We unfortunately live in a world where Black people are treated different than any other race, and it shows daily. In fact, studies show and prove that African Americans have the highest Maternal and Infant Death rate in the country. While the fight for equality has always been extreme for decades, we have an obligation to fight for African American families in these delivery rooms. African American mothers are dying at three to four times the rate of Hispanic and White Mothers, and infants born to African American mothers are dying at twice the rate as infants born to Hispanic and White Moms. The reason being is because systematically- our culture as always been treated differently than any other race in the county.
Medical professionals are a lot less likely to take African American women seriously- not too long ago I surveyed 5 Black Women who have reported going to the doctor or hospital telling their care provider of pains they were in, only for the providers to make them feel as though nothing was wrong or advising simply “just take some Tylenol you should be fine”. I’ve personally experienced calling my OB a few days postpartum with a horrible headache, asking to be seen and the nurse told me my doctor wouldn’t see me until my 6-week appointment and to just take some Tylenol. These are just minor examples of how there are Systematic disparities that work against Black families. However, I choose to believe that faith in Prenatal care can be restored. We as a country can collectively put the care back into Prenatal Care by treating ALL people like people and not just numbers. I personally am doing my part to bridge this gap and change the narrative by working with families as a Healthy Birth Advocate and Doula.
A doula is a Non-Medical support person who assists families both prenatal and postpartum by providing emotional support, Non-Biased Evidence Based Information, and advocating on the behalf of families. Here are some things in my humble opinion that families should know:
1. You have the right to ask questions to your provider if you do not understand something- There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking your doctor questions. This is your body and your baby. You do not have to conform just because its your doctor. You have the right to get an understanding of what is being presented to you.
2. You have the right to ask for more time- In the event there is something your provider is pushing for- its no harm is asking “Is it okay if I have some time to think about this before we make a decision”?
3. You have the right to switch providers- Especially in a pregnancy- this is a delicate time for the family and if you aren’t getting your needs met it is okay to go somewhere else because after all you are the patient and you should be treated with respect. You deserve that and so does your baby.
4. You have the right to refuse- Simply put- if you do not want to do something-Guess what, you do not have to. Now some providers may decide that they no longer want to treat you, and that is their right as well.
5. Remember, Its Not Consent If Your Provider Makes Afraid to Say No- Informed consent is a process for getting permission before conducting a healthcare intervention on a person, for conducting some form of research on a person, or for disclosing a person's information. An example of Informed Consent is when your provider suggests a procedure, you ask questions, your provider answers all your questions and provides you with Pros and Cons and from there an Informed Decision can be made. Ironically, lots of people do not know that they have the above rights and sadly a lot of providers aren’t advising us of this because patients/families don't know enough to ask.
My hope is that the above helps families be informed of their rights and choices. I also highly recommend all families have someone in their corner that will support their choices and provide Evidence Based Information to help.
Let YOUR voice be heard and YOUR choices known.
Your Love And Beyond Founder,