An earlier blog post brought you the story of Shalon Irving, the CDC epidemiologist who died just a few short weeks after giving birth to her daughter. Shalon’s story is tragic and brings to light a bigger issue. Black women are dying of pregnancy related causes at 3x the rate of other races. In our last blog, we examined prenatal care. This post will discuss labor and delivery.
MedlinePlus: “Labor is the process of giving birth. Labor happens in three stages. The first stage begins with contractions. It continues until your cervix has become thinner and dilated (stretched) to about 4 inches wide. The second stage is the active stage, in which you begin to push downward. Crowning is when your baby’s scalp comes into view. Shortly afterward, your baby is born. In the third stage, you deliver the placenta. The placenta is the organ that supplied food and oxygen to your baby during pregnancy. Mothers and babies are monitored closely during labor. Most women are able to have a baby through normal vaginal delivery. If there are complications, the baby may need to be delivered surgically by a Cesarean section.”
Cesarean birth is defined by the American College of Obstetricians and Obstetricians as “the delivery of a baby through incisions made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.” Since a Cesarean section is a surgery, it can pose more risks than a vaginal birth. The March of Dimes lists potential risks and complications on their website. Their statistics also show that black woman have more C-sections than any other race. The March of Dimes also states that “Although it’s rare, you’re more likely to die during a c-section than during vaginal birth.”
Once a black woman survives labor and delivery, they still face issues with postpartum care which will be the focus of our next blog. If you missed Shalon’s story earlier, read it here: story on npr.org about Shalon Irving