Because Your Future Matters

Why do some mothers have healthier babies?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2023 | Firm News |

Every mother-to-be wants her baby to be healthy. And this desire leads many women to give up alcohol and other unhealthy habits. They give them up to protect their baby’s health. But sometimes, the mother’s actions aren’t enough.

Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that roughly 1 in 33 babies are born with birth defects. These are structural changes that can affect any part of the baby’s body. The changes can be minor or life-threatening. But they are more common among Black and Native American babies. Why is this?

The statistics show that racism plays a role

Researchers have long noticed that babies of different races had different birth outcomes. These different outcomes also affect the mothers:

  • Black women are three times more likely to die from childbirth than White women
  • Native Alaskan women are two times more likely than Caucasians to die from childbirth
  • Black, Native Alaskan and Pacific Islander babies are more likely to be premature and suffer from lower birthweights
  • Black, Native American and Pacific Islander babies have significantly higher mortality rates than White babies

These trends persist even when researchers check the numbers for women with similar educational and economic backgrounds.

This doesn’t mean that the individual doctors and nurses are racist. Instead, the research points toward systemic racism. They cite several social and economic factors that play a role in the mother’s pregnancy:

  • Income and economic stability
  • Housing and physical environment
  • Access to healthy food
  • Social supports
  • Access to quality health care

Racism and discrimination have long made it difficult for women of color to enjoy these things at the same levels as White women. The result is that Black women, Native Alaskan women and other women of color start with several checks against them.

What can pregnant women do?

The more you realize the deck is stacked against you, the more you need to act carefully. The CDC offers several key tips:

  • No smoking, drinking or recreational drug use
  • Check if your prescription medications are safe for pregnancy
  • Take 400mg of folic acid every day
  • Avoid overheating
  • See your doctor regularly

Of course, doctor visits are most helpful when your doctor truly listens to you and pays attention to your health. You should never accept condescension or rude behavior from a doctor. In fact, behaviors like that could signal problems with the quality of your care. In May 2021, NPR covered the racial disparities in health care and noted that, for a long time, doctors learned to assume that certain symptoms pointed to one issue in Black women and a different issue in White women.

Every woman deserves reasonable care

Many Black women and women of color prefer to see Black doctors and doctors of color. They often feel these doctors pay more attention to them and show them more respect. But it’s not always a possibility to see a doctor who looks like you. Even so, you deserve someone who will treat you with the respect you deserve and will meet the professional standards for your care.

You know your body, and you want a healthy baby. If your doctor doesn’t appear to be taking you seriously, be sure to get another opinion. Some women may be statistically prone to worse childbirth outcomes, but you don’t want statistics to define you. You want to hold your happy, healthy baby in your arms.