Dying in childbirth used to be incredibly common, but most people think that’s the sort of thing that rarely happens in modern, industrialized countries – especially those like the United States, where medical care is supposed to be top-notch.
Would it surprise you, then, to learn that the United States has almost twice as many maternal deaths per live births than any other developed nation? Would it shock you more to find out that racism in the delivery room (and both during gestation and after the child is born) may have a lot to do with it?
A pregnant woman’s odds of dying in the U.S. is directly related to her skin color
Previous estimates were bad: They held that maternal deaths among Black women were 2.5 times higher than those for non-Hispanic white women. New estimates, however, are worse: The real death toll among Black mothers is actually 3.5 times higher than that of white women overall.
Among the findings of the more recent study:
- Black mothers are twice as likely than white mothers to die of severe postpartum bleeding than white mothers
- Black mothers are also twice as likely to die as white mother from blocked blood vessels (embolisms)
- Black mothers are five times more likely to die than whites of one of the most common pregnancy-related disorders: preeclampsia and eclampsia (fatally high blood pressure)
What’s causing the disparity? Often, it has to do with the prejudices medical providers carry with them. Black women who complain about their treatment are dismissed as just extraordinarily hostile, and Black women who try to alert their medical providers to their concerns when they don’t feel right are treated as merely “complainers.” In other words, when white women ask for help, they tend to get it. When Black women do the same, they are often dismissed.
If you believe that your loved one was injured or died during or after childbirth because her medical team didn’t listen, it may be time to learn more about your legal options.