Since having different birth experiences, I can attest that I have experienced my fair share of the maternity system with both positive and negative experiences. I have witnessed how easy it is for women like myself to fall through the cracks if there are insufficient resources or knowledge to support them.
Black women are four times more likely to die during childbirth, and mixed-race women are three times more likely. Having experienced birth trauma during the pandemic, I almost became one of those statistics. The feelings of anxiety, helplessness, and fear that I endured were factors that could have led to worse outcomes.
I have been at the receiving end of forceful doctors and consultants, insisting I proceed with particular procedures or disregarding my experience and making judgements about my birth choices. I believed that I was well equipped to navigate these situations, yet I still felt affected by them. I felt that there weren’t many options available to discuss my experiences and so I created my own mum’s community interest group and joined with others.
I believe the key factor in providing equal outcomes for Black women is having the ability to advocate for yourself or having someone who you trust to do so on your behalf.
It is paramount that women have the resources and knowledge to make informed decisions about the care they wish to receive. It is the bare minimum to expect fair, respectful treatment and to be listened to during our care.
My advice to other mothers out there is to get support. Build your village (whether that be through friends, community groups and mental health services), and know what signs of poor mental health to look out for.
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