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According to a recent study done by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Black pregnant patients are three times more likely to die than white pregnant patients. This is an alarming health crisis, and we need to address it as such.

Black Maternal Health Week falls on April 11-17 every year, and it is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. When I found out I was pregnant in October 2022, I had no idea the uncertainty and fear that I was going to experience over the next few months. Around 20 weeks into my pregnancy, I was told at an appointment that I had an "incompetent" cervix by a maternal fetal medicine doctor over a two-minute conversation. He told me I could go into pre-term labor, but beyond that I was given no other information. Then, in February, I began to experience severe cramping and ended up in the hospital with heavy bleeding.

They kept me on observation in the antepartum unit for about a week and a half. The maternal fetal medicine doctor visited me a few times, but he never explained to me what was going on. They almost sent me home, but after some convincing, I was introduced to doctors from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). They finally walked me through what would happen if I went into pre-term labor like they suspected I would.

After two weeks and three days in the hospital, I went into labor. My daughter was born at 25 weeks and weighed one pound and eleven ounces. She stayed in the NICU for three months before she was healthy enough to come home with me. I thought the uncertainty was over, but even after I gave birth the doctors were dismissive at my appointments. 

Unfortunately, the fear and anxiety I experienced is all too common for many Black birthing bodies. We must raise awareness about the Black maternal health crisis in the United States. That's why I invite you to join me on Wednesday, April 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. for an Aftershock Documentary Screening: Honoring Black Birthing Bodies at North Dakota State University.

It's critical that we spread awareness about racial inequities in maternal health care so that we can prevent disparities for future generations. I worry about what my experience would be like if I decide to have any other children, or what it will be like for my daughter if she decides to have kids one day. I'm thankful for Black Maternal Health Week and the Aftershock documentary for bringing attention to this preventable issue. I hope you will join me at this important event!



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