I just watched a video of Miriam Zoila Pérez (The Radical Doula) giving a Ted talk on racism and the effect on pregnant women of colour and how maternity care can alter the effects. First of all, wow… it makes so much sense. Miriam begins by describing effects of your nervous system sending a flood of hormones to your blood stream, including cortisol and adrenaline, and what that looks like in your every day human. It’s not a good thing. Heightened levels of stress is not good in anyone.
Now imagine you are a pregnant woman, a woman of colour, a lesbian or trans man. Imagine the daily experience of having those hormones flooding your body. Now imagine the effects on the babies. Again, it’s not good. But that is exactly what is happening as a result of everyday racism. The rates of maternal and infant mortality for black women are significantly higher than the rates of their “equal” (in every way but the daily racism really) white counterparts. The babies are born smaller. The outcomes are simply not as good.
Miriam introduces us to a method of maternity care that she calls, “The JJ Method,” (named after Jennie Joseph, a rockin’ midwife), that is mother centred maternity care. The maternity clinic works as a team, beginning from the moment a mother walks through the front door. Every staff member is trained on how to support, educate, and empower these women, and the results have been amazing. While women wait to get in to their appoint, they receive childbirth education and resources!
I can’t tell you everything that was said in the video, because I think you need to watch it. Everyone needs to watch it. Maternity care is not just about the OBGYN, midwife or support from a doula. It is about every interaction that a woman experiences in the maternity care facility she decides to go to. Believe it or not, maternity care is about the way the general public treats pregnant people! Specifically women of colour and visible minorities.
Now, watch the video. Watch the video and share it with everyone you can. This is incredibly important information that everyone needs to hear.