The Dark Side of Pregnancy For Black Women

Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life. Being able to create life and give birth to a healthy child is truly a blessing, as some women and couples are not able to naturally conceive. Often times, when a celebrity or acquaintance reveals to the world that they are pregnant people, will say things like, “Everybody is pregnant!”, “It’s baby season”, or “there’s something in the water!”

Although these comments can be funny, and not at all meant maliciously, I think this sentiment downplays the miracle that conception and childbirth really are. Each healthy child born should be regarded as a miracle, if not only for the fact that it is a new life but for the ever-present danger women, especially black women, face during pregnancy and childbirth.

After having my first child, and now in the third trimester of my second pregnancy, the dark side of the pregnancy experience is a reality to me that I never expected. No one talks about the rounds of testing pregnant women go through for genetic and physical defects their unborn child may face. In the midst of planning baby showers and stocking up on diapers we are bombarded with words like down syndrome, trisomy 13, spina bifida & other unforeseen conditions we are to be tested for. This is nerve wrecking enough but it gets much worse, especially for black women.

It’s true for all women that pregnancy poses tremendous health risks for mother and child, but for some more than others. Like the statistics of SIDS, the rates for maternal mortality rates and overall pregnancy complications is higher in the black community than any other racial group in the US. According to the CDC, black women are more than twice as likely to die in childbirth or of pregnancy complications than any other racial group. But unlike cases of SIDS, education is not the primary culprit for these disparaging numbers. Simply put, it’s racism.

Obviously, a healthy pregnancy starts with a healthy body and