The expectation to be strong at all times often has a damaging impact on Black women including depression, isolation, judgment, and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Institutional and systemic racism means that Black women are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are impacted by poverty, substandard housing, and violence. Research has found that stress and traumatic life events during pregnancy contribute to preterm birth (less than 37 weeks), and low birth weight. Several studies also suggest that a complex relationship between lifetime exposure to racism, stress, trauma and prenatal depression may trigger pregnancy complications.
Black women in the maternal healthcare system are often stripped of their agency and autonomy by medical practitioners who tend to view them as unable to make decisions that are healthy and responsible. This exacerbates the distrust and social distance Black women experience in the medical system which historically, has denied access to and performed medical experimentation on Black people for the benefit of white people.
This story circled headlines in 2012, published in Huffington Post and other mom sites/blogs as an illustration of the treatment of Black women in the maternal health care system. Denene shares her nightmare experience of giving birth to her first child in a hospital in New York City.