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Maternal Health in Black and White []


By Heather Tirado Gilligan, California Health Care Foundation, April 26, 2021

Despite an induced labor necessitated by the potential danger of preeclampsia, Morine Cebert Gators had a beautiful birth experience.

Cebert Gators, who is Black, searched diligently for a Black ob/gyn provider when she moved from North Carolina to Knoxville, Tennessee. She was mid-pregnancy, had recently finished her PhD in nursing, and was having no luck finding a doctor who looked like her. Googling and joining mother’s groups didn’t get her closer to her goal, she told Kimberly Seals Allers, host and creator of the podcast Birthright (Seals Allers’s organization, Narrative Nation, is a CHCF grantee). “I looked up my insurance provider . . . and, of course, Dr. Welch-Charles was at the end of the list.” Cebert Gators searched for her photo online. “I saw her brown skin and I was like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God!’”

Her doctor, Shenika Welch-Charles, MD, was the only Black ob/gyn practicing in Knoxville. Welch-Charles understood the risk factors particular to women of color and flagged a potential preeclampsia diagnosis early, when routine third trimester tests detected high protein levels in Cebert Gators’s urine.

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