By: Shanell Holback
Studies performed by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shown that the childbirth mortality rate of Black women is two to three times higher than white women.
Photo Courtesy of cdc.gov
In the medical field, Black people often suffer from unequal treatment due to medical myths that exist about the Black community. A dangerous myth in the medical field is that Black people lie about the pain they are experiencing. It’s because of this, Black people are undertreated for pain and are not believed by their doctors when they complain of serious medical issues.
This myth has a huge impact on the lives of pregnant Black women. Studies performed by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shown that the childbirth mortality rate of Black women is two to three times higher than white women. In 2017, Black American tennis player Serena Williams almost died after giving birth to her daughter as her cries for help fell on deaf ears.
Despite having a history of blood clots, coughing uncontrollably, and passing out after giving birth via c-section, Williams was dismissed when she mentioned the excruciating pain in her legs could be a sign of blood clots returning.
Although Williams eventually got the tests, medication, and surgeries that saved her life, the same could not be said for 26-year-old Sha-Asia Washington.
In July 2020, Washington, a Brooklyn, New York resident, went to the Woodhull Medical Center for a stress test and was kept for observation due to having high blood pressure. Instead of giving Washington medication to treat her blood pressure, doctors insisted on inducing her labor since she was a few days past her due date. After receiving an epidural, Washington’s heart rate began to drop. Unfortunately, Washington suffered a cardiac arrest moments later and was given an emergency C-section. She never got the chance to meet her baby Khloe. There is currently an ongoing investigation into the matter.
Stories like these are common and match the childbirth mortality of Black woman statistics provided by the CDC. If medical myths are not the main reason Black women are unfairly treated, they absolutely play a major role.