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Welcome to #BirthingWhileBlack, a blog that examines the unique disadvantages and experiences of black women which result in a racial disparity in birth outcomes that goes beyond socioeconomic differences. 

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Statistics

In the disparity in birth outcomes between black and white women, race overtakes socioeconomic status (SES) as a contributing factor — the wide gap in perinatal health persists across maternal income and education levels, with black women consistently having poorer outcomes than white women.

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photo: Alex Elle / @alex_elle

History

White men have a violent past of exploiting black women for personal or political gain, predating and following slavery. Such a history of violating black women and their bodies contributes to generational trauma and stress, which likely adversely impacts birth outcomes.

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News

A collection of recent news that sheds light on the disparity in black-white birth outcomes.

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photo: Alex Elle / @alex_elle

Narratives

“Black women and gender non-binary pregnant people routinely experience violations of our autonomy, stereotyping and unwanted medical interventions during pregnancy and childbirth. Black women are at least three to four times more likely than white women to die in childbirth, our babies are more likely to be born too small or too early. Often, these statistics are explained away by blaming pregnant mamas–we supposedly don’t eat well, or exercise enough, or care enough about our babies to show up for prenatal care–or by pointing the finger at the stress of living with societal racism. What’s overlooked in these narratives is the neglect, disrespect and coercion that black women and gender non-binary pregnant people experience in the maternal health-care system and the impact on our maternal outcomes. This mistreatment is also ignored by our movements against state violence, which find it hard to center black women’s reproductive experiences, or to imagine medical professionals as perpetrators of violence. Maternal health initiatives also perpetuate this erasure by overlooking black women’s leadership and experiences. 

Putting black women’s birth stories at the center changes the way we think about organizing for change.” –  Chinyere Oparah, a social justice educator, activist scholar and mindful leader. Chinyere is co-founder of Black Women Birthing Justice, co-editor of Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy and Childbirth and lead author of Battling Over Birth: Black Women and the Maternal Health Care Crisis in California.

 

Click here for #BirthingWhileBlack narratives on the experiences of Black women in the maternal health-care system.

photo: Alex Elle / @alex_elle