Written by: Debra Bingham, DrPH, RN, FAAN
It is unacceptable that Black and African American women are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than women in all other racial and ethnic groups (CDC). The most recently published statistics show that there were 43.5 per 100,000 live births where Black women died compared to 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births for white women and 14.4 deaths per 100,000 live births for women of other races. The Institute for Perinatal Quality Improvement is working to change this fact.
One thing we can do to reduce pregnancy-related racial and ethnic disparities is to ensure that all women we take care of are treated with dignity and respect. But, according to the over 200 stories of maternal morbidity collected and reported by Nina Martin @ProPublica & Renee Montagne @NPR, African American and Black women feel "devalued and disrespected by medical providers." We can show more respect by making changes in how we converse with the women we take care of. We can also make sure that we speak respectfully about the women we are taking care of when conversing with our colleagues.
Conversation is where change begins and we have the power to change the conversation.
Set Limits about what others are allowed to say around you by establishing a “not in my workspace” rule when it comes to racially disrespectful speech or actions.
Practice and prepare, have a plan for how you will act if you see, hear someone being treated disrespectfully.
Express your concerns. Discuss, but do not blame others.
Apologize if you said or did something that others find hurtful.
Keep trying to improve.
Uncover and learn from disrespectful comments and actions.
Persuade others to #SpeakUp!
It can feel risky to speak up. But, if we are silent, we lose our voice and nothing will change. We also are complicit when we are silent; people assume we agree with what they just said or did. We can apologize if we say something we regret or if we were silent when we wish we would have spoken up. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Change is possible and change begins when we all speak up.
QI Saves Lives!