MIAMI - Maternal mortality is happening at alarming rates. The World Health Organization reports that over 287,000 women died during and following pregnancy in 2020.
Black women are three times more likely to die due to a pregnancy-related issue than white mothers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC found it's because of variations in the quality of healthcare, underlying health conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias.
Having a baby should be one of the happiest moments of a mother's life and for Anya Cook, it was a long time coming. After 17 miscarriages, she didn't feel worthy of having a happy pregnancy.
In 2022, after an IVF implantation, Cook and her husband Derrick learned they were pregnant! They finally made it past five weeks – the longest Cook ever carried a child.
On December 14th, that joy turned into more heartbreak. Cook lost her amniotic fluid, so she and her husband went to the hospital for help. She was past 15 weeks, Florida's current cut-off for terminating a pregnancy. Cook says the hospital sent her home.
Just one day later, she miscarried.
"I heard her body hit the toilet and I heard the water splash," Cook said.
It happened in the bathroom of a hair salon.
She lost her daughter Bunny and then began to hemorrhage.
"I ended up losing half my blood in my body anyway," Cook said.
Jamarah Amani is a licensed midwife with the Southern Birth Justice Network. She knows the risk Black mothers face all too well.
"We have many studies that show even medical residents who are in training have been trained to not take black people's pain as seriously, to not listen to black women when they're giving reports about symptoms. To not understand the complaints or the health history," said Amani.
That is why the Southern Birth Justice Network looks to create a safe space for Black women to get what they want and need.
In January, a mobile midwife clinic hit the road making available holistic care, referrals to doctors, doula services, and even recommendations for centers where different birthing options exist.
The Miami Birth Justice Initiative is a new program in the hospitals working with them to give women those same options there.
"People need to be able to seek care, to not be turned away from doctors who are afraid of being sued or criminalized for just providing the standard of care," said Amani.
For Cook, losing her baby nearly killed her physically and mentally.
"I was in a really bad place. I really contemplated suicide for an extensive amount of time," she said.
Now, Cook is regaining her confidence in her body believing that one day she'll be able to carry her baby to term.
"I know my body can do this. It did before."
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