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Charles Johnson IV

Why Are Black Mothers Dying During Childbirth More/Miscarrying At Work in America?

Charles Johnson , his wife Kyira Adele Dixon and their son Charles  in Cartagena Colombia August 23, 2015 Photo Credit: Courtesy Charles Johnson

For every 13 white women who die during pregnancy or within one year of giving birth, there are 44 black women. Most of these deaths are preventable.

Maternal death rates is rising in America and black women are dying most. According to the Centers for Disease Control, black women are three to four times more at risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes than any other race.

“The experience of being black in America is so fundamentally different from the experience of being white in America that it translates to health outcomes,” said Dr. William Callaghan, chief of the CDC’s Maternal and Infant Health Branch.

It is happening at every socioeconomic level. Tennis Champ Serena Williams complained of doctors not listening to her about her critical chronic condition after the birth of her first child.

Trending this week is the story of celebrity TV Judge, Judge Hatchett‘s daughter in law, Kyira Johnson, who was a 39-year-old and mom to a 19-month old son with her husband, Charles Johnson IV, Judge Hatchett’s son.

Kyria walked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for a scheduled C-section to deliver her second son Langton in 2016— and would never walk out.

Judge Hatchett, her son Charles Johnson and his childeren Langston and Charles at home in Atlanta, GA on 6/20/17. Photographer: Julian Dufort

“We were expecting this to be a walk in the park,” Charles, 36, an entrepreneur, told PEOPLE magazine in a feature last year. “We thought we’d go in, high five, spend a couple days in the hospital and come home with two little boys.”

Charles said he noticed blood in Kira’s catheter and that she was in pain, but “smiled through the pain”

“She never complained,”  he shared to that site. “She was so tough.” Kyria later died caused by a lacerated bladder that occurred during her C-section. Charles’ family sued but he didn’t stop there and has been working to create new laws and change policy, even testifying before congressional panels in Washington.



It’s not just the pre and post child birth experience either.

A new New York Times report indicates that women are also suffering miscarriages when they are denied requests for light duty at work when pregnant. The article told the story of few warehouse employees who lifted heavy boxes after work after begging their supervisors to work with lighter boxes but were repeatedly told no.

Editor’s note: As a black mother, I find this trend and the news coming out of several reports quite troubling.

This is a health crisis that should be addressed but I have no hope that it will get better before it gets worse if some things don’t change. Racism and discrimination, health disparity and negative attitudes towards certain groups won’t help either.

Could the solution be more doulas and midwifes and better laws and policies, and implementation? Perhaps! Let’s continue the conversation online at Bellyitch on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Find me JayJay Ghatt on Twitter!