When she was finally called back, a doctor dismissed her concerns as normal pregnancy symptoms, Cottom said.
Later that night, Cottom said she returned to the hospital for continued pain and an ultrasound revealed she had two large tumors. Cottom gave birth to a daughter that night who died shortly after her first breath.
“What happened is both traumatic but not singular, it happened to a lot of Black women,” Cottom said on Thursday’s episode of “Red Table Talk,” which focused on the “Invisibility of Black Women.”
“At every step of the process no one really took seriously that I knew what was happening to me,” she said.
Cottom’s appearance on the Facebook Watch series, hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow and her mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris, comes as the Black maternal health crisis receives renewed attention from federal lawmakers and celebrities.
“I’ve heard countless stories of women telling their doctors they were experiencing pain, only to be ignored,” Harris wrote in the letter “Dear Black Women” published in Blavity. “Stories of women trying to talk about their postpartum depression, only to be dismissed and sent home. In the medical field, implicit bias is why Black women can speak up and still not be heard.”
On “Red Table Talk,” Banfield-Norris shared her own challenging experience with pregnancy and childbirth during Thursday’s episode.
She said she was not treated well when she was pregnant with Smith despite her father being the head of anesthesia at the hospital.
“I was denied the pain that I was having at the time,” Banfield-Norris said, recalling the hospital staff saying to her “Oh it’s not that bad. Just be quiet.”
Activist Tamika Mallory also appeared on the “Red Table Talk” episode and said being pregnant at 18 was so traumatic that she decided not to have anymore children.
“They treated me really bad…,” Mallory said. “My water leaked for a month. It was just so much trauma that after that I was like ‘never again.'”
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform highlighted the issue last week in the hearing “Birthing While Black: Examining America’s Black Maternal Health Crisis.”
Democratic Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, chairwoman of the committee, said the country needs to acknowledge that its health care system was “built on a legacy of systemic racism and mistreatment of Black people.” Maloney recognized the Black congresswomen that have written bills to combat the health care bias that Black women face.
Maloney urged Congress to advance legislation addressing the Black maternal health crisis to the Senate and then to Biden’s desk.
“Health equity for Black birthing people in attainable as long as we address racial disparities with the urgency, empathy and focus that this issue requires,” Maloney said.
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.
Source: CNN – US News