10 Ways to Celebrate Pregnancy Amidst Maternal Mortality Crisis

Black expectant mothers must be aware of unnecessary dangers throughout pregnancy; however, this does not preclude a joyful experience. Embracing various ways to celebrate pregnancy can help make this time special and memorable for mothers-to-be.

It is well-known that several highs and lows mark pregnancy. But, many pregnant women find themselves languishing in their lows, unsure of how to achieve the highs they had anticipated throughout pregnancy. This can be especially true for Black pregnant women, who are more prone to experience complications during childbirth.

According to Dr. Cheyenne Bryant, Ph.D., psychologist and life coach, health knowledge is crucial for a healthy pregnancy and delivery, and this includes recognizing that Black women are three times more likely to die than white women during childbirth. It also involves detecting the indicators of preeclampsia, as Black women born in the United States are more prone to develop it.

They may also be frequently reminded of their other pregnancy-related deficiencies, such as inadequate insurance, problematic transportation, or lack of support. Add this to the normal tribulations of little to no parental leave, inaccessible child care, morning sickness, and a chronic formula shortage, and you have the makings of a traumatic and mentally draining pregnancy.

Despite all the obstacles Black pregnant women face, there are a number of positive factors that should be acknowledged. Here are ten ways pregnant Black women can experience joy.

1. Listen to the podcast Birthright.

Black pregnant women continue to have straightforward births daily, despite the prevalence of tales highlighting the risk of death, problems during labor, and gaps in care.

Bryant notes that an increased likelihood of mortality and tragedy during pregnancy does not mean that it will happen to you. Patients who are pregnant are taught to look for positive news among the negative. Websites such as Happy Parents Happy Babies and podcasts such as Birthright highlight the happy birth experiences of African-American parents.

In addition, increased coverage of birth deserts and unfavorable pregnancy outcomes has led to increased funding for unconscious bias training among clinicians and birth education projects. It also resulted in legislation such as the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, which aimed to increase investments in community care, improve maternal resources, and collect more information on the perinatal experience.

2. Identify resources.

Loss of control is one of the most painful aspects of pregnancy, according to Bryant, particularly when it comes to access. According to several surveys, a sensation of control affects your general health and stress levels.

Sometimes the key to finding joy throughout pregnancy is restoring control in whatever way makes sense to you. This begins with compiling a list of all necessary items, potential obstacles, and prospective resources.

Once the list has been compiled, share it with your trustworthy friends. They may be able to guide you in the direction of resources, give you a pep talk if the list is overwhelming, or offer to assist you with some tasks. Common sources of aid for pregnant Black women include 211 for assistance with medical expenses and Ride in Bliss or Charity Motors for transportation assistance. The Centering Healthcare Institute also provides comprehensive, person-centered prenatal care in a group environment.

3. Register for Irth.

If one of the primary factors negatively impacting your pregnancy is receiving subpar care from your doctor, it is sensible to find a new physician. Choosing a new provider may be difficult depending on how far along you are, but it is doable if you are vocal about your want to switch and ask people you know for referrals.

Irth App and other review boards provide comments from Black parents regarding their experiences with various hospitals, pediatricians, and physicians. These can be beneficial when selecting a provider for a new pregnancy or transferring practices during the course of the pregnancy.

4. Trust your body and connect with it.

According to somatic coach and author of Help!, Kelsey Domiana Ndour, pregnancy comes with a lot of views, advice, and second-guessing that can be overwhelming. I need a break from being a mother. She claims that something as easy as rubbing your hands together, laying your left hand on your heart, and closing your eyes can make a mental impact.

“You may feel a flutter or kick, or you may feel nothing at all; yet, this is part of the connection and trust. Because you and [your baby] are a team throughout birth and postpartum, this connection is crucial. Now you must begin collaborating,” says Ndour.

5. Submit an application for the Black Birth Equity Grant via Baby Dove.

Doulas are increasingly associated with enhancing not only the outcome of childbirth, but also a healthy and joyful pregnancy. Chanel Porchia-Albert, CEO of Ancient Song Doula Services and co-creator of JustBirth Space explains, “Doulas take on the responsibility of centering the expectant woman to ensure she has all she needs to flourish and go through the perinatal and postpartum phase without difficulty.”

Moreover, doulas can assist with overnight visits and bonding efforts between the parents and the child. During pregnancy and the transition into motherhood, the presence of a doula can help a woman feel validated.

A doula may or may not be affordable, depending on the pregnant individual’s financial situation or insurance coverage. Programs like Baby Dove’s Black Birth Equity Award can provide Black parents with the necessary support.

6. Have a nesting gathering.

Baby showers and gender reveals can be entertaining, but they do little to prepare mothers for the arrival of their children. In a viral Facebook post, a grandmother described how the community rallied together to provide her pregnant granddaughter with all of the necessary childbirth supplies.

They folded clothes, sterilized bottles, assisted with meal preparation, and discussed her delivery plan. Having all the activities completed, which often generates overwhelming stress, can contribute to a wonderful pregnancy moment.

7. Find a maternity center.

Notwithstanding the higher incidence of pregnancy and birth difficulties reported for Black pregnant women in the United States, studies indicate that pregnancy care delivered by midwives or birthing centers can improve pregnancy outcomes and postpartum care.

A report from the partnership between the Burke Foundation and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute found that pregnant patients who received care from midwives had fewer preterm births, fewer cesarean sections, fewer inductions, and better self-esteem and relationships with their environment.

There are few birthing facilities in the United States, but the American Association of Birth Centers database may help you locate one.

8. Foster your relationships.

Situational loneliness can lead to stress, anxiety, and even despair during pregnancy and parenthood. It is customary for Black women to maintain the image of the “strong black lady” by not sharing their issues with friends and family. If a lack of vulnerability stresses relationships, this can be both affirming and limiting.

Even with a stable romantic relationship, a 2015 study from Arizona State University indicated that fulfilling friendships have a greater impact on a mother’s happiness. Involving your friends in pregnancy milestone celebrations, maintaining an open line of communication, and being realistic about your expectations and needs can all contribute to maintaining happy and fulfilling friendships throughout pregnancy and beyond.

9. Register for the Brown Skin Brunchin’.

You are not alone if you are already lonely and in need of friendships.

Thankfully, applications such as Brown Skin Brunchin’, which links Black women and others of color with like-minded folks over brunch, make it simple to cultivate friendships. Melinated Mothers and Peanut are additional apps and networks useful for locating friendships and support.

10. Perform rites of passage.

It is not uncommon for many Black pregnant women to feel unprepared for the challenges of pregnancy. Certain rituals can aid in this regard. A Blessingway is a rite of passage that involves sharing reassuring parenting information.

It focuses on respecting your ancestors and transmitting the knowledge of the ladies in your family or circle. Ask ladies to bring a bead, and when they deliver it to you, they will impart their knowledge and string it onto a string to create a necklace, explains Ndour.

This necklace can be worn throughout the remainder of the pregnancy and during delivery. It serves as a reminder that she is never alone as she draws on the power of the ladies around her for support, she explains.

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