Why do I have to fear I will be mistreated by people who I should trust? Why do I get looked down on from health care professionals when I attend my antenatal appointment? Why do people make assumptions that I don’t have a job, I’m a single mother or don’t know who’s the father of my child? Why do they believe that either me or the father of my child smokes or takes some form of drugs? Why do they look at me with disgust? Why is it that when I think something is wrong I get brushed off like I’m making things up? Why do they treat me differently, brief conversations, closed questions, why?
Why did nobody tell me about the extra classes, support and facilities which are available to me?
Do I look like a monster, do I?
I feel just like you, I am human, I am a woman, I am pregnant, I am black and I am proud, but what I go through daily makes me fear that my baby has to suffer this with me as he grows inside me, my beautiful baby feels my anxiety, feels my pain.
Black mother, you are beautiful, you are not a monster and I wish for you to have a healthy pregnancy.
Studies have shown that racism can harm you and your unborn child, learn more here.
I understand that there are culture barriers in the birth world which can make you feel alone, even when you do have support from family and friends. I want to tell you that if you feel this struggle don’t sit there and go through it, there are ways that you can help yourself. We have so much information at the tip of our fingers to seek further information and support through pregnancy and beyond. Find out about pregnancy classes local to you. If you feel mistreated, ask to be seen by someone else. You have a choice and don’t have to continue to endure this, change your health care provider if necessary to help you get the care you need and want because “yes!” you are human. Don’t be afraid to talk up for yourself. If something don’t feel right, make sure you get to the bottom of what that may be. The rate of infant mortality/maternal death for a black mother and child is higher than any other race, so I want you to push the barriers that come your way with love. Love yourself that little bit more and take control of your care because I don’t want for you to add to that number. You are important, you are worthy, let’s reduce the statistics and make a change.
You can read about specific antenatal interventions for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) pregnant women at high risk of poor birth outcomes in the United Kingdom: a scoping review here.
Chronic stress raises amounts of cortisol, a hormone that at elevated levels triggers labour. It can also cause an inflammatory response that restricts blood flow to the placenta, stunting infant growth. But it’s not just stress during pregnancy that matters: Health experts now think that stress throughout the span of a woman’s life can prompt biological changes that affect the health of her future children. Stress can disrupt immune, vascular, metabolic, and endocrine systems, and cause cells to age more quickly.
All of these effects together create what scientists call “allostatic load,” or “the cumulative wear and tear on the body’s systems owing to repeated adaptation to stressors,” according to a 2006 study published by Arline Geronimus and others in the American Journal of Public Health. Geronimus, a University of Michigan professor, developed what she calls the “weathering” hypothesis, which posits that black Americans’ health deteriorates more rapidly than other groups’ because they bear a heavier allostatic load. “These effects may be felt particularly by Black women because of ‘double jeopardy’ (gender and racial discrimination),” Geronimus and her co-authors noted. (Infant mortality is just one of many forms of disease that fall disproportionately on black Americans. The list includes cervical cancer, asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Read more.
A positive mindset goes a long way!
Black mother, you are a strong and capable woman, trust your instincts to know what you need. You are beautifully and wonderfully made, the experience of pregnancy and birth is a great gift. Breathe slowly and deeply to relax your muscles and bring oxygen to your baby, this is what your body was designed to do.
Your body is not broken, you can do this, you will soon meet your beautiful baby. You can do this exactly as nature intended. You deserve a easy, uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. Your baby is happy and healthy, you are in complete control of what is going on around you. You will give birth in safety, follow your instincts and give birth the way you desire. Be ready and prepared for your birthing experience, visualise yourself handling everything beautifully, inhale peace, exhale tension. You love your baby and are doing all that is necessary to bring about a healthy birth. Pregnancy is natural and your body has been perfectly designed for this. Your pregnancy will go exactly as it should, be ready and prepared for childbirth.
You deserve this wonderful pregnancy, this wonderful birth and your wonderful child!
Black Mother, love yourself that little bit more and take control of your care because I don’t want for you to add to that number. You are important, you are worthy, let’s reduce the statistics and make a change.