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Birthing While Black: Examining Americas Black Maternal Health Crisis

Source: Tom Williams / Getty

While testifying during Congressional hearings on the issue of Black maternal health, Congresswoman Cori Bush shared that both of her children almost died in childbirth and that each time, her concerns were dismissed by doctors, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The first traumatic experience occurred just over two decades ago The St. Louis representative was sitting in a waiting room during a prenatal appointment and saw a sign, which read: “If you feel like something is wrong, something is wrong. Tell your doctor.” Once in the exam room, Bush, who was five months pregnant at the time, tried to tell her obstetrician about some pain she had been experiencing. Sadly, the physician brushed off her concerns.

‘Oh no, you’re fine. You’re fine. Go home, and I’ll see you next time,” Bush recalls being told by the physician. One week later, her son Zion was born weighing slightly more than a pound. “His ears were still in his head. His eyes were still fused shut. His fingers were smaller than rice, and his skin was translucent,” Bush reflected. “We were told he had a zero percent chance of life.”

Zion spent one month on a ventilator and four months in the intensive care unit, but he survived the ordeal and is now 21 years old. The nightmare did not end there, though. During Bush’s second pregnancy with her daughter, Angel, Bush went into premature labor at just 16 weeks. A different physician told her that there was no way her baby could be saved.

“I said, ‘No, you have to do something,'” she recalled. “But he was adamant, and he said, ‘Just go home. Let it abort. You can get pregnant again because that’s what you people do.’ ”

Bush’s sister, who was with her, threw a chair down the medical center’s hallway in a moment of frustration, which prompted nurses to run and get the doctor. The doctor put in a cervical cerclage, which helped to keep Angel tucked in her mom’s womb for a while longer. She was born healthy and is 20 years old today.

“This is what desperation looks like. That chair flying down a hallway,” Bush said. “Every day, Black women are subjected to harsh and racist treatment during pregnancy and childbirth. Every day, Black women die because the system denies our humanity.”



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