Working Mother

Black Moms Are More Likely to Suffer from Postpartum Mental Health Problems—But Getting Help is Almost Impossible

Timoria McQueen Saba can’t predict what will take her back to the hospital room where she nearly died after delivering her oldest daughter. It could be the sound of something beeping or glimpsing a hospital gown—fragments of memories from the five days she spent recovering from a postpartum hemorrhage.

The harrowing aftermath took an immediate toll on her career. The former New York City makeup artist, who had worked on shoots with Candace Bushnell and Angie Harmon, was afraid to leave her home. She began having full-blown panic attacks on the subway. Often they would strike with no warning, leaving her confused and scared.

On the suggestion of her OB-GYN, she visited a therapist, who confirmed she was suffering from PTSD. Unable at first to find other moms who experienced similar symptoms, she found solace in online support groups for veterans who suffered from the disorder. They said her trauma reminded them of what they’d endured in combat missions.

She is far from alone. One in seven women will experience a mood or anxiety disorder during pregnancy or after she gives birth, such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychosis or PTSD. The statistics are even bleaker for African-American women like Timoria. A 2016 study showed that moms of color suffer from postpartum depression, for example, at a rate of 38 percent, compared with 13 to 19 percent for all moms.

What’s more, even if African-American women are correctly diagnosed with what’s commonly called a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, finding treatment

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