No Time to Be Patient: Why is the Healthcare System Failing Black Women?

Image by Carlota Guerrero
 
The risk of pregnancy-related deaths for black women in America is 3 to 4 times higher than white women. Let that sink in. 
 
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists acknowledged in May 2019 that “racial bias within the health care system is contributing to the disproportionate number of pregnancy-related deaths among minority women.” Health professionals are simply not recognizing or acknowledging the specific health risks for women of color during pregnancy according to the former president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 
 
Although it’s more likely for WOC to deliver their babies in lower-quality hospitals than their white counterparts, not having their pain or concerns taken seriously by health professionals seems to be a problem regardless of class. “Put simply, for black women far more than for white women, giving birth can amount to a death sentence” says Harvard Public Health. The World Health Organization lists Black women having the same  odds of surviving childbirth as those living in Mexico and Uzbekistan—countries where many live in impoverished conditions. 
 
Many of these women are dying after their babies are born. Typically the focus switches from the mother to the baby and women are discharged with little information on potential health risks or given credence when they raise questions. 
 
And this isn’t just an American problem. In the United Kingdom, Black women are 5 times more likely to die of maternal complications than their white counterparts. 
 

“You can’t educate your way out of this problem. You can’t health-care-access your way out of this problem. There’s something inherently wrong with the system that’s not valuing the lives of black women equally to white women.”

- Raegan McDonald-Mosley

Chief Medical Director for Planned Parenthood Federation of America

 
It’s clear this is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed. The question that remains is how? In America, the best way to resolve this issue is being raised by political candidates as it becomes a hot-button issue for the 2020 elections. However, at Synesthésie we believe the change must always start with the individual. We must take our health and wellness into our own hands and not wait for policy makers to sort it out for us. We don’t have time to be patient. Our lives are at risk. 
 
Synesthésie’s creator and head curator, Angelica Allen, is currently experiencing these issues firsthand as she navigates her way through her first pregnancy as a black woman in the UK. The experience of pregnancy has incredible potential for growth and empowerment but often leaves women of all kinds feeling powerless and victimized. This issue has hit home for us at Synesthésie and we’re going to be aligning our content more specifically with this important battle for the reproductive rights of women of color. 
 
As holistic wellness is at the core of our brand, we’re moving forward exploring this topic from all angles—whether you’re currently expecting or only interested in birthing your dreams, we believe proactively embracing your sensuality is beneficial for all women as it strengthens your self-image and confidence, gives you a greater understanding of your body’s baseline for health, and increases your sensitivity and awareness. All these attributes of womb-wellness can empower you as you navigate a sometimes hostile healthcare system. 
 
You can be your best advocate if you intuitively understand your body’s needs and have the fearlessness to speak up for yourself when you know something’s off.
 
Please let us know if this issue has affected you personally in the comments section on Instagram or our blog. We’ll shortly be rolling out content centering more specifically around the importance of cultivating pleasure in our daily lives, practices that honor the feminine, and pragmatic ways to promote healing and womb wellness in your life. 
 
As mentioned, these practices can be embraced regardless if you hope to have a child at some point in your life, or if you’re only concerned with birthing your hopes and dreams. Our wombs are the seat of our creativity as women and it’s time to honor their incredible strength and power. It’s our hope that women in our community can move from trauma and victimhood to a place of incredible transformation and growth. Regardless of the odds stacked against us, still we rise.

 

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