The Medical Misconception

Mothers are the backbone of every household. They are the puzzle piece that brings a family into place; they are the ultimate mixture between firm and caring. What if someone were to tell you that depending on if your mother is black or white determines her worth? What if I told you that some doctors believe this fallacy? 

In the United States, it is not a secret that one of our societal issues is racism. When sparking up this conversation, black men tend to be the topic of discussion. I would like to shed light on black women, specifically black mothers. In the United States, around 700 women die each year from pregnancy related deaths and of those women, Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women. This topic was brought to my attention a few years ago. I was sitting on the couch watching TV with my mom and a story about Judge Hatchett appears. Hatchett elaborated on how she lost her daughter in law, Kira,  just 12 hours after she gave birth. The Hatchett family filed a negligence suit against the hospital and this sparked questions for me. Why was she neglected? 

The Superwoman Schema is the misconception that black women are stronger than most physically and mentally. If you look back at history, black women have always been known to withstand more than the average. This misconception has caused health risks within the black community. Not only does this affect how black women personally perceive themselves, but it also has become a belief to those who are not black. The misconception soon becomes racial bias in particular when a woman's pain tolerance is based on their skin color. Statistics show that white medical students and residents who endorsed false beliefs, about biological differences between races, showed racial bias in the accuracy of their pain treatment. 

This unfortunately is shown during the maternal stages for African American women. Judge Hatchett’s daughter in law, Kira, was seen with blood in her catheter just an hour after having her son. According to the AJC, her husband notified nurses as soon as possible. Kira Hatchett did not go into surgery until 10 hours later and was diagnosed with three liters of blood in her abdomen, which led to her death. In a similar situation, a friend of mine, her name will not be disclosed, was sitting in the Grady Hospital waiting room, with a pad underneath her, for five to six hours bleeding because she was having a miscarriage. Why didn’t these women receive medical aid sooner? 

Black women are more likely to encounter more preventable maternal deaths than white women. This is just an example of the many outcomes of black mothers across the states. Black women suffer due to the lack of finances, lack of medical aid, and prenatal care. For example, a recent analysis of California women enrolled in Medicaid was made and Black women were less likely to receive postpartum contraception. When they did receive it, they were less effective. 

There are many ways our society can help to prevent mothers from missing out on their children’s lives. National Partnership mentions providing patient-centered care that is responsive to the needs of Black women, expanding paid family and medical leave, expanding protections for pregnant workers, and expanding access to quality, patient-centered and comprehensive reproductive health care; just to name a few plans. As a society, we have to come together and take note of things that are unjust. Pay attention to the laws and vote. It all begins with you and your community.


Sources provided within links.