NEW YORK (PIX11) — Giving birth to a child is one of the happiest moments in a woman’s life, but sobering statistics show it can be a challenging experience for pregnant woman of color.
In the United States a Black woman is three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than a white woman. In New York City the likelihood is said to be nine times higher. The Bronx has the highest morbidity rate of any borough.
Thousands of Bronx mothers have sustained injuries at childbirth. The root cause, according to advocates, is inequities in maternal health care.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson issued a proclamation for Black Maternal Health Week
“Every woman, every New Yorker deserves access to quality, affordable health care and maternal health care,” she said.
Advocates claim discriminatory practices are denying Black women in the city adequate maternal health care, often leading to childbirth deaths. With a week dedicated to the issue, advocates hope to create awareness of the magnitude of the problem, and get the city and state to implement policies to address the needs of pregnant women of color, and reduce the high rates of maternal mortality.
“We need to provide families access to quality maternity reproductive care,” birth worker Myla Flores said.
As they continue to struggle for change, many pregnant woman of color are retaining the services of doulas, professional assistants who provide physical and emotional support during pregnancy and childbirth. They’re calling on the city and state to address their needs now.
“We ae not going to give up,” Gibson said. “We are the light at the end of the tunnel. We will never lose hope.”
In a move to help, Mayor Eric Adams last month expanded a program to provide, at the city’s expense, doulas for needy family in the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. And the City Council is currently considering legislation to address the issue, along with a maternal health bill of rights.