Just recently the Black Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, revealed that she had suffered a miscarriage in July. Meghan is not alone. Many women experience pregnancy loss. Around one out of every 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. But, Black women experience miscarriage more. Research shows that Black women experience all types of pregnancy loss more often than white women, including miscarriage as well as stillbirth, preterm birth, and infant death.
Meaghan documented her loss in a New York Times Op Ed.
Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few. Some have bravely shared their stories; they have opened the door, knowing that when one person speaks truth, it gives license for all of us to do the same.”
Michelle Obama described her experience as “lonely, painful and demoralizing” in her memoir, Becoming. And, Serena Williams and Beyonce both opened up about their painful experiences with pregnancy complications. Black women are speaking out.
Why do Black women experience miscarriage more? This question has mystified doctors for decades. Even when risk factors, such socio-economic background, health, and education are taken into consideration, pregnancy loss is still greater among Black women than white.
Moreover, the National Partnership For Women and Families report: Black women are three times more likely to have fibroids than white women, and the fibroids occur at younger ages and grow more quickly for Black women; Black women show signs of preeclampsia earlier in pregnancy than white women, which if improperly treated can lead to severe complications including death and Black women experience physical “weathering,” meaning our bodies age faster than white women’s due to exposure to chronic stress linked to socioeconomic disadvantage and discrimination over the life course, thus making pregnancy riskier at an earlier age. Yes, ladies, systematic racism is real. So, is the struggle.
Finally, the not-for-profit states Black-serving hospitals provide lower quality maternity care. Seventy-five percent of Black women give birth at hospitals that serve predominantly Black populations.
What Can You Do? They say knowledge is power. Knowing that Black women are not doing as well as their white sisters when it comes to pregnancy and reproductive health will help you stay vigilant about your health. Of course, eat healthy and properly and don’t miss your antenatal check ups. But, reach out to friends and family who can share their experiences, like Meghan is doing, so you know you’re not alone. There is evidence that when a celebrity speaks out about their problem, others are more likely to speak up and seek help. Learn what has worked and hasn’t worked.
Blacknews.com offers resources for Black women’s health, but we encourage you to ask around. We want to hear from you. If you have a resource for Black women’s health that has worked well for you personally or someone close, you want to share, email us at SuzyKnew@suzyknew.com or tweet us @SuzyKnew! Let’s help each other stay healthy.