Natural childbirth advocates whitesplainin’ birth to everyone else

Mighty Whitey

I’ve written many times before that the philosophy of natural childbirth is based on racist, sexist claims, and exploits women of color.

I’ve just learned a new word that perfectly captures the racism of natural childbirth advocacy. The word is whitesplain’.

As Arthur Chu explains in an awesomely title piece in the Daily Beast, Who Died and Made You Khaleesi?:

Mansplaining, whitesplaining, richsplaining—the way you can tell someone who’s ‘privileged’ is the unconscious belief that they have something to say, and that everyone will listen.

Chu is not writing about natural childbirth, but he could be:

We repeatedly tell stories about a white protagonist who goes on a journey of self-discovery by mingling with exotic brown foreigners and becoming better at said foreigners’ culture than they themselves are.

That accurately sums up natural childbirth advocates fantasizing that they are emulating exotic brown foreigners and becoming better at birth than they are themselves, and homebirth midwives heading to countries filled with exotic brown foreigners so they can practice and learn on them before returning to care for wealthy white women.

Chu is brutally honest:

The frustrating thing about being annoyed by the Mighty Whitey trope—and there are a ton of people upset— is that it’s so frequently employed by the well-meaning “good guys.” The whole point of “going native” is that the familiar Western civilization is portrayed as inauthentic, ugly, broken, flawed. The “exotic” foreign civilization is somehow more natural, more primal, more sensual, the way people really ought to live.

That’s a perfect characterization of the natural childbirth movement, complete with Mighty Whiteys like Grantly Dick-Read who claimed that “primitive” women don’t have pain in childbirth, or Ina May Gaskin who is constantly invoking the supposed “sexuality” of birth in nature.

Why?

Is it just that we get sick of living in modern society with McDonald’s and McMansions and mandatory vaccinations so we develop intricate fantasies about how much better life would be if we had to hunt our own food, build our own shelter, and develop our own resistance to dangerous microorganisms?

When it comes to natural childbirth, the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!

Natural childbirth is whitesplainin’ at its most self-absorbed. The Mighty Whiteys who run the natural childbirth movement (as well as the lactivist movement and the attachment parenting movement) believe that they have something to say and that the rest of us, particularly women of color, ought to be grateful that they deign to share their “wisdom.” They create appalling racial stereotypes like the one at the heart of the new reality show about unassisted childbirth. The show featuring a woman who gives birth outdoors by a stream on her yoga mat, as if any indigenous women ever did anything remotely approaching such a stunt. They are forever bemoaning the high rate of black maternal mortality or the low rate of black breastfeeding while doing precisely nothing to ameliorate the root conditions that lead to poor outcomes for black mothers and babies.

At the heart of natural childbirth, from its inception to this day is the elaborate, racist fantasy that life would be so much better if we could just emulate our “primitive” ancestors; in other words, whitesplainin’ at its finest.

  • CNM

    Yes. And even more atrocious- you wrote about the ‘Midwife International’ scandal last fall- they were stealing money and sending white students in/ exploiting clinics in Africa and Cambodia…in any case, they decided since they got bad press to just open a new program called ‘The Birth Institute’- same staff, same program, but now they charge even more for half crafted online midwifery courses and ‘study abroad’ opportunities where they even claim to train midwives in race, class and gender. I would laugh except for that they are making a lot of money on the backs of women in other countries and that just makes me sick.

  • RNMomma

    OT – Just saw this floating around. Ridiculous.

    http://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/birth-as-a-bowel-movement#.U6wr7Y1dU84

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      If several percent of people who had bowel movements died during those bowel movements, I’d sure as heck have mine in the hospital.

      • lawyer jane

        This metaphor implies that babies = poop! Most of us care more about what happens to our babies than what happens to our poop …

    • Ash

      Tell a laboring woman that birth is the same as a bowel movement and she’ll probably punch you in the face.

    • FormerPhysicist

      She’s pretty offensive and very ignorant.

      • RNMomma

        Aside from the obvious ignorance and offenses, I’ve actually taken care of patients who had to come to the hospital because they needed to have a bowel movement. It is not a fun go for them and the risk of complications such as bowel perforation are real. Especially among newborns.

        Ugh. Just one of my many frustrations with this post.

        • Karen in SC

          You are right. A young man aged 25 I knew died from complications of severe constipation that led to a bowel perforation and then sepsis. Tragic.

    • Maria

      What the…? No words.

  • yubbascrub

    Just wondering Dr. Amy what are your thoughts on Christy Turlington’s foundation every mother counts? http://www.everymothercounts.org How would you improve it?

    • Amy M

      Thanks for bringing this up, I saw it a few weeks ago, and meant to bring it up but I forgot the name of the organization.

    • lawyer jane

      I think they seem pretty solid! The goal is to increase access to prenatal care and trained childbirth assistants. Does not seem to be much woo there. There is one US grantee, a place called Commonsense Childbirth in Florida run by a UK-trained midwife. I researched them a bit, and they seem great too – yes, they do train CPMs, but they also seem to be doing some great things for women of color, and offer hospital based births in recognition of the fact that poor women deserve excellent care and options for pain relief. More info on that project: http://www.commonsensechildbirth.org/the-birth-place/#hospital. In fact, it seems like this place might have developed quite a good business model: “concierge” services for wealthy women that can financially support their worked with lower-income women.

  • Notsocrunchy

    Blowing up the message boards on baby bump because someone called women who follow doctors advice “uneducated”. Just makes me livid inside.

    • Jessica S.

      Gah! I hear you. Up is down, left is right. Words are whatever we want them to be!

  • Anna T

    The catch about “white person embracing foreign culture” stories – such as the one of Gonzalo Guerrero, who fought on behalf of the Maya against the Spanish – is that the white person truly and fully embraces the foreign culture. He doesn’t pick and choose. Gonzalo Guerrero eventually died at the hands of his former countrymen.

    I’ve heard the “that’s how they do things in Ghana, and that’s so much better than here” argument. So, perhaps you’d like to give birth in Ghana?.. Maybe. A big maybe. One thing for sure… you don’t want to live in Ghana. Not in a no-choice, all-your-life way.

    But I doubt that the majority of women who chose natural childbirth/extended breastfeeding ascribe to weird ideologies. I live in a place where many, perhaps most women have done what can be defined as NCB/extended BF/AP, etc, but…

    I don’t hear women say, “I gave birth naturally”. I hear women say, “I didn’t want an epidural because I wanted to skip the possible side effects.”

    I don’t hear women say, “I fought tooth and nail to avoid a C-section because I didn’t want to miss out on the natural birth experience.” I hear women say, “I’m so glad I could avoid a C-section so I won’t be at higher risk during future pregnancies/so I could recover more quickly to take care of my children and home.”

    I don’t hear women say, “I breastfed for three years to create a super-hyper-bond with my baby.” Instead, they say, “I breastfed and it was so convenient not to take formula to every outing.”

    I don’t hear women say, “the baby sleeps in our bed because we do AP.” More often it’s, “the baby sleeps in our bed because otherwise he doesn’t sleep at all.”

    So, you see? Practically, we might do the NCB/BF/AP thing. But because it’s not ideologically and emotionally loaded, no one’s worth depends on avoiding a C-section, breastfeeding one’s toddlers, “baby-wearing” or any such thing.

    We do what works for us.

    And often, those things that are defined as “crunchy” or “natural” or “coming from Mother Earth” really work out very well.

    • Karen in SC

      Or sometimes they don’t. And those you speak about were lucky their vaginal birth didn’t have any complications to recover from.

      • Anna T

        Karen, if something doesn’t work, we don’t do it.

        And, of course vaginal birth can have complications too. But as a general rule vaginal birth is quicker to recover from. Also hospitalization after vaginal birth is shorter (if everything goes well).

        • http://www.antigonos.blogspot.com/ Antigonos CNM

          You should meet my daughter whose C/S recovery was phenomenal, and she was barely 72 hours in hospital, total. She had an easy recovery from her first C/S but says this one was even easier.

          I really don’t think comparisons work in the birth sphere. I’ve seen many women who have had just about every complication in the book, and took months to fully recover from vaginal birth, and I’ve seen women who could run marathons the day after. The stereotype is that vaginal birth is “easier” than C/S, and possibly that was true a few decades ago [although I had no problem flying to the US 10 days after my first C/S in 1980, without assistance but with my new son] but the operative technology has improved dramatically. And, sometimes vaginal trauma, real or perceived, can alter women in ways they do not expect after an NSVD.

          • Anna T

            In the hospital where I delivered, women stayed 3 nights after a vaginal birth (with the option of earlier discharge), and a week after a C-section. I do believe there’s a reason why this is standard practice. Also, this isn’t valid research of course, but to my untrained eye it seemed the C-section moms were having a rougher time. So statistically I would still say that if you have an uncomplicated vaginal birth, your chances of a quick recovery are better than after a C-section.

            I did have many stitches after my first delivery, but I still wouldn’t swap them for recovering from surgery.

          • KT

            I had a much easier recovery from my c-section (emergency, but after no labor to speak of, so very much like scheduled physically) than my friend after her vaginal delivery with 3rd degree tears and improper healing along her scars. She was in physical therapy for months and has had to return recently years later. Me? I next to never think about my incision.

            I’d like to VBAC for my current pregnancy, but that’s more about wanting a large family than recovery concerns. My husband is actually quite pro-RCS soley because he thinks my recovery will be easier. I think the “you can’t say which method of delivery will provide an easier recovery for any given woman” line is very true. You can maybe generalize, but that’s only as good as far as generalizations go.

          • TDW

            I was told I could go home after night 3 of my c-Section. I opted to stay another night because it’s so nice having all the extra help! I had a fantastic recovery — very easy and felt wonderful immediately after. So, it probably is your ‘untrained eye’ as you say.

    • Staceyjw

      I know that with my second, all this is true for me as well. of course some people do those things simply because they work.

      This does not erase the fact that the NCB movement IS based on this stuff. Even when its subconscious, or not vocalized, NCBers beliefs are based on the ideas in the post above.

      People like you, your friends, and I, are NOT NCBers. You can do all of the things they promote without sharing the beliefs. Labeling all that partipate in BF, bed sharing, or having an unmedicated birth (etc) as NCBers is a disservice to those that aren’t part of the movement. It also waters down NCB ideals, and makes them sounds mainstream, when it’s anything but.

      • Anna T

        To tell you the truth I’m still not sure what a NCBer is, actually. Someone who adheres to all the ideologies described in the original post? Or just someone who thinks natural birth can be awesome? Because there are many people who think natural birth is awesome, without taking it overboard (as in feeling like a failure because of an epidural).

        • http://www.antigonos.blogspot.com/ Antigonos CNM

          To me, someone who wants an unmedicated birth, but remains flexible, is a sensible person. No one has the same kind of labor as anyone else, no one has the same pain threshold or reactions — or complications. It is the rigidity of the NCB ideology that I can’t accept. You MUST do this and avoid that, or something dreadful is bound to happen.

          The remark about women who follow doctors’ advice must be “uneducated” or stupid is itself stupidity. I know a great deal about delivering babies, and human anatomy and physiology, but the anatomy and physiology of my car is almost unknown to me. When something needs to be done to my car, I take it to a mechanic — he’s the expert even though it’s MY car. Ditto women who take expert advice from the appropriate expert.

          • Anna T

            I think both extremes – one saying that you must always question your doctor, and one saying that you must NEVER question your doctor – are wrong. I believe it’s OK to use discernment sometimes. After all, there are many “grey areas” in medicine (including childbirth issues), and different caregivers do things in different ways (some do VBACs, some don’t; some say we have too many C-sections, some say we don’t have enough). So when a doctor offers something one doesn’t want, I do believe it’s OK to ask, “is this the only way? What are my options?”

            I also found it extremely insulting to hear that “you insisted on giving birth without pitocin just so you could boast of your natural birth to your friends”. My friends are not the sort of people to brag about their births, thank you very much.

      • http://www.antigonos.blogspot.com/ Antigonos CNM

        My daughter, who just gave birth, has very large but inverted nipples. With her first child, she pumped and gave her own milk exclusively, but in a bottle for 4 months. This time, she hoped, with the assistance of nipple shields, to “really” breast feed. She’s been struggling. Ilan [the baby] does nurse with the shields, but it is obvious he prefers bottle nipples [not all that surprising]. Today my daughter said she is going back to the successful method she used with my granddaughter: pumping and feeding by bottle. I told her that [1] it’s the milk, not the manner of conveyance, and [2] whatever works for her is success. “Yes”, she replied, “but I’ve read that it’s better for the baby if he is actually suckled by me…I must not be doing something right…” I stopped her right away. “You have lots of milk. He’s eating well; he’s growing. That’s IT, period”.

        But I am annoyed that, even in a mild and mostly subliminal level, the Guilt Gremlins of the Lactivist Persuasion have affected her. She is basically a very pragmatic and sensible person.

        Grrrr….

        • Anna T

          As much as I love breastfeeding, I’m not sure I would have had it in me to do what your daughter does. Pumping sounds like such a hassle… if I could only feed my baby by pumping and giving a bottle, I don’t think I would go on with it for very long. I mean, it’s twice the work you have with formula: you have to clean bottles and nipples, AND pump several times a day.

          (Unless, of course, I could tell that formula is giving my baby adverse effects).

          I have a friend who became a mother roughly at the same time as I did. We both gave birth twice. I had two natural births, she had two C-sections. I breastfed into toddlerhood, she couldn’t breastfeed or pump at all due to extreme nipple sensitivity.

          Today, our kids are 5 and 3 years old. You can’t tell by looking at us who gave birth in which way, or which child was breastfed and which was not.

    • Ob in OZ

      I think you have it exactly right. If only people left it at that, instead of trying to convince others that what worked for them is the right way, the only way, and anything else is a failure.

  • T.

    Yes, I have noticed the curious american idea that if you happen to be born with pale-ish skin, you can’t state your opinion (I have had people in an online conversation telling me I was “whitesplaining” them vaccine when I told them that no, vaccine didn’t cause autism. Apparently they were African-American. Who knews in an internet forum?) nor show appreciation for other cultures (because if I enjoy curry or belly-dance that is “cultural appropriation”. Not joking).
    I am between amused and perplexed by this. I have started retorting that they should stop eating pizza henceforth, since I am Italian and I find that people who invaded my country in 1943 are now eating a dish created in honor of the Italian Flag (tomato=red, mozzarella=white, basil=green) insulting to my cultural tradition.
    The replies are endlessy amusing.

    • T.

      (to be precise: I do not consider people eating pizza an insult. Quite the countrary, I am honored and pleased they are enjoying something from my country. I also tend to find people who come in Italy (to live slow” as people who are giving my culture a high praise. But I am just weird that way)

      • http://www.antigonos.blogspot.com/ Antigonos CNM

        I was under the impression that pizza, like chop suey*, was a dish invented in the US by the relevant immigrants, and only later was “imported” to the country of origin of those immigrants.

        *Chop suey, which allegedly means “beggar’s bowl” was ostensibly invented when a cook in Chinatown dumped all the remnants of other dishes together and served it to a European who found it tasty and asked what it was called.

        • D.D.

          No, though there are “Italian Dishes” in US cousine that are unknown in Italy (Alfredo sauce is one of those).

          Pizza was invented in Napoli during the years between 1600 and 1800. The first pizzas were without tomatoes, with olive oil and salt. Legend says it was the 1889 when Raffaele Esposito invented the “traditional” pizza, with tomato and mozzarella in honor of queen Margherita. That pizza is called Pizza Margherita after the Queen.
          As many legend, that is probably not completely true, but pizza is indeed born in Italy :)

    • Zornorph

      “The people who invaded my country in 1943…” I could say a thousand things about that comment, but it would really be off topic. Other than to say my Dad was one of them.
      I don’t really care for the term ‘whitesplaining’ though I find it less offensive than ‘check your privilege’. But I have also seen that sort of cultural snobbery – it’s not the word I would use to describe it, but I know exactly what it means.

      • yugaya

        My grandfather was liberated after two years spent in a concentration camp over there in 1943. by your Dad and other “invaders” like him.

      • D.D.

        The point is not what soldiers did or did not in 1940s. It is how absurd the concepts of “whitesplaining” or “cultural appropriation” are. Cultures change continously, people talk to each other and explain stuff. They are normal process.
        But a lot of people seem to think that by being “pale” you can’t appreciate other cultures or have argument with “dark” people. But you also can’t be proud of your culture and affirm it because that is “cultural imperialism”.
        There is also the amusing idea that every white person is from the US or, at most, from some anglosaxon country. I swear people seem quite surprise when they find out it is not true.

  • Guest

    This article’s comment section has a lot of good examples of whitesplainin’.

    http://theflounce.com/home-birth-rich-white-lady-thing/

  • Dr Kitty

    Something I have noticed.
    My patients from higher SE groups tend to live in nuclear families, far from their parents and siblings and take extended maternity leaves. Breast feeding /AP makes sense. Because they don’t want to leave their baby with strangers anyway, so doing it all yourself makes sense.

    My patients from lower SE groups are more likely to live in multiple-generation households, or to have parents and big extended families nearby. If they work they take shorter maternity leaves, and even if they don’t work the expectation is that babies will be left with grannies, aunties and cousins from an early age, because that’s how childcare works- I take your kids today so you can work, you take mine tomorrow so I can go out for dinner. Formula makes more sense and AP makes NO sense to them, because they are perfectly aware that big families are an excellent resource, and babies won’t suffer if their mother leaves them with a relative while she does other things .

    Talking about a “family bed”,”EBF” and “AP” to a 16 year old sharing her bedroom with two younger siblings and her baby, and leaving the baby with her mum while she tries to finish high school …nope.

    • Hannah

      I hadn’t thought about the distance from family part of it, at all, but it makes a lot of sense.

      • http://www.antigonos.blogspot.com/ Antigonos CNM

        I’ve just spent most of the past 10 days at my daughter’s, helping with the baby and around the house. I didn’t have that with my own three, initially. I think it really does make a difference. When my daughter had her first baby, they were living in a very small rented flat, and she, her husband, and the baby moved in with us for nearly two months [we have a two storey "town house"] and spared her even the cooking and cleaning. It requires diplomacy, not to “take over” but to support instead, but I really think that, more than the physical effects, giving a new mother the confidence she needs is the main benefit of having family around right after birth [and after the brit!]

    • Young CC Prof

      Yup! And the extended-family model is how most human societies worked up until very recently. I wish we had that.

      Attachment parenting is, in fact … unnatural.

    • Ellen Mary

      But let us not romanticize allowing your children to be cared for by relatives. The relatives I have available to me have neither the desire, nor the education, nor the medical qualifications. Did I have the luxury to not get pregnant until I no longer had to rely on them because of biological education? Um Yes. But I consciously sacrificed early childbearing for independence.

      Just like women can choose Cesareans & Hospital births, I chose to raise my children so they would not be around cigarette smoke & lead paint & Yankee candles & many other bad habits of the previous generations.

      There is no evidence that mother care is worse than relative care, I would argue it is at least as good, as one often has to make sacrifices to utilize relative care.

      • Amy M

        Well sure, not everyone has relatives that can or want to watch their children. Not everyone has relatives that SHOULD watch their children. My parents live 4 states away, too bad for me. My mother-in-law was helpful as back up if the children couldn’t go to daycare because they were sick, but her own health wasn’t good enough to allow her to watch them daily, and now she’s passed, so its a moot point.

        I don’t think Dr. Kitty is suggesting that mother care is worse than relative care. I think she is saying that women who have relatives nearby (that are fit enough to watch babies/small children, and who are willing to do so), often make use of that resource. That’s all.

      • Dr Kitty

        My point was that people who think AP is the be-all and end-all are sometimes…not open to the idea that other people with other circumstances find that it ISN’T the easiest, best, most awesome child rearing method, and that the things that make it work for them aren’t big drivers for everyone.

        In other words…some people with privelege find it hard to understand that their priorities aren’t universal, and that for many people “good enough” is actually “good enough”…and that saying their mothers and sisters aren’t good enough to look after their children, you’re deeply insulting them, their family values and the way they were raised.

      • Trixie

        Sorry, what? Lead paint = Yankee candles?

        • Ellen Mary

          No that is just an example. Many MIC scented candles do contain lead in the wicks, but IDK if Yankees do. Lead paint is featured in my ILs house. Just saying, you have to put up with a lot, often, for ‘free’ childcare from relatives, so let us not romanticize it.

          • wookie130

            I believe Yankee candles are made from paraffin wax (rather than soy), and they do give off some rather icky smoke. Also, my understanding is that the wicks used by Yankee were zinc…

          • Dr Kitty

            Eh…we have a cat.
            I’d rather light a candle and open a window than smell cat food and cat pee (because we appear to have the only cat on the planet that PREFERS to use his litter tray to going outside, and comes in while I’m at work just to use it).

          • Jessica S.

            That entirely depends upon the families of any given individual. I’m not arguing against what you are saying, only that another person could easily say the opposite given their personal experience. Dr. Kitty wasn’t saying that people should let their extended families watch the kids, end of story. And besides, it’s always going to be a case of which is a more pressing need: finding child care or finding preferred child care. That’s an economic factor. When you have to get to work or risk losing your job and in turn, housing, food, etc., then naturally you’ll be less picky about the surroundings. If you can afford to pick and choose (I’m lucky enough to be in that position and it sounds like you are too), then that becomes a priority. What’s important to stress is that in both situations, there is no right or wrong necessarily. It’s relative – pun intended! Ha! :)

          • Jessica S.

            I want to add, however, that I don’t have as many comfortable family options, so I’m not one to romanticize that practice as a whole. It works for some and for others, it doesn’t.

          • Sue

            ”Lead paint is featured in my ILs house”

            That could be a problem if it was sanded off or crumbling into the soil and the children were eating mud pies, but its very existence shouldn’t be too big a deal, should it?

      • Jessica S.

        “There is no evidence that mother care is worse than relative care”

        Well, it’s a good thing no one suggested that.

        • Mishimoo

          I have anecdotes for that though! :P

          • Jessica S.

            (So do I! Sadly, a little from both at the same time. I’m happy to be done with childhood. :P)

        • http://www.antigonos.blogspot.com/ Antigonos CNM

          Dr. Ann Dally, a British psychiatrist who has written several books about motherhood, and women and pain, has also written about the benefits of the live-in nanny. Just like mothers, they can be very good, or very bad, or just inbetween, but she maintains it isn’t WHO mothers a child, so much as that he/she HAS a mothering figure. Biology isn’t everything, in her view.

  • Karen in SC

    The Feminist Breeder herself just spent a few weeks interning at an urban woman’s center in Kansas City, bringing her particular brand of “knowledge” to the black women served there.

    • Awesomemom

      There were also an amazing number of white women in the pictures she posted, makes me wonder where the women of color were that she was supposedly helping.

      • Ellen Mary

        If you look at old photos from Home Economics programs it is too funny how the academic ladies dressed compared to the people they were helping with the latest ‘knowledge’. Big Fur coats, hats, ornate shoes, etc.

    • Sue

      Interning as what, exactly? Scholar?

      • Karen in SC

        Not sure. I think she presented her VBAC class.

  • Guest

    I understand that because this is a blog post Dr. Amy’s use of attention-grabbing buzzwords is meant to be sensational. However, the underlying premise of colonizing and misappropriating the cultures and practices of Others is very real, and it is a phenomenon that manifests itself in a variety of ways throughout history. It is a theme that I encounter regularly in my academic research, and it is perhaps one of the reasons I’m so interested in this blog and its subjects. It is only from the leisure of a safe, healthy, civilized environment that one can romanticize the very real threats of the natural world.

    • Jessica S.

      “It is only from the leisure of a safe, healthy, civilized environment that one can romanticize the very real threats of the natural world.” Such a great statement. I was thinking this exact thing early today, wondering if it’s our (relative) lack of day to day decisions and situations that involve life and death matters, or basic survival matters, that afford us the time to construct these elaborate theories and ideologies that we try and foist upon each other.

      • Guest

        Absolutely. Certainly there is not just one single cause, but I’m sure a lack of real, pressing issues has a lot to do with it. Children who face real poverty, violence, familial instability, etc. face very real challenges in school and throughout their lives that are incredibly difficult to overcome. It makes silly little NCBers who complain about “hatting” or insist on BFing for years to ensure a single IQ point pretty trivial.

        There is nothing quite as inauthentic as a white suburban housefrau “going native” and actually trying to convince others that these are the most pressing issues facing our children. As inauthentic as it is, it’s still a luxury.

  • no longer drinking the koolaid

    If white folks wanted to do something about black maternal and infant mortality they might start with understanding food deserts and the lack of transportation. In Detroit, 1 in 3 families does not own a car. They need to rely on the buses, and the buses seldom run on time. Is it then any wonder that they can’t get to prenatal visits and call an ambulance to get to the hospital in early labor, or to get out of the house ina domestic violence situation?

    • Gene

      The prematurity rates among black women also persist across socioeconomic lines. There is a NICU doc from Memphis researching it. Prematurity is more common among wealthy, educated black women compared to their non-black counterparts and we aren’t sure why. There was an interesting Frontline episode on this phenomenon a few years back.

    • pinkyrn

      Actually the American Public Health folks are trying to address the reasons for these disparities. In other words, you cannot tell someone who lives in a dangerous neighborhood to go outside and take a walk for 30 minutes a day. Because that would be putting them in more danger.

      • Jessica S.

        Good point! Jeez, my world is too narrow. I must sheepishly admit that never occurred to me.

    • Cat10

      You are so right. My community, liberal Madison, WI, has excellent healthcare facilities and people pride themselves in being oh-so-liberal and inclusive. Yet Madison had THE WORST infant mortality rate for African American infants in the entire nation. We also have a lot of home birthers and natural birth advocates. And did I mention the non-vaxxers? Go figure. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/27/us/27infant.html

  • KarenJJ

    Apologies but my only comment before I head to bed is that there is a typo in the title “whiteplainin’” – missing an “s”.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Arrrgh!!!