Health professionals, advocates say black women face health disparities
JEFFERSON CITY – Medical racism plays a part in how women of color fare in pregnancy and childbirth, according to advocates who spokes Thursday at seminar in Jefferson City.
Black women in the U.S. are 3 to 4 times more likely to die than white women from pregnancy-related issues.
Evonnia Woods, who leads the Maternal and Infant Mortality campaign for Reproaction, said health care professionals often make assumptions about black women.
“There’s this contradiction that we don’t know our bodies, but also, if we tell them that we are in pain, then it’s like 'you can sustain it,'” Woods said.
Woods said misunderstandings about how pain levels are perceived results in situations such as women not receiving a proper dosage of pain medication after birth.
Mid-Missouri Black Nurses Association President Felicia Anunoby said she has seen the risks firsthand.
“Being a mid-wife, I know the problems that we have about childbirth, especially with racial disparity in this country,” she said. “When they know themselves and they’re telling their provider what their needs are and their provider sometimes doesn’t listen.”
Anunoby said one way to help is to increase the number of minority health professionals to ensure women of color are heard and understood if something is wrong.
The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal and pregnancy-related deaths among any developed nation. When sub-groups are identified, advocates say, things become more troubling.
According to the America’s Health Rankings, Missouri ranks sixth in the nation in maternal and pregnancy-related deaths. In 2018, there was an average of 32.6 deaths per 100,00 births in Missouri. Black women accounted for 65 percent of them.