As Maternal Death Rates Rise for WOC, This Latina OBGYN Offers Four Life-Saving Tips
It’s no secret that women of color struggle with marginalization in almost every spectrum.
For example, a recent statistic demonstrates that women make $0.83 for every $1 a man makes in the United States. However, this does not consider the wage gap between white women and women of color, which is a stark $0.26 difference. That’s right — women of color make $0.57 for every $1 a man makes.
Unfortunately, this inequity has bled into other life-threatening areas, including maternal and post-partum care. The shocking death of Tori Bowie in April due to childbirth-related complications is one such tragedy that may have been preventable.
The facts are that women of color are two to three times more likely to die on average from pregnancy-related issues than their white counterparts. Additionally, the maternal mortality rate for Hispanic women has increased by 44% in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re a woman of color currently pregnant in the U.S., Dr. Ali has some invaluable advice for you. An OBGYN and a woman of color, Dr. Ali turned to Instagram this week to spread awareness on how to keep yourself safe and well-informed. Here’s what she had to say.
Build a reliable community that knows where you are at all times
Dr. Ali’s first piece of advice is to build a close community of people you can lean on. She says, “I want you to get your group of friends, your family, anyone close to you who knows that you are pregnant and turn on your location. […] If you send an SOS text, someone needs to go to where you are immediately.”
She reiterates the heightened dangers of pregnancy for women of color, stating, “It does not matter— your socioeconomic status, your education, […] where you live — it is just fact. You are more likely to die. Everyone around you needs to know that.”
You need to be your own biggest advocate
Although speaking up for yourself in a medical situation can seem stressful and intimidating, it can also save your life and that of your unborn child. Dr. Ali stresses the importance of advocating for yourself and trusting your gut in these instances.
In Dr. Ali’s words, “Black women and women of color who are pregnant who go to the ER or go to triage, they’re not going to be listened to as well as someone who is white. So if you feel off and you feel that something is wrong, you are going to fight for what you want done. Period.”
Maintain open communication with your medical provider
Dr. Ali says, “Talk to your provider. Your doctor, your midwife, whoever’s taking care of you, let them know that you know the statistics and that you are three-four times more likely to die. Let them know that that worries you and scares you and that you want to feel like [they’re] someone you can trust.”
She notes that it’s not at all out of the question to ask your provider for their cellphone number so you can stay in touch should an emergency arise. She adds, “If you have any sort of worry or something feels off, let us know.”
Stay well informed and beware of advice from non-medical professionals
Nowadays, when influencers are regarded with the utmost authority on any variety of topics, Dr. Ali warns against heeding any advice that does not come directly from a trusted medical professional. Dr. Ali cautions, “Be very, very picky about where you’re getting your medical information.”
She explains, “Nowadays on social media, it is all available to us all of the time. I beg you, if you are a black woman or a woman of color, do not listen to influencers or people who are not medically educated in this field when you’re looking for advice throughout the pregnancy. It is way too risky.”
Instead, she suggests finding a community of doctors and medical professionals that you can trust. “I say that and I know that it can be very, very difficult, but I promise you we are out there.”