Sciam Neatly Encapsulates Racism in Medical Establishment’s Treatment of Black Mothers

Imagine giving birth and caring for a newborn without support. During the coronavirus pandemic, mothers are doing exactly this amid changing hospital policies and social distancing guidelines. The experience is even more harrowing for women of color, particularly non-Hispanic Black women, who are more than three times as likely to experience maternal death as compared with non-Hispanic white women.

The postpartum period is filled with newborn snuggles but also sleep deprivation and hours of infant screams—two methods used to train Navy SEALs to withstand torture. Most new mothers will experience some form of the baby blues, but it is largely neurobiology and environment such as social support that affect whether a mother experiences postpartum mood disorders. These disorders may not only affect a child’s development; they can also be passed down for three generations. People of color are especially likely to experience this burden. In fact, new mothers of color experience postpartum mood disorders at twice the rate (38 percent) of white mothers in the U.S., and up to half of them do not receive any support or treatment.

Racial disparities are well documented in the diagnosis and treatment of maternal mental health issues. Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a big push to address this problem. But a 2020 paper published in Archives of Women’s Mental Health shows these disparities are also entrenched in other aspects of the health care system. Women of color, including African-American, Asian-American, Native American, multiracial and other non-white individuals, are less likely to be screened for depression, compared with white women, during the postpartum period.

No previous papers had addressed the prevalence of racial disparities in postpartum screening, making this study, out of Allina Health, the first of its kind. Researchers examined 7,548 women who were part of Allina Health clinics, the largest provider of obstetric services in Minnesota. After accounting for other factors associated with postpartum depression screening—such as depression diagnosis prior to birth and income level—researchers still found racial disparities. Compared with white women, Asian women were 19 percent less likely to be screened. African-American women were 36 percent less likely, and Native American, Hawaiian, Alaska Native and multiracial women were 56 percent less likely. The findings are concerning because those who need postpartum mental health care the most are the least likely to receive it. The study also found that racial disparities in prenatal depression screening did not exist, so provider bias cannot be the only explanation for postpartum screening disparities. Further research is needed to fully understand these gaps….

lim (frustration -> infinity) { (Vitamin D)^frustration } = Argh!

Medical research and medical journalism is infested with bigots.   How else can you explain the careful screening and elimination of any reference to the role of vitamin D in pregnancy and its relevance to racial disparities in preeclampsia, miscarriage, premature birth, birth trauma and PPD?

Here’s a crazy theory: the discordance between pre- and post-natal screening is a function of mothers’ willingness to cooperate.   Clearly, mothers who have gone through the obstetrical wringer are less likely to see medical staff as “helpers”, and this is exacerbated in black women.   They just want to get the hell out of there.

“hours of infant screams”?  Is this what it’s like to be raised by “science”?

High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in Black Pregnant Women and Neonates Residing in Northern USA

Cruelty in Maternity Wards: Fifty Years Later


Fifty years have passed since a scandal broke over inhumane treatment of laboring women in U.S. hospitals, yet first-person and eyewitness reports document that medical care providers continue to subject childbearing women to verbal and physical abuse and even to what would constitute sexual assault in any other context. Women frequently are denied their right to make informed decisions about care and may be punished for attempting to assert their right to refusal. Mistreatment is not uncommon and persists because of factors inherent to hospital social culture. Concerted action on the part of all stakeholders will be required to bring about systemic reform.

“Cruelty in Maternity Wards” was the title of a shocking article published just over 50 years ago in Ladies’ Home Journal in which nurses and women told stories of inhumane treatment in labor and delivery wards during childbirth (Schultz, 1958). Stories included women being strapped down for hours in the lithotomy position, a woman having her legs tied together to prevent birth while her obstetrician had dinner, women being struck and threatened with the possibility of giving birth to a dead or brain damaged baby for crying out in pain, and a doctor cutting and suturing episiotomies without anesthetic (he had once nearly lost a patient to an overdose) while having the nurse stifle the woman’s cries with a mask.

The article shook the country and triggered a tsunami of childbirth reform that included the founding of the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics, now known as Lamaze International. Nonetheless, as Susan Hodges (2009) recently noted in her guest editorial published in The Journal of Perinatal Education, despite enormous differences in labor and delivery management, decades later, inhumane treatment remains distressingly common. American childbearing women still suffer mistreatment at the hands of care providers, ranging from failure to provide supportive care to disrespect and insensitivity to denial of women’s right to make informed decisions to common use of harmful medical interventions to outright verbal, physical, and even sexual assault. Furthermore, the more extreme examples are not aberrations but merely the far end of the spectrum. Abuse, moreover, results from factors inherent to the system, which increases the difficulties of implementing reforms.


According to (an online resource devoted to helping individuals recognize, address, and prevent domestic violence), domestic violence and emotional abuse encompass “name-calling or putdowns,” “keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends,” “actual or threatened physical harm,” “intimidation,” and “sexual assault” (“Domestic Violence Definition,” 2009, para. 2). In all cases, the intent is to gain power over and control the victim. One could add that perpetrators, obstetric staff or otherwise, feel entitled to exert this control on grounds of the victim’s inferior position vis-a-vis the perpetrator as the following illustrate: …” — J Perinat Educ. 2010 Summer; 19(3): 33-42.

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