Shalon Irving was an esteemed epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service. She had two doctorates and two master’s degrees. She loved to travel. When she became pregnant, she took care of herself and was excited for motherhood.
But three weeks after giving birth, Shalon became one of the disproportionately high number of Black women to die from pregnancy complications in the U.S. She died in 2017 after repeatedly telling her health care providers she didn’t feel well.
“Shalon was very educated. She was totally on top of her health,” says her mother, Wanda Irving. “She kept telling her doctors something was wrong and she was totally ignored. She was seen as an unwed Black mother and given no more credibility than that.”
Shalon had devoted her career to eliminating disparities in health care, a legacy that Wanda Irving is continuing with a nonprofit she founded with her daughter’s best friend, Bianca Pryor. Their organization,Dr Shalon’s Maternal Action Project, is releasing a new app called Believe Her to provide a safe space for Black mothers and their loved ones to connect with a peer support network.
“Our mission is to increase awareness for theBlack maternal health crisis并促进基于证据的策略，改善黑母亲，分娩人和家庭的健康结果，“非营利组织的联合主任普赖尔说。或者，因为欧文把它放了：“我们希望我们的女性听到，有价值，看到和相信。”
Launching at theBlack Maternal Health Conference本周，她认为她是黑人女性支持黑色母亲，挑战结构种族主义和拯救生命的宣传和技术在越来越多的宣传和技术方面的一部分。
More than 700 women die from pregnancy complications every year in the U.S., but Black mothers arethree timesmore likely to die than white mothers, according to the CDC. The disparity worsens with age and education. Black women over the age of 30 are four times more likely to die than white women in the same age group. Black women with a college degree are five times more likely to die than their white counterparts.
“悲惨地，我们知道，三分之二的怀孕相关死亡是可以预防的，”万达巴菲尔德博士说Division of Reproductive Healthat the CDC. “Many deaths stem from missed opportunities to address systemic problems like chronic stress, provider bias and poor access to health care.”
“Despite the education, general knowledge and opportunities that Shalon had, there was still a struggle in terms of being heard when she had concerns around pregnancy,” says Barfield.
CDC推出了它的Hear Her鼓励提供者和亲人倾听孕妇的担忧，更好地了解警告标志的活动。这样做，快速行事可以帮助拯救生命。该活动帮助激发了她的感受，这有助于黑人母亲匿名和私下提出问题并分享信息 - 这是一种强大的方式来解放斗争并抵消经常消除的医疗文化。该应用程序是由iRel8, makers of an anonymous peer empowerment platform for mental wellness using multiple Microsoft developer tools.
“People like Wanda [Irving] and Bianca are breathing life into tragedies like Shalon’s story and doing antiracist work to link people together and validate their truth,” she says. “They are the ones living and breathing this experience, not medical professionals like myself. They are the experts.”
数据也有帮助。最近studyof women undergoing a cesarean section at UNC Medical Center found that Black and Hispanic women received less pain medication and fewer pain assessments and reported higher pain scores than white and Asian women.
“That was a very concrete example of why we need a lot of training and learning about racism,” Verbiest says. “We have to hold people accountable and say, ‘You don’t get paid unless your outcomes are the same for everybody.’”
欧文和普赖尔是越来越多的黑人女企业家，创造了新的产妇健康技术，包括Irth, an app for finding prenatal, birthing, postpartum and pediatric reviews from Black and brown women.Mahmeeis a maternity and infant care management platform prominently funded by professional tennis player Serena Williams, who分娩后几乎死了。
Zoula.一个应用程序,连接黑人母亲和头脑lth professionals in local communities, was founded by Yale University students who studied the historical exploitation of Black women in medicine and continuing disparities in maternal mortality today.
“It opened our eyes that it isn’t just about history, but about right now,” says Chika Ogbejesi, chief marketing officer at Zoula. “And realizing that, as Black people, the only way to fix these problems is doing it ourselves.”
But first, Irving had to grieve her enormous loss while raising Shalon’s daughter, Soleil. For two years, Irving sat with her granddaughter by a window near a portrait of Shalon, wishing for her to come home. She now sees Shalon’s energy and determination in Soleil, who is four, loves dance and gymnastics, and asks why her mother “had to go.”
“It breaks my heart because I have no answer for that,” Irving says. “I never imagined my life without my daughter.”
Over the years, she and Pryor channeled their grief into fierce advocacy for equitable maternal health. After forming their nonprofit in 2019, they hosted roundtables with Black mothers who had struggled to be heard during pregnancy and Black grandmothers grieving for daughters who died during or after giving birth.
在国会中作证为支持涉及母亲危机的法案，今年重新推荐黑色母体健康Momnibus 2021。她在谈话中在一个叫做“How the U.S. medical community fails Black mothers。”
Pryor dove into launching the nonprofit, engaging with stakeholders and envisioning the app, on top of being a mom and working a busy job. She had been pregnant with her son at the same time Shalon was pregnant.
“I’m reminded in all this pain of how much I miss my homegirl,” says Pryor, who became friends with Shalon in graduate school at Purdue University. “This is the purpose. This is why I keep doing this. It’s to pour all of that pain into something that will help other mothers and birthing people, so they don’t have to experience it.”