In her new Netflix documentary, “Homecoming” Beyonce speaks candidly about having to undergo an emergency cesarean section to save her twins’ lives. “I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth,” the 37-year-old singer recounts. “I had an extremely difficult pregnancy. I had high blood pressure, I developed toxemia, preeclampsia, and, in the womb, one of my babies’ heartbeats paused a few times, so I had to get an emergency C-section.” Fortunately, her twins, Rumi and Sir, arrived healthily.
Her admission of these difficulties brings these health conditions and the plight of Black motherhood to light.
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal.
Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious — even fatal — complications for both you and your baby. If you have preeclampsia, the most effective treatment is delivery of your baby. Even after delivering the baby, it can still take a while for you to get better.
If you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia too early in your pregnancy to deliver your baby, you and your doctor face a challenging task. Your baby needs more time to mature, but you need to avoid putting yourself or your baby at risk of serious complications.
Rarely, preeclampsia develops after delivery of a baby, a condition known as postpartum preeclampsia.
But the real horror is how this condition hits Black women harder than anyone else.
About 700 to 900 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. And for every death, dozens of women suffer life-threatening complications. But there is a stark racial disparity in these numbers. Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die than white mothers. It is estimated that up to 60 percent of maternal complications are preventable. One way to prevent them is to talk to and learn from women who have nearly died from these complications which is why we are sharing this today.
The rate of preeclampsia and eclampsia for black women is 61% higher than it is for white women and 50% higher than for women overall, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Preeclampsia sometimes develops without any symptoms. High blood pressure may develop slowly, or it may have a sudden…