1. Educate yourself - Learn about what is and isn’t normal during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. As a black woman we are conditioned early on to “be strong”. This can lead to women overlooking serious symptoms as “just part of the process” be vigilant and do your research.
2. Be honest with your midwife - It is your midwifes job to guide you through any concerns or questions you may have during your pregnancy. Don’t be scared to ask questions and don’t discount anything as a “silly question”.
3. Ask your midwife about any conditions that are prevalent in black women so should anything arise you know what to look out for. These being - preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm labour, hypertension, fibroids etc.
4.Explore other forms of prenatal care such as doulas, mother and baby groups, independent midwives, health advocates etc.
5.Create your own birth plan - A mistake I made when I was pregnant is I had an expectation that my midwife would discuss with me about the birth plan. The day never came until at 36 weeks I asked “so when are we going to do a birth plan” and she just slid me a piece of paper and told me to fill it out. At that point I realised if I knew I would have came to her with my birth plan and discussed with her what I wanted for my birth.
6.Choose a suitable birth partner and discuss your birth plan with them - choosing a birth partner is major. Often when you are in labour you are in so much pain and under so many drugs that’s you can’t always advocate for yourself. When choosing a birth partner choose someone who will not only be able to support you through the birth but also advocate for you should any problems arise.
7.If you want a home birth let your community midwife know as soon as possible. Homebirths are handled by the homebirth team who actually do all your prenatal care for you from home which I actually found was better and more comfortable, should anything change they will make provisions in order for you to have the baby at the hospital.
8.During labour speak up - don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel something is wrong. You are the only person in that room who is going through what you are going through. If you feel you are not being heard ask to speak to someone else. During labour you are at your most vulnerable- therapeutic alliance is very important and it’s important to have chemistry with your care provide. If you feel the person can caring for you is not acting in your best interest request to be cared for by someone else.
9.During postpartum - lean on your family and friends. You want to make sure somebody is there to support you in the ways that you need around basics, like helping you get to the shower, making sure that you’re eating, and supporting you in voicing when something is wrong.
10.Attend all your postpartum checks and voice any concerns you may have post birth. Keep an eye on any healing scars. Don’t ever stay quiet because you don’t want to bother anyone. Early detection is always key for the best outcomes.
11. Be kind to yourself and allow room for change - during pregnancy, birth and postpartum your wants may change, your birth plan may change. Things may not go to plan, be open to it and always consider a plan b or c.
12. If you feel you were in any way mistreated during pregnancy, birth or postpartum FILE A FORMAL COMPLAINT. Do not be afraid to complain - Complaints are very important as they shape service provision. If you do not complain things will not get better for the next woman.
Stay safe Ladies🤍✨