Recently, a news story broke about a black woman who gave birth in a “world-renowned” hospital in Los Angelos. After giving birth, her husband noticed blood in her catheter and notified to medical staff. After saying they would check it out immediately, it was seven hours before they ran a CT scan. When they wheeled her out of the room to do the scan, doctors told her husband she would be back in 15 minutes. That was the last time he saw his wife alive.
Three liters of blood filled her stomach, her heart stopped, and she died of a hemorrhage.
The news, aside from the initial shock of another life lost, was not a surprise to black women. The story of negligence on behalf of hospital staff before, during and after childbirth is a story that has been told time and time again. Women complaining of pain and being written off as drug addicts who just want pain pills. Doctors not listening to patients, and giving them advice like, “Just go home and get some rest,” instead of running tests to figure out if something is really wrong. Serena Williams even shared her story of how she almost died after giving birth because her doctors would not listen to her. Beyonce would later share a similar story after the birth of her twins.
If women as prominent as Serena and Beyonce are disregarded, imagine what regular black women face. Even more-so, poor black women. For every 13 white women who die during childbirth, 44 black women meet the same fate. The childbirth morbidity rate for black women is 3-4 times that of white women. These stats should terrify us all.
As a black man in a relationship with a black woman, who hopes to one day have black children, I am scared. I want kids, but not at the cost of my wife. I am horrified that we could walk into a hospital together bright-eyed with excitement, and I leave alone with a child in my arms wondering where to go from there. I’m not usually a pessimist, but it’s something I think about often. What is the solution? Women are advising the use of midwives and doulas, but I can’t help but think that if something goes wrong during the home birth we are at even more of a disadvantage because we are away from competent medical professionals. It feels to me that even with increased childbirth morbidity rates, a hospital is the best place to give birth.
I don’t know, I don’t have the answers. Hopefully, I am years away from having children and making that decision.