It was on a Sunday evening in August when she felt “mild discomfort” that stopped her right in her tracks: she was in labor.
“My husband, mother and I jumped into action. I insisted on cooking a meal — I had to keep busy, and I refused to be hungry while giving birth,” she wrote in an Op-Ed on CNN.com. As I stirred a pot of pasta and chopped up vegetables, I fell into a routine. Every 7 or 8 minutes, I stepped away from the kitchen and found a quiet place to breathe through the contractions.”
A few hours later, she found herself in her dimly lit bedroom about to give birth. She never thought she would have found herself in that predicament. As a firm believer in modern medicine, she couldn’t have imagined risking the health of herself and her baby by choosing to give birth at home.
So, why did she decide to do so?
According to her, she conceived her first child in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. “It was a scary time to be pregnant, or anywhere near a hospital. Layered on top of all that was my fear that I would not make it out of childbirth alive. I had somehow come to view childbirth, something as old as humankind, as a life-threatening event.”
She further explained that anxiety got the best of her. She couldn’t see herself at a hospital, unable to advocate for herself, and she often felt ignored and dismissed by her doctor’s office, so she decided to find somewhere else to help her during her pregnancy.
“Even when I found another doctor, those visits felt perfunctory and isolating. I was repeatedly asked whether I had any questions during the brief 30-minute visits. And I did. But I would realize later, as a first-time mother, I often didn’t know what I didn’t know. I hesitated to bring up my experiences and discomfort, unsure whether they were worth mentioning or indicative of more serious problems.”
She then found through research the pros and cons of medical interventions. She would then try to find evidence that she would feel safe and trusted so that she could make the best decisions for her and her child. Furthermore, she knew about the dangers Black women face during pregnancy and childbirth.
“What would happen if women were allowed to truly embrace choice in their care?” she questioned in the piece. “What would happen if midwives, doulas and doctors worked in concert to keep more women and babies alive without the stigma? What would happen if Black women’s birth stories were not tales of trauma but of joy?”
She continued: “The cause of this deadly racial disparity in maternal health is complicated. Health disparities, racism and lack of access to high quality care all contribute, experts say. The solution must be multi-faceted and centered on care — not just medicine.”