A white Doula's view of Black Maternal Health Week
Why start a convo about how Black Women in the United States are more likely to die from pregnancy related complications?
Why would I, a White Woman, post about this?
Why is RACE considered into the equation?
Should ALL women be given the very best care and easy access to health providers?
Let me start by saying that I am learning new information everyday. This is a process for me that I take responsibility for. The latest research, the current patterns, all of this is there to be found, if you look hard enough.
I little bit about me~
I have been educated and trained concerning moms and babies for years. Maternal health, lactation, infant care and early childhood were all fascinating subjects to me. I have traveled across many miles and countries to learn and to teach women and providers how to better help families. My husband and children often accompanied me to the hotels. Formerly,as an Emergency Medical Technician and CPR Instructor, I have been the one to hold a person's "life" in my hands. As a Christian, I am aware that I do not hold that power, but am referring to the care given at any one time. I AM NOT a writer, but will muddle through my thoughts here.
Most of my training, until recently, neglected to bring me into the awareness of health disparity, about Black folks. I was not taught, and so I had no idea. I work hard at being kind and loving to everyone, no matter of color of skin or language spoken. I raised and taught my children to be the same way. We lived our happy life, helping all families. We even moved to Mexico to help raise up the money, build an orphanage and run it for 3 years. We really put our funds, hearts and feet to "loving out neighbor." After that term, we passed it off to locals that were going to run it way more efficiently than we could and returned back to the US. That was the hardest and best thing we ever did as a family and we still are living with the effects of it.
Recently relocating our family to Richmond, VA set us on this new path. As owner and founder of RameyBirthDoula, I might work with up to 100 different families each year. Add into that, several more families that I am helping throughout the nighttime and as a sleep consultant. No two families are alike, each one having different needs. ALL OF THEM, however, DESERVE the BEST THAT I can give. Becoming a PARENT is transforming, incredible and exciting. It does come with a level of RISK involved, but that should not be DISPROPORTIONATE because of who you are. Finding a compassionate, competent caregiver, should not be that difficult. Good health care facilities and offices should be accessible to each and every family here in the US.
More moms and babies are dying in this part of the population than any other. This fact remains constant across the financial arc, from the poorest to the wealthiest. In the local Washington D.C. area, hospitals are closing their maternity units like never before. Women are traveling 30 to 60 min by taxi to wait for hours for a 15 min apt. Some are choosing not to get any care and just show up when they are in labor. Warning signs are missed, things are overlooked and dangerous situations can occur.
This is not a discussion on health insurance, politics or income!
So now, let's talk RACE.
Again, white lady here that does not know much. This is a brief breakdown for a short blog post.
Race is the color of skin or ethnicity, Racism, is a system of structure, opportunity and value. HOW we VALUE OTHERS. Current and historically.
Do we treat everyone the same? I thought our family did. Truth be told,in the US, we DO NOT.
As a white family,I was so excited to have black friends and my children to have them. I wanted us to be diverse and progressive.
I quickly learned that THAT is not how it works. You earn trust, respect and friendship, in that order.
We must wait to be trusted, or to be trustworthy. Being "nice" is not good enough.
This translates into the support and education that we provide. Can we be TRUSTED to do our best, go the extra mile and help ALL families? Do we network and find good resources that will be helpful to a Women of Color?
Are we able to help women blend tradition passed down to them and current medical research to provide for the best outcomes?
WE MUST DO THIS, WE MUST DO BETTER!
It seems to me, in light of that information, that RACISM is the cause.
Closing the maternity units in the Southeast side of D.C. in neighborhoods where families are predominately black.
Treating parents like they are uneducated when they come into deliver their babies. Not providing the very best care to them and their babies. Separating moms and babies to protect the baby, instead of educating that new mom and helping her gain experience and confidence. These are just a couple of the examples that I have seen.
I am angry for my "sisters" that are being treated this way.
You should not have to live in fear in this here, UNITED STATES.
Women in general, get listened to less and treated differently in the medical arena. We should be encouraged to trust our bodies and our gut. Intuition and good health used to be a good thing, it helped us survive!
Most women are in charge of the healthcare of their family. I know until a few years ago, I could tell you everything about my kid's and husband's medical needs and history. I don't think I am alone in that.
How about we stop TRYING and just start DOING.
Let's educate, elevate and encourage WOC to be the strong women they are~ powerful and knowledgeable.
Open new offices and provide good Midwifery care or OB/GYN for all women of color throughout all stages of their life.
Keep the mom/baby diad close together and help mom protect the fragile new baby. Allow families to gain new skills and support them as they do.
Recognize RACISM as a modifiable RISK factor in Maternal-fetal healthcare and figure out how WE (ALL of us) can CHANGE that!