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Black Middle-Class Women and Pregnancy Loss

A Qualitative Inquiry

Lisa Paisley-Cleveland

Black Middle-Class Women and Pregnancy Loss: A Qualitative Inquiry is the first qualitative research case study of its kind on Black Infant Mortality (BIM) to focus on a target group of black American-born middle-class professional married women who have all lived through the experience of infant loss. This target group allows Lisa Paisley-Cleveland to examine the BIM phenomenon outside the poverty paradigm and issues attached to teenage pregnancy, as well as to explore contributing factors attached to the persistent black and white disparity in infant mortality rates, which according to CDC’s January 2013 report are 12.40 and 5.35 respectively.

This book raised the following question: given the disparity in the infant mortality rates among middle-class black and white women, are there factors attached to the pregnancy experience of middle-class black women that could help us understand the adverse birth outcomes for this target group?
While investigating the answer to this question, Paisley-Cleveland provides readers entry into the pregnancy experiences of eight women from pregnancy planning to infant loss, and the book examines feelings, events, circumstances, interactions, behaviors, culture and history embedded in their pregnancy stories to explicate possible factors connected to adverse birth outcomes. It links the women’s personal stories to clinical, and psychosocial factors, placing their experiences at the center of the research, and demystifying assumptions. The study’s narratives and conclusions are built into a literary structure which helps to make a complex subject relatable and understandable to a wide audience. Black Middle-Class Women and Pregnancy Loss will be an invaluable resource for medical professionals; professionals in public health, mental health, and social work; sociologists; and anyone working or invested in women's health.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 162Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/4
978-0-7391-7518-7 • Hardback • August 2013 • $85.00 • (£54.95)
978-0-7391-7519-4 • eBook • August 2013 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
Lisa Paisley-Cleveland is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Hunter College Department of Sociology in New York City, and founder and COO of Sharpervision Consulting (SVC).
Chapter 1: Early Stages Explored: Life Before and During Pregnancy
Chapter 2: Issues and Outcomes of Prenatal Care: It is Complicated
Chapter 3: Women’s Experience with Stress: Dangerous Burdens
Chapter 4: Fathers and Pregnancy Involvement: A Role of a Lifetime
Chapter 5: Precipitating Causes: Breaking Point
Chapter 6: Reflections on Loss, Healing and Resiliency: Labor of Loss and Sorrow
Chapter 7: Making Sense of it All: Expanded Observations
Chapter 8: Lessons Learned
Appendix A: Glossary of Terms
Appendix B: Biographical Data
Appendix C: Interview Guide
About the Author
This is a moving descriptive account of the pregnancy loss journeys of eight African American women living in eastern USA. . . .The author’s goals to describe and identify meaning among the participants’ lived experiences from pre-pregnancy to post-pregnancy loss were expertly achieved. The author elucidates the invisible, silent experiences and internal dialogue of African American women experiencing pregnancy loss. . . .This book has instructive value in the academic and practice settings.
Sociology of Health & Illness

In Black Middle-Class Women and Pregnancy Loss, Lisa Paisley-Cleveland exposes another one of the many hidden injuries of racism: black women are twice as likely as their less well-off white counterparts to deliver babies who die before age one. The eight moving pregnancy stories importantly challenge the prevailing stereotyped explanations of Black Infant Mortality (BIM) as due to poverty and or ‘personal irresponsibility.’ Instead this short, well-researched, and highly readable book tellingly exposes how for years institutionalized racism and internalized oppression have worked their way through the lives of women simply trying to build a family. By increasing the public awareness about BIM, the words of Dr. Paisley-Cleveland and the women who opened their lives to her will advance needed change in the health care system and wider society.
Miriam Abramovitz, Hunter College, CUNY and the CUNY Graduate Center

This is the first time that I have read a work about this subject matter that does not do the following, 1) place all the weight on the overarching social and health system institution or 2) place all the blame on the individual. The author effectively creates synergy between institutional and individual factors which creates a sense of hope, unlike other works that can create a sense of anxiety and hopelessness by making the problem seem too grand.
Xenia Acquaye, American Cancer Society