Now that you’ve confirmed you’re pregnant, you may be experiencing a wide range of expected and unexpected emotions and physical changes within your body.
Here are 7 tips to prepare you for your pregnancy journey:
1.Tune Out the Noise
More than likely, you’ve heard the devastating statistic that Black Women are 2 to 3 times more likely to die due to childbirth complications. Or that Black women have a higher risk of experiencing pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia. While it’s important that you are informed as you step into the care of physicians and often predominately white spaces, hearing these statistics about the pain that Black Women often endure can be traumatizing and highly anxiety provoking. We know that there is a disparity that impacts black women, usually due to systemic racism and implicit bias in health care systems, however there is no need to constantly dangle these statistics over your head, increasing stress and fear. Take this time to empower yourself with the care, support, and love that you need.
2. It Takes a Village…
Just as the proverb states “it takes a village to raise a child”, I also believe that it takes a village to support a mother. Pregnancy isn’t something that you have to do alone. Pregnancy and motherhood can often feel isolating, so this is one of the times in your life when support is crucial. The “village” is what you make it to be. Include family and friends, and community in the process of your birth plan and decide what you need to ensure you have the support you need. Think of it like you’re assembling a star-studded sports team and the goal you’re trying to reach is a safe pregnancy, labor, and birth. Also consider seeking therapy, especially if you experience anxiety or depression. Studies have shown that women who experience these mental health challenges, are less likely to suffer from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety if they actively engage in therapeutic treatment during pregnancy.
There are a variety of birth workers and birth advocates that exist to support mothers in their pregnancy and postpartum journey. Studies have shown that women with Doulas have less risk of preterm birth and labor complications. To clear up common confusion, here are the differences between a Doula and a Midwife.
Birth Doula: Provides physical, mental, and sometimes spiritual support to the mother and family. They can help to create birth plans, labor interventions to increase comfort and safety, and provide support throughout the overall birthing experience. Doulas also support the mother and family after the baby is born to ensure that the mother is taken care of, is healthy, and is adjusting to motherhood.
Midwives: Healthcare providers that provide medical support and intervention to ensure the health and safety of the mother and baby. They support with birth plans, the mother’s birthing choices, provide medical advice, and they can deliver babies.
Thankfully, doulas and midwives are more accessible now. Visit blackdoulas.com or sistamidwifedirectory.com for more information.
Joining a mother’s support group, is also a great option to increase support during this time. You can usually find them online, advertised at your doctor’s office, on social media, or at your local social services office.
3.Trust Your Gut
Some women report their doctors being insensitive. Examples of this include, feeling as if your doctos treats you as “a number” and not an individual person with unique needs and wants. Or feeling as though your doctor has no genuine interest in your well-being, and provides little time or care that an expectant mother needs. If your physician is giving you these vibes, trust your gut and speak up! If something doesn’t feel right within your body and it is not met with curiosity and concern, consider moving on to get a second opinion.
4.Don’t be Shy, Talk About Race With your Physician
This important and bold approach will allow you to gauge if your physician is knowledgeable about racial disparities and implicit bias within healthcare, and what they are doing to ensure the safety and wellness of their patients. Getting on the same page is important!
Stay tune next week for tips 5 through 7.
[Ife is a Pasadena Native, currently working as a mental health therapist providing therapy to individuals, ages 17-elder adults. She works from a holistic perspective and is passionate about supporting people with their health through food, nutrition, and sound healing.]