Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Strong Black Babies

I had an opportunity to give a speech as a councilwoman to my town during a Black Lives Matter protest. There were 1500 people there...making me love my town so much more. In my speech, I provided stats about institutional racism. I mentioned that black babies are two times more likely to die than white babies even through black people are only 13% of the population in the United States. 

I began to think about my baby, Miles, who died in the NICU. Miles died after one month in the NICU. I remember being told, "don't worry, black babies generally do better in the NICU". It took me 9 years to realize the dangerous bias in that comment. There are now many articles discussing how problematic that belief is. In the world of the NICU, black babies generally do better than white. But I wonder if black babies do better because there are more of them in the NICU. Black mothers in America have a higher risk of going into preterm labor, so of course there are more black babies in the NICU.  In my NICU support group, many of us were black. White boys in the NICU are called wimpy white boys and research is showing that it leads to them getting higher quality care. 

When Miles was in the NICU, I remember being upset with how a nurse handled him. I remember her not being very careful and I saw him wincing. I met with the hospital administration and discussed my concerns and they assured me that the nurse cared about Miles. I am not implying that Miles was not cared for in the NICU because he was, the nurses showed so much love and concern the entire time and cried with Matt and I as we cried over his body after he died. Nevertheless, while I was at the NICU, two babies died, Miles (after a month) and a black girl, who died after seven weeks of life.

Some research for you

How Racism May Cause Black Mothers To Suffer The Death Of Their Infants

Racism in the NICU is hurting black infants

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