Oh, you thought the system was flawed before?

Te-Ana Souffrant
4 min readApr 30, 2020
4-leaf clover — represents good luck in Irish Culture

It’s happening AGAIN, my feed on all of my social media is being flooded by MORE deaths of birthing people/women (mainly Black women) who have died during childbirth. In the weeks leading up to this “pandemic”, things had seemed to go back to normal, no deaths, no sadness, no grief, just the birth world mobilizing to offer support to an already stressed and stretched system of people in need. What has followed in these last weeks is people close to me, my husband, brother (in-laws) and close family friends dealing with COVID, almost dying and for many, the end result was their untimely passing (deaths). Oh, y’all thought COVID-19 was going to change things, well it won’t and it hasn’t, and it will ONLY get worse….but then, and I hope, we burn the shit down (not literally, but figuratively — i think) and things will progressively, but slowly, start to get better!

Over the past few weeks I have read stories upon stories and more stories of birthing people being ignored, in coma’s, people fighting for their lives, partners not being allowed to witness the birth, support people not being allowed to support, babies dying, birthing people dying, partners dying, it’s ALL TOO MUCH! One story I read yesterday on one of the platforms I am on, said that a pregnant person, at full-term (37–40 weeks pregnant) presented at their doctor’s office with an elevated BP of 180’s/100’s and protein in their urine (which can be a sign of kidney disease or failure), both common in pregnancy, the doctor told diagnosed the client with pre-eclampsia (a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure, which can lead to seizures and death), but, instead of sending them straight to the ER to start treatment and/or to be managed (which I know is not ideal with all of this illness going around), OR a plan that could have been implemented in the office where the client was monitored or even a care plan done at home, where the client was being monitored and treated, instead, the doctor told his patinet that they should “go home, and come back in two days and let them see where they are at by then.” What???!!!! And, Amber Isaac, a Bronx resident, set to give birth a Montefiore Hospital, located in the Bronx, who was high-risk (low blood count, confirmed twice before their birth, and was confirmed lower with the second blood test), and wasn’t seen, in-person, by a medical provider since the beginning of the year. They kept putting off vital blood work, and ignoring her and her partners desires for her to be seen. Amber had a premonition she wouldn’t survive her birth, and in mid-April, her worst nightmare came true, when she developed HELLP syndrome (a serious complication of high-blood pressure, elevated liver enzymes, and low blood (platelet) count) and died, during an emergency c-section. Her son lived.

I want to tell you, my first reaction is always sadness, and then a short amount of anger. Why short? because I am tired (physically, mentally and emotionally) of seeing people who look like me be treated like our lives are worth less, and as a result, we are treated unfairly, diagnosed less often, and our increased likelihood of death is 4–5x the national average and in many places in NYC, where I’m from, 8–12x more likely.

I said it before, I am TIRED! I find myself mortified and desensitized all at the same time. Seeing images of Black people, happy pregnant people, excited to give birth, ready to become parents, having their lives cut short, because the system is the system and they don’t want it to change. My focus right now is on how do we effectively manage these relationships, how do we create change, how to we burn the shit down and build it back up?

For the first month of lock down I was stuck, mentally, unsure of what to do. Through the weeks I’ve become more centered and my focus is on researching and going back to what I know, which is connecting with the people and figuring out and asking them how we can BEST support them, not telling them how we can and will support them. Freedom is not free! And, for the people most affected by this, they have been told over and over, throughout their lives, that because they fit into a specific demographic, that their opinion and voice doesn’t matter, their lives are worth less than others and that they don’t deserve.

These are the people that I will continue to fight for and work for and speak up for.

  • *If you’d like to support me in gathering data and understanding how people are impacted by the client/doctor relationship, please check out our survey. We are looking for:
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Te-Ana Souffrant

We connect parents to support (Doulas, Lactation), education and resources from preconception through the 4th trimester.