Black Women Plant Seeds Columns

Fighting for Black Wombs: Lacking Treatment

Kristina Button

Read the Introduction and Part 2.

For my first three pregnancies, I had the luxury of receiving care from a Black OB/GYN. My family relocated toward the end of my fourth pregnancy, which resulted in a struggle to find a care provider. Most of the practices that I contacted would not take me because I was too far along. I experienced a great deal of frustration and medical racism along the way. Though I was happy to deliver my first and only son, I lamented that my circumstances prevented me from having the birth plan that I desired. 

I became pregnant with my fifth child two and a half years later. This time I was determined to be prepared. I researched until I found a birthing center that I was confident in. Everything went well until a routine test found that I had a rare infectious disease. More than likely, I had picked up the bug from touching an infected surface in a public area. Typically, birthing centers and midwives do everything that a hospital does (except cesarean births), but my condition was so rare that my midwife referred me to a Medical Doctor. My baby could not be delivered at the birthing center because they would not know what treatment the baby would need after birth. 

I was given antibiotics and sent on my way. Once again, I was seven months pregnant and stuck searching for a care provider. 

By some miracle, I managed to find a practice that seemed promising. The practice had two offices, and so I chose the one that was the closest to home. I had only seen my new doctor twice before she talked about stripping my membranes at my 37th-week appointment, which was my very next appointment with her. I was absolutely not having it. 

Although a baby is technically considered full term at 37 weeks, and it is safe to deliver at that point if you naturally go into labor, most babies need the extra three weeks to continue their development. I was not willing to rob my baby of that extra time in the womb. 

The doctor admitted later that when I initially told her my due date, she thought of her niece’s who was getting married the same day. She wanted to attend the wedding, and so she had suggested stripping my membranes. 

This doctor was willing to put me through an unnecessary, often painful procedure so she could go to a wedding. She was willing to rob my baby of precious developmental time. For a wedding. Needless to say, I immediately switched offices and didn’t even think to look back.

After I switched offices, I was elated to find out that they had a Black doctor on staff. I immediately booked an appointment with her. I just knew that I would be well taken care of. 

But when I went into labor, my doctor was on vacation.

I was left in the hands of white healthcare providers who showed little care and concern for my Black body…

Read the Conclusion.