she carries and what those affects have had on the physical structure of our DNA. Throughout this reading black women and African American women will be used interchangeable but have the same meaning for the purposes of this analysis. Racism has been engrained on the DNA of black women in this country and that inherently affects her maternal mortality, infant mortality and this orbital generational curse of maternal health.
African American women were not considered full citizens with the abilities of citizenship until the mid 1960’s, approximately 50 years ago. Even then there were still roadblocks to black women being able to vote without discrimination and institutionalized barriers. African American women in birth. There is a notion in our American culture and in birth culture that African American women have not made contributions to childbirth. In reality the contributions that black women have made include but not limited to Midwifery as when white women birthed their babies, they called their black slaves, for generations (Mason). This was instead of going to hospitals or having private Midwives. In hospitals at the time there were white male doctors that practiced barbaric methods such as restraints during contractions (Gaskin, 2003). For generations and generations Black women birthed their own babies with the help of their mothers. And in that time before it was normalized to go to the hospital and birth was a medical event that required medical interventions, we had a lesser percentage of women dying and babies dying in the birthing process then now with all of these technological and medicinal advancements.
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