LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Marissa Trabal said when she found out she was expecting some years ago, she was happy and looking forward to the nine months ahead. However, despite giving birth to a healthy baby girl, she quickly found that the pregnancy and birthing journey was not without its challenges.
“It was a lot of things that happened that I wasn’t prepared for and that I did not want to happen, so that was a hurdle in itself because I actually felt like I didn’t have a voice. I felt voiceless. It was beyond alarming,” said Marrisa Trabal, The Black Millennial Doula.
Marrisa’s feelings during pregnancy and birth were echoed by many brown and black women across the country. According to the CDC, black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth, or from pregnancy-related causes, than white women.
That shocking statistic led Marissa to make sure she and other women never have to experience another traumatic birth. Marissa created The Black Millennial Doula and is studying to become a doula herself. She plans to help educate and advocate for women of color during their maternal journeys.
“It actually is intertwined with seeing my own people women that look like myself, look like my mom, look like you, dying at a disproportionate rate. That could have easily been me. My mother has four kids and almost died three times while giving birth all because they didn’t listen, they didn’t believe her, and that often results in death which is the ultimate price for someone to pay to bring life into this world.
A price Dr. Rachel Saunders at the Polk Dalton Clinic in Lexington said is too high to pay.
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“What we think is happening is that a lot of it is due to implicit bias. To really understand that, we have to look at the history of Obstetrics and Gynecology. There was once this prevailing belief that black women didn’t feel pain and that black women somehow were tougher and were more resistant to bad things happening and so I think some of those racist concepts have been brought through to modern-day medicine. However, what we’re doing here is listening to patients. In this clinic, I oversee residents. Which is really great because that can kind of change the trajectory of future doctors by really making sure they’re taking the time to listen to patients and take patient complaints seriously,” said Saunders, UK Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Saunders said there’s much work to be done as many of these deaths are preventable. but said raising awareness is promoting conversations in the medical world to find solutions.
Something Marissa said she’s thankful for, hopeful it signals the start of a change, allowing women of color to once again feel comfortable pursuing motherhood.
For more information about Marissa’s doula services visit her Instagram.