Black Women, Black OB-GYNs, Discrimination, Maternal Mortality, Black women

New Study Finds Black Women Prefer Black OB-GYNs Amid Concerns Of Discrimination And Maternal Mortality

The Black women in the study recalled frightening experiences they've had with white doctors not taking then seriously or stereotyping them.

A new study has revealed concerning statistics about Black women’s fear of not being heard and dying due to pregnancy complications. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers found that Black women prefer to see Black OB-GYNs and presented the findings on Feb. 14 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s meeting in National Harbor, Maryland.

The study included multiple interviews and focus groups with 32 Black women aged 27 to 34. They were asked about their past experiences with obstetric care and how they felt with a white OB-GYN versus a Black one. Many subjects of the study admitted that they were worried their pregnancies could kill them, NBC News reported. 

One woman said, “I was so scared because I’m like, I might die with this pregnancy. Like that was the first thought in my head. I could very well die just from simply getting pregnant and because I decided to have a child.”

Unfortunately, her fear is founded on statistics. 

Data from the Center for Disease Control reported that “the maternal mortality rate of Black women in 2021 was 2.6 times higher than the rate of white women.”

Even more so, nearly 75% of Black women have had a negative experience with one of their doctors in the past, oftentimes a result of their race. Some of these experiences were detailed with harmful racial stereotypes. One woman said that her doctor once told her, “Abortion is an option, especially if you don’t know the dad. I’m sorry, am I meant to be a single mother?”

Another woman recalled a nurse repeatedly asking her if she needed government assistance. She remembered the incident, “What in my profile is making you ask these questions? Are these normal questions? Or are you asking me this because I’m Black?” 

In light of the concerning results, the women in the study admitted that they preferred to work with a Black OB-GYN. 

Dr. Nicole Teal, a maternal-fetal medicine subspecialist at UC San Diego Health, said, “Racial concordance between providers and patients has shown to improve outcomes in primary care, like with diabetes management, hypertension management, and patient trust and satisfaction.”

Teal recalled seeing so many Black women sigh with relief when they had a Black physician. They reported feeling more comfortable, safer, and like they could be honest.

Teal described, “Their shoulders relax, they sit back, and it’s like ‘I’m going to be heard. They just feel it as a feeling. It’s sometimes hard to describe.”

These differences can be seen even in the treatment outlook, as Black patients not being taken seriously has resulted in adverse health outcomes on a systemic scale.

Teal stressed this is why it’s so important “as a field, to work to increase the number of Black OB providers, and that includes physicians, but also midwives.”

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