The maternal health of a Black birthing person begins the moment they are born. The ways in which a person grows up thinking about maternal mental health ultimetly affects their maternal mental health. Oftentimes, Black communities overlook this important aspect of birthing people’s health. Black Womens Health imperative held a webinar addressing these shortcomings and discussing ways to combat them. Filled with gut-wrenching testimonials and encouraging advice, this webinar is a must-watch.
Like almost everything in life, maternal mental health begins in the family unit. Many Black birthing persons do not have adecuate access to maternal health resources after birth, or even before and during birth for that matter. La-Keya Williams, a licesned therapist who shared her personal experiences with birthing, explained how she had to question whether she would even make it out of her pregrancy alive. That is how low the standards of healthcare are for Black birthing people. Williams asked multiple times for her doctors to perform a Caesarean section, but her requests were ignored. Instead, the doctors decided to induce her labor when they realized that the baby had to come out immediately and forced Williams to undergo a traumatic birth, which resulted in the injury of her newborn. Even then, the doctors tried to blame Williams’ body for their mistake, citing “obesity '' as the cause of the traumatic birth, while the real cause was Williams’ inability to control what happened to her own body.
Williams’ story is not uncommon. It is not unheard of. Instead, it is known all too well by the Black birthing community. Jimmy Bonds, the husband of La-Keya Williams and the father of their two children, explains how he felt completely blocked out from his wife’s pregnancy. The doctors did not include him in any of the conversations they had with Williams, and Bonds had to learn much of the support he needed to provide for Williams on his own. This exclusion only adds to the cycle of trauma for Black birthing people where they often have to deal with an unjust healthcare system all alone, and are left to deal with the aftermaths with little to no attention on their mental health.
Black birthing people deserve better. Black birthing people deserve to feel safe and protected by their healthcare providers as they prepare to bring a child into the world. Black birthing people deserve to get support from their partners, their faimilies, their friends, without having to ask for it. Black birthing people deserve to know that they will make it out alive when they come to a healthcare provider. These simple yet essential requests should not be the dream, they should be the standard. We need to demand more, and that starts with holding discussions, partnering with community organizations, and informing ourselves on all the current issues that affect us daily.
We hope this story inspires you to demand more. Please take some time from your day to watch the full webinar here! Your journey to FEEL well with Bloomwell starts today.
The Bloomwell Team