Highlighting health struggles with pregnancy during Black Maternal Health Week

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Kiara Babb

This week is black maternal health week. Black women are more than three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications as white women. So, there’s a push to raise awareness on this issue.

The CDC clarifies that there isn’t one reason that this is happening but many. From differences in health care quality to underlying conditions to things like racism and bias.

The mission now is to prevent Black women from dying while trying to bring life into the world.

Kiara Babb is a mother of four with one more on the way. She says if there’s anything she’s earned about health care during her five pregnancies, it’s that you have to advocate for yourself. “You have to be an advocate for yourself,” Babb said.

“If it doesn’t feel let right, you have to be firm on that because they will dismiss you,” said Babb.

That’s happened to her more than once. For example, during her third pregnancy, she felt kicking down low a week before her due date. “They did not do an ultrasound to check the position. It was like ‘oh feel here, feel there.’ ‘We will see. Yeah, she’s head down. You’re fine,'” said Babb.

“The next day that evening, I ended up going into labor. I was in labor for an hour, and I delivered her in the front seat of my sister’s car, and she was born breach. So she was not head down. She came out feet first,” Babb said, laughing.

Babb is ok now, and so is her baby, but she believes her experience points to a larger trend of how some doctors treat Black mothers. “I don’t know if it is the thought that maybe we are less educated or maybe we don’t know what we are talking about when it comes to how we are feeling or describing what we are feeling,” said Babb.

Dr. Eeka Marshall is an OBGYN with Lee Physician Group. “If those things aren’t taken seriously or acted upon expeditiously, then you tend to see the maternal deaths, you know, from that,” said Dr. Marshall.

Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women in America. In the state of Florida, there were 28 maternal deaths in 2020, and 17 of those were Black women.

Terrika Mosley is a doula. “We need to bring it to the light, and we need to take a stand for ourselves,” said Mosley.

Mosley is a doula who coaches moms during childbirth. She says moms need to know it’s ok to speak up and demand proper care if something is wrong. “They need to know that they do have the right to say, hey, I need to have a second look at something, that their voice matters, that their opinion matters on their health,” Mosley said.

This week, Vice President Kamala Harris said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would put a plan in place to showcase hospitals and health care providers that do well on birthing issues and point out those who have more to do.

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