My birth story highlighted a critical reality: Black women need strong advocates

Motherly Collective

Giving birth to my son Rye in 2016 feels like a lifetime ago. Back then, hope filled the air—Obama was president, and Hillary Clinton seemed poised to follow. As a Black woman, I finally felt a sense of being seen, of progress being made. But the reality of childbirth for me was far from hopeful. My journey with Rye was a grueling three days of labor, filled with unnecessary pain and frustration.

The first and second time I went to the hospital, I was dismissed, told I wasn’t dilated enough. The excruciating pain I felt was deemed insufficient. Back home, the agony continued. Hours blurred as I tried to manage the pain alone, constantly on the phone with my sister, a neonatologist, who was hundreds of miles away but growing increasingly concerned about the repeated dismissals.

Finally, the pain became unbearable. We rushed to the hospital again. This time, a kind nurse recognized my distress from previous visits. She quickly assessed my condition, noticing I was severely dehydrated and exhausted. They rushed in an IV with fluids and medication to help me fall asleep. Relief washed over me as I drifted off, but it was short-lived.

When I woke up, the doctor who had planned to induce me was no longer on call. Instead, a new doctor, a white male, was now assigned to my case. His dismissive attitude and lack of understanding added another layer of stress to an already overwhelming situation.

He informed me I wouldn’t be induced yet, and that I had to wait two more days for my regular doctor to return. Oh, but, he completely understood my pain!! My frustration boiled over. My sister was also furiously texting me to refuse to go home. Thankfully, the nurse intervened and found a way to keep me in the hospital. A new doctor took charge, finally acknowledged my pain and induced labor. Many grueling hours later, my beautiful son Rye entered the world.

But the struggle wasn’t over. Despite my sister’s advice—as a neonatologist—the hospital initially refused to give Rye formula when my milk hadn’t come in yet. Their judgmental attitude added insult to injury.

The constant advocating throughout my birth experience was exhausting. It highlighted a crucial reality: Black women often need strong advocates in the delivery room, even if they’re not physically present. My sister’s unwavering support, even over the phone, made a world of difference.

This experience deeply impacted me. When it came to having my second child, I knew I had to take charge. Finding a Black female doctor who would listen to me, support me and be readily available throughout my delivery journey became a priority.

Black Maternal Health Week is a stark reminder of the racial disparities that persist in our healthcare system. We must raise awareness, advocate for change and ensure all mothers—especially Black mothers—receive the respect, care and support they deserve during childbirth.

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you’re interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.

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