As a pregnant Black woman, I am acutely aware of the systemic racism and bias that exists within the healthcare system. It is a reality that I have had to confront throughout my pregnancy, from the moment I found out I was expecting to the present day. While I have been fortunate enough to have a relatively healthy pregnancy, it has not been without its challenges.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced is finding adequate care and treatment from my obstetrician. Unfortunately, my experience has been far from ideal. I have had to deal with inadequate care, poor communication, and a general lack of concern for my well-being. It has been frustrating and disheartening, to say the least.
At 23 weeks pregnant, I made the difficult decision to fire my doctors and seek care elsewhere. It was not a decision I made lightly, but I felt that it was necessary for the health and well-being of myself and my baby. As women, we are often taught to be polite and not make waves. We are expected to accept subpar treatment and care without complaint. But when it comes to our health and the health of our unborn children, we cannot afford to remain silent.
The reality is that the healthcare system in this country is failing women, particularly women of color. The maternal mortality rates in the United States are shockingly high, and the disparities between white women and women of color are staggering. According to recent articles by the New York Times, Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes, and Indigenous women are also at a higher risk.
This disparity is a result of systemic racism within the healthcare system, which leads to inadequate care and treatment for women of color during pregnancy and childbirth. It is a problem that has been acknowledged for years, but little has been done to address it.
As women, we need to use our voices and speak up when we are not receiving the care we need and deserve. We need to be willing to take up space, to be seen and heard. We need to demand better care and treatment, not just for ourselves but for all women.
It can be challenging to speak up, especially when we are pregnant and vulnerable. But we need to remember that our lives and the lives of our unborn children are at stake. We cannot afford to remain silent. We need to be willing to ruffle feathers and make waves if that is what it takes to get the care we need.
For me, speaking up required getting the strength and time to call different department heads, finding the head of public relations at the affiliated hospital, as well as the department chief, and going through the channels to get my voice heard. It was not easy, but it was necessary. I refused to accept mediocre care, and I was willing to do whatever it took to get the care I needed.
But speaking up is just one part of the equation. We also need to demand change within the healthcare system. We need to hold healthcare providers accountable for the care they provide. We need to push for policies and practices that address the systemic racism and bias that exists within the healthcare system. And we need to demand equal protections for all races.
The healthcare system in the United States is failing women, particularly women of color. It is up to all of us to push for change and demand better care for all women. We cannot afford to remain silent. We need to use our voices and speak up, and we need to demand change.
It is also important for white women to recognize their privilege and check in on their BIPOC friends who may be struggling. While pregnancy and childbirth may have been a smooth sailing experience for some, it is not the reality for many women of color. By checking in on our friends and listening to their experiences, we can help to create a more supportive and inclusive environment for all women.
In addition to speaking up and demanding change, there are steps we can take to protect ourselves and our families. One of the most important things we can do is to educate ourselves about our rights and the care we are entitled to receive. We can also seek out healthcare providers who are committed to providing equitable and compassionate care.
It is also important to have a support system in place. Pregnancy and childbirth can be challenging, and having a network of supportive friends and family can make all the difference. We can also seek out support groups and resources that are specifically designed for women of color.
Ultimately, the key to improving maternal care in this country is to address the systemic racism and bias that exists within the healthcare system. We need to demand change at all levels, from individual providers to policymakers and lawmakers. We need to hold healthcare providers accountable for the care they provide, and we need to work together to create a more equitable and inclusive healthcare system.
As a pregnant Black woman, I have had to confront the systemic racism and bias that exists within the healthcare system. It is a reality that I have experienced firsthand, and it is a problem that affects women of color across the country. But by speaking up, demanding change, and taking steps to protect ourselves and our families, we can work towards a better future. We can create a healthcare system that is equitable, compassionate, and supportive for all women, regardless of race or ethnicity.
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