The constant disbelief of Black women in health, specifically childbirth, has to be stopped. From Serena Williams having to save her own life when doctors didn’t believe her while she was in labor to the death of Sean “Diddy” Combs’ ex, Kim Porter, after reports of her complaining of pain went unnoticed, this trend among doctors and their Black women patients, has almost become an epidemic.
A Virginia couple felt this blatant bias as well. As a matter of fact, the wife and mother delivered their firstborn in a bathtub hours after a hospital would not admit them and told the two to go home.
LeeAnn Bienaime, 27, and her husband Leo Bienaime, 29, went to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth the evening of Aug. 23 after she had consistent and “intense” contractions, she told ABC News.
“I was certain that we were just going to be admitted … In all of our classes and appointments, they told us that when you’re having contractions five minutes apart for a minute long, for one hour, you should come in to the hospital,” she said. “And we had been timing them.”
But when the two got to the hospital, they said they were told they wouldn’t be admitted because while she was 80% effaced, she was only 2 centimeters dilated, not 5 centimeters.
Her contractions, however, were painful. Another Black mother complaining of pain that wasn’t believed.
Currently, the United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world — which is already terrible. But it gets even worse for black women, whose odds of dying in childbirth are three to four times higher, largely because doctors believe black women less when they express concerns about symptoms, especially pain. “These racial disparities exist even when you control for socioeconomic factors like education or insurance status,” reporter and comedian John Oliver said. “We are literally disbelieving black women to death.”
“I had gotten sick, so my body was telling me that these were intense contractions,” LeeAnn said.
After two hours at the hospital, nothing had changed. Two full hours. Can you believe that?
She added, “In hindsight I would have stood my ground and not left.”
A few hours after getting back to their Chesapeake home, LeeAnn Bienaime realized she wouldn’t be making it back to the hospital after all.
“I was just in pain and [Leo] was like, ‘Did your water break?’ and I felt this pressure and then I felt the head,” she said. “I was just going through my feelings of anxiety and not being able to believe that I’m going through this.”
Leo Bienaime said once he heard that his wife felt the baby, he quickly dialed 911 for an ambulance and tried to remember the birthing videos he’d seen.
“She said she felt the head and it’s like, ‘Oh wow. I’m not tired anymore,'” he told ABC News.
Once LeeAnn Bienaime was in the bathtub, her husband said he asked for “one good push.”
“He slid out, I caught him and flipped. I wrapped him in a towel and handed him to her,” he said.
Now, mom, dad and the baby boy, Joachim, are at home doing fine. LeeAnn Bienaime said she feels grateful there were no major complications, but frustrated that she was sent home.
“At first I was angry, and I mean rightfully so, because…