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For The Culture: A rise in doulas may save a black mother's life

According to the CDC, black women are four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications.

When Sierra Artemus gave birth to her baby boy she nearly became a statistic.

“Oooh the birthing process,” Artemus said as she dropped her head. “I went to the hospital because I didn't feel the baby move. I was told the cramps  I was having and not feeling the baby move was due to dehydration.”

Artemus said her concerns seemed to go ignored until her water broke, and she was covered in blood.

"Apparently my placenta had ruptured which is where the placenta detaches from the umbilical cord,” Artemus said hesitantly. “ The baby loses oxygen and the heart rate starts to drop and baby and mommy are at risk at this point."

Every ten minutes, women in the United States suffer life-threatening complications from childbirth, according to data for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

For black women, the numbers are even worse. According to the CDC, black women are four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications.

"If you are black and highly educated you still have a higher probability of pregnancy-related death than the least educated white woman, “ said Dr. William Callaghan with the CDC.  “It is astonishing The only difference is the color of one's skin."

Many healthcare professionals have denied discriminating against a patient based on race

 Still, for black women, like Artemus, who've gone through near-death experiences, they're scarred for life.

 "I'm scared to have children again."

She’s now left wondering if she should've explored more healthcare options.

"I would think sometimes, I wished I used a doula,” Artemus said.

New national studies suggest mothers who use doulas are more likely to have healthier babies and experience fewer birth complications.

NBC Charlotte’s Billie Jean Shaw spoke to local doula Kira Kimble.

"A doula is a trained professional that works with individuals, to get the resources they need to have satisfying and empowering birth experiences' work closely beside doctors,” Kimble said.

Kimble, who has a diverse clientele says she has rendered services to black mothers who usually use a doula the second time around due to mistreatment with traditional healthcare providers.

“Especially in terms of pain management a lot of times the perception is that black women are being overdramatic,” Kimble said. “Their pain is ignored and yes I have seen that before so I can tell you when you have a doula it's more attention paid to make sure that those things aren't happening to you."


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