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Black Mothers: The Risk of Giving Birth

Serena Williams was not the first black woman to be ignored by her doctor post-partum. Black mothers consistently balance the joy of conceiving a child with the worry of staying alive to watch their baby grow. The medical field continues to put their lives in jeopardy by underestimating their pain and concerns during and after birth.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported black women to be three times more likely of dying from childbirth than white women. Though there is no physical “evidence” to explain the disparities in birth mortality, they raise questions of where they stem from.

With that in mind, many black mothers have shared their experience during birth and post-partum. Many said nurses called them dramatic and overreacting or plainly disregarded their requests. Along with women who had lived through the experience, the significant others of those who passed away have also begun sounding alarms.

Kira Johnson passed away three years ago from severe internal bleeding as a result of what was supposed to be a typical C-section birth. Her husband, Charles Johnson, told ABC7 that her doctors continually ignored both him and his wife’s concerns about her post-surgery recovery. Johnson sued the Los Angeles hospital for the neglect and sudden death of his perfectly healthy wife.

Amber Rose Isaac, 26 years old, passed away in an emergency C-section this year. Her boyfriend, Bruce McIntyre spoke out publicly on his concerns that racism was involved in the neglect of his girlfriend. McIntyre, like Johnson, said he witnessed his girlfriend’s concerns go unacknowledged following her surgery.

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln uploaded a TikTok video on black maternal mortality, advising ways to avoid racist doctors and the potential of being ignored in the emergency room. Black mothers have been advised to seek alternatives to hospital doctors such as doulas. However, it is not always convenient for women with certain health concerns and conditions to birth naturally or from home.

Dr. Lincoln released another TikTok video talking about the issue of racism and race-based stereotypes in the medical fields. She said it’s a common misconception in the field and within training that black people do not feel pain the same way white people do. A study done in 2016 found that half of the white medical students from the survey had false beliefs about black people’s pain tolerance as well as provided less accurate recommendations for treatment.

Many arguments to debunk the racist undertones are based on genetic diseases black women deal with as well as access their healthcare. At the end of the day, the numbers and statistics don’t matter. What matters is that black and brown women have a lesser chance of experiencing motherhood than white women. The medical field is plagued with racist beliefs on the biological nature of black people and continues to pass down those myths to its students.

Featured Image by Mustafa Omar on

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