Undoubtedly, the journey of pregnancy is an intriguing blend of highs and lows. Yet, it’s a reality that many pregnant women find themselves lost in the lows, trying to rekindle the highs they once envisioned as part of their pregnancy. This is particularly true for pregnant Black women, who statistically face an elevated risk of complications during childbirth. However, amidst these challenges, it’s crucial to explore methods to celebrate pregnancy during the maternal mortality crisis, which can offer a renewed perspective and allow for a deeper connection with this special phase of life.
Dr. Cheyenne Bryant, Ph.D., a psychologist and life coach, said that health information is important for a healthy pregnancy and birth. This includes understanding that Black women have a mortality rate at birth that is at least three times higher than that of white women. It also means knowing the signs of preeclampsia, which is more common in American-born Black women.
They may also often be reminded of other problems with their pregnancy, like not having enough insurance, bad transportation, or insufficient support. Add this to the usual problems of having little or no parental leave, not being able to find childcare, getting sick in the morning, and a shortage of formula, and you have a recipe for a stressful and mentally exhausting pregnancy.
Still, many things are going for Black pregnant women that should be praised, despite all the things that are against them. Here are 10 ways that pregnant Black women can enjoy their pregnancy.
1. Listen to the podcast Birthright.
Even though there are stories about how Black pregnant women are more likely to die, have more problems during childbirth, and get less care, they still have easy births every day.
Bryant says that just because death and bad things are more likely to happen during pregnancy doesn’t mean they will. Pregnant people are told to look for good news among the bad. Sites like Happy Parents Happy Baby and shows like Birthright talks about how Black parents had a good time giving birth.
Also, more news about birth deserts and bad pregnancy outcomes has led to more money for teaching providers about implicit bias and for birth education programs. It also led to laws like the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, which aimed to put more money into community care, improve services for mothers, and collect more information about the perinatal experience.
2. Identify tools.
Bryant says that feeling out of control is one of the hardest parts of being pregnant, especially when it comes to access. Some reports say that having a sense of control affects your general health and how stressed you feel.
Finding joy in pregnancy can sometimes come down to regaining control in any way that makes sense to you. To get started, jot down a list of everything you’ll need and potential obstacles and resources.
Once you’ve made the list, give it to the people you trust. If the to-do list looks too daunting, they may be able to offer suggestions for more resources, encouragement, or even hands-on assistance. Some places that can help Black pregnant women with common problems are 211 for help with medical bills and Ride in Bliss or Charity Motors for help getting around. Centering Healthcare Institute is also a place to get person-centered, complete prenatal care in a group setting.
3. Join the Irth.
If getting bad care from your doctor is one of the main things that is making your pregnancy hard, it makes sense to find a new one. Depending on how far along you are, it might be hard to find a new provider, but you can do it if you say out loud that you want to change and ask people you know for suggestions.
Review boards like Irth App allow Black parents to talk about their experiences with different hospitals, nurses, and doctors. They can help you choose a provider for a new pregnancy or switch practices in the middle of your pregnancy to make the experience better.
4. Trust your body and get to know it.
A somatic coach and author of Help!, Kelsey Domiana Ndour, says that pregnancy comes with a lot of views, advice, and second-guessing, which can be overwhelming. I need a break from being a parent. She says that something as easy as rubbing your hands together, putting your left hand on your heart, and closing your eyes can help your mind.
“You might feel a flutter or kick or not feel anything at all. Either way, that’s part of the trust and bond. This link is the most important thing, because you and your baby are a team during labor and after the baby is born. “You have to start working together,” says Ndour.
5. Baby Dove is the place to go to get the Black Birth Equity Grant.
Doulas have become more and more linked to a better birth and a smooth and happy pregnancy. Chanel Porchia-Albert, founder of Ancient Song Doula Services and co-creator of JustBirth Space, said, “Doulas take on the role of centering the pregnant woman to make sure she has what she needs to thrive and move through the perinatal and postpartum period smoothly.”
Doulas can also help with overnight visits and help the parents and baby get to know each other. Having a doula around during pregnancy and the change into motherhood can make them feel more confident.
Getting a doula may or may not be possible, depending on how much money the pregnant person has or what their insurance covers. Baby Dove has programs like the Black Birth Equity Grant that can help Black parents get the help they need.
6. Have a party for nesting.
Baby parties and finding out the baby’s gender can be fun, but they don’t do much to help moms feel ready and at ease when the baby comes. A grandmother’s Facebook post about her community rallying around her expecting granddaughter to ensure she had what she needed during her pregnancy and delivery went viral.
They helped her fold clothes, clean bottles, make meals, and talk about her birth plan. Doing all the chores, which can cause a lot of stress, can be a happy time for pregnant women when they do it with others.
7. Find a place to give birth.
Even though Black pregnant women in the US have a higher rate of pregnancy and birth complications, studies show that care during pregnancy from midwives or birthing centers can lead to better pregnancy results and care after delivery.
A report from a partnership between the Burke Foundation and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute found that pregnant women who were cared for by midwives had fewer preterm births, fewer cesarean sections, and fewer inductions. They also had better self-esteem and a better relationship with their environment.
Even though there aren’t many birthing centers in the United States, the American Association of Birth Centers list may help you find one.
8. Take care of your friends.
Situational loneliness is a problem that can happen during pregnancy and parenting. It can lead to stress, anxiety, and even sadness. Black women often don’t talk about their problems with their friends and family because they want to keep up the image of the “strong black woman.” When a lack of openness strains relationships, it can be both affirming and limiting.
Even if a mother has a good relationship with a partner, a 2015 study from Arizona State University found that successful friendships are still more important to her happiness. Including your friends in important moments of your pregnancy, keeping the lines of communication open, and being honest about your goals and needs can all help you keep happy and fulfilling friendships during and after your pregnancy.
9. Join the Brown Skin Brunchin’ group
You’re not the only one who already feels lonely and wants to make friends.
Brown Skin Brunchin’, an app that helps Black women and other people of color meet people with similar interests over brunch, makes it easy to make friends. Melinated Moms and Peanut are two other apps and groups that can help you make friends and get help.
10. Take part in passing rites.
Many Black pregnant women feel like they aren’t ready for the obstacles they will face. Some practices can help with this. A Blessingway is a rite of passage in which mothers share advice that can make people feel better.
The focus is on honoring your ancestors and passing on the women’s wisdom in your family or group. Ndour says to ask women to bring a bead. When they give it to you, they can tell you something wise and put it on a string to make a chain.
You can wear that necklace for the rest of your pregnancy or while you’re giving birth. It’s like her armor and a sign that she’s never alone, especially when she needs help from the strong women around her.
Meaningful articles you might like: What to Expect from Fetal Movements During Pregnancy, Top Pregnancy Concerns (and Why You Shouldn’t Worry), How to Stay Away from Hidden Toxins During Pregnancy