A pregnant woman has opened up about making the difficult decision to have a home birth amid the coronavirus pandemic because she fears ‘hospitals aren’t safe for black women’ like herself.
Early on in her pregnancy, Marbre Stahly-Butts, 34, from Brooklyn, New York, hired a doula to be an advocate for her when she gave birth in the hospital because she knew that black women have the highest maternal mortality rates in the U.S.
But the lawyer told Good Morning America that her birthing plan changed after she learned new COVID-19 restrictions would force her to choose between having her doula or her partner, Kesi Foster, in the delivery room with her.
Stahly-Butts was 37 weeks pregnant when she and her partner decided to have a home birth with a midwife and doula present.
‘Hospitals are not safe for black women,’ she told GMA. ‘Because of long-standing racism and systemic failures in and out of the healthcare system, hospitals are sites of death and trauma for many black birthing mothers.’
While explaining her decision to have a home birth, Stahly-Butts referred to the maternal mortality rate data that was released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in January.
Black women in the U.S. are two-and-a-half to three times more likely to die during or in the months after giving birth than white and Hispanic women, according to the findings.
‘It’s something throughout the pregnancy process has really scared me a lot,’ explained the mom-to-be.
Stahly-Butts said she specifically asked about maternal mortality rates when interviewing OBGYNs, and she also hired a doula ‘pretty early on’ because the alarming stats ‘really scared’ her.
‘We’ve seen a lot of data that indicated that having a doula and an advocate at the hospital made a huge difference in terms of outcomes for black women specifically,’ she said.
The anxiety that she had about her pregnancy was only exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which is affecting black Americans at exceptionally higher rates.
Stahly-Butts lives in New York City, where black and Latino people are dying from COVID-19 at twice the rate of white people, according to data released last week.
Concerns that her newborn baby could possibly be quarantined after delivery if she tested positive for the novel virus or was showing symptoms also led to her choosing a home birth for her child.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that while ‘hospitals and accredited birthing centers are the safest settings, each woman has the right to make a medically informed decision about delivery.’
Most home births are without complications, but ‘research suggests that planned home births are associated with a higher risk of infant death and seizures than are planned hospital births,’ according to the Mayo Clinic.
Stahly-Butts believes a home birth is her best option during the pandemic, and she is happy that she was able to make the decision for herself.
‘I’m really blessed and lucky that I got to make a choice about how I wanted to undertake my maternal care,’ she told GMA.
Earlier this month, Nancy Pedroza, 27, from Fort Worth, Texas, was rushed to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest by masked emergency workers after her unborn child’s heart rate suddenly dropped during her home birth.
The first-time mother had decided to have a home birth amid the coronavirus pandemic, but she ended up welcoming her baby boy in the hospital after her midwives were forced to call an ambulance.
Pedroza, who was joined by her partner Ryan Morgan, spent hours laboring in a mask before giving birth to a healthy baby boy named Kai Rohan Morgan on April 8.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Erica Tempesta