In 2018, The Center for American Progress reported that African-American women are three to four times more likely to die from childbirth than non-Hispanic white women, and socioeconomic status, education, and other factors do not protect against this disparity. Celebrities like Beyonce and Serena Williams have also helped to bring awareness to these claims, as they both shared the trauma surrounding their emergency C-sections in their respective documentaries Homecoming, and Being Serena.
Additionally, Black mothers' anxiety surrounding childbirth has increased significantly during COVID-19, due to hospitals limiting the number of people that can enter the delivery room, leaving many expectant moms feeling defenseless and unsupported. In tandem with that, a recent meta-analysis researching over 20 years of studies revealed Black patients were 22 percent less likely than white patients to receive any pain medication as they were perceived to have a higher tolerance for pain, have thicker skin, and less sensitive nerve endings.
On the other side of the statistics and fears, is holistic doula, and founder of Mama Glow, Latham Thomas. The Oprah Super Soul 100's Teacher established the first company to offer doula support at every stage along the childbearing continuum - including fertility doula service for women looking to conceive. Her company, which currently has over 400 doulas worldwide, has been at the helm of this resurgence of Black women reclaiming their birth experiences and seeking midwives and doulas to assist them in various stages of their pregnancy.
Here's what the author shared with us the state of home births during COVID-19, how we can show up for Black moms, and self-care:
The Current State Of Home Births
"They're a bunch of clients who were primed for a home birth, but systemically, midwives of color have been marginalized. Dating back to the 1600s, Black slaves acted as midwives and doulas until the mid to late 1700s. When obstetrics was introduced into America, white male physicians replaced midwives, and by the 1800s, legislation was created to ban midwives from practice altogether, and in some states, midwifery is still illegal. So, they are working at their fullest capacity and because there's not so many. Our county has created legislation that's undermined the sustainability of midwives and midwifery, so, unfortunately, it's not accessible to everyone."
How Expectant Mothers Can Stay Encouraged
"While there is a one support person rule that some hospitals have enacted, there are many things that a doula can assist you [with] via Zoom during childbirth. And if you're a single mom or single by choice, you can still bring your doula to act as your one support person.
"This is a challenging time, but it's also an exciting time in how you can prepare yourself in this process. It shouldn't be about being afraid but feeling empowered; I really want Black women to know that reclaim joy, I know tons of people who are having amazing births at this time. We can't allow fear to seep into our consciousness."
"It shouldn't be about being afraid but feeling empowered; I really want Black women to know that reclaim joy, I know tons of people who are having amazing births at this time. We can't allow fear to seep into our consciousness."
For Moms Who Can’t Afford A Doula
"There are doulas everywhere that do community-based work, and they will work with people regardless of the rate. This is a part of our scope of service at Mama Glow; it's my duty to put you in contact with someone who can help you even if I can't. We also have new doula trainees, and those doula services are much less expensive."
How We Can Support New Moms During This Time
"When thinking about Black mothers and how we are as a culture, we're with our people. We don't do this alone, we're a community that raises our children together, and not having that village surrounding us right now can impact new moms mentally. They're struggling; they don't have the support. There's no one cooking for you, holding the baby while you shower - we need to show up for them.
"I'd suggest sending them gift cards for groceries and having daily Zoom calls to check in on them so that the mom sees people every day, so if she has markers for postpartum depression, they're being seen. They should also consider reaching out to a licensed healthcare partner, as many therapists are offering that service online, with a sliding scale so they can work with you from home."
"For us, self-care is not just a frivolous thing, it's a necessity that allows us to combat things that can fry us emotionally."
What Self-Care Should Look Like For Black Moms
"I want us to figure out what self-care rituals that you can practice daily so that you can design a life you don't have to escape from. You might need to declare, 'I need a nap. I'm going to take my iPad in the bathtub and watch my favorite show, or I'm going to throw on some Beyonce and twerk.' We need to explore happiness. Recently, self-care for me has been putting together my 'stop doing list' where I proclaim what I won't take in. Black mothers accumulate so much.
"As I was thinking about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, I couldn't help but appreciate that my 16-year-old child son is home with me during this time. I sleep at night soundly, because I know where he is. The spikes of anxiety Black mothers face when we think about the safety of our children can destroy our nervous system. We need to think about the stress level that exacerbates our mental health; for us, self-care is not just a frivolous thing, it's a necessity that allows us to combat things that can fry us emotionally. I want us to practice self-preservation and self-love and use it as a model for ourselves and our children."
For more of Latham, follow her and Mama Glow on Instagram.
Featured image via Latham Thomas/Instagram
Originally published on May 22, 2020
Dubbed one of the "21 Black Women Wellness Influencers You Should Follow" by Black + Well, Yasmine Jameelah continues to leave her digital footprint across platforms ranging from Forever 21 Plus, Vaseline, and R29 Unbothered discussing all things healing and body positivity. As a journalist, her writing can be found on sites such as Blavity, Blacklove.com, and xoNecole. Jameelah is also known for her work shattering unconventional stigmas surrounding wellness through her various mediums, including her company Transparent Black Girl. Find Yasmine @YasmineJameelah across all platforms.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
2023 has become the year of celebrity breakups with headlines breaking left and right about celebs filing for divorce or ending high-profile relationships. The latest couple to announce their dissolution? British actress Jodie Turner-Smith. TMZ reported that Jodie has filed for a divorce from her husband, Dawson Creek alum Joshua Jackson.
As far as her reason for calling it quits, Jodie cited "irreconcilable differences," according to TMZ, and has requested joint custody of the couple's daughter, Juno Rose Diana Jackson. Late last year there were rumblings of there being "trouble in paradise" for the couple after the media realized they were no longer following each other on Instagram.
Those rumors were more than laid to rest when Jodie and Joshua went to the 2023 Oscars together earlier this year, and even more recently, when they celebrated her birthday together last month during the September unveiling of the Lotus Emeya.
Jodie Turner-Smith celebrates her birthday with husband Joshua Jackson at the unveiling of the new fully-electric Lotus Emeya on September 07, 2023 in New York City.
Brian Ach/Getty Images for Lotus
Despite seeming particularly happy and in love, perhaps the writing was already written on the wall even then. In the past, Jodie has been very celebratory publicly about her love for her estranged husband, even boldly recounting their love story for the books in a 2021 interview with Seth Meyers.
When Jodie and Joshua met, it was while at his birthday party in 2018. Their relationship was hot and heavy from the start, with Jodie openly noting that they began as a "one-night stand." During her 2021 interview with Seth Meyers, she jokingly referred to their love story as a "three-year one-night stand." She shared:
"First of all, I saw him before he saw me and when I saw him, I was like, 'I want that.' And then when he saw me, I just pretended like I didn't see him. He had to yell across the room to me, and I was wearing this T-shirt from a movie called Sorry to Bother You and [actress] Tessa Thompson plays a character called Detroit, and she has this T-shirt that says, 'The Future Is Female Ejaculation.'
"And so, he shouts across the room, 'Detroit!' He comes over and… does this really cute, charming thing that he does and just all night -- he just basically followed me around the party."
The couple were together from that moment forth, and even made things "Instagram official" less than two weeks later while on a dinner date. Joshua would later clarify to Insider that the night they met in 2018 was not a 'one-night stand' or a 'three-year one-night stand' like his then-wife joked but instead, it was "technically a three-night stand."
"It was sealed with a kiss that night and then we didn't leave each other's sides for, well, three years now," Joshua continued at the time.
In a July 2021 interview with Jimmy Fallon, Joshua dropped more details about the why behind getting married. He revealed that he didn't know he wanted to get married to Jodie until "the moment she asked me."
"She asked me on New Year's Eve. We were in Nicaragua. It was very beautiful, incredibly romantic, we were walking down the beach and she asked me to marry her."
He added, "I did not know [she would propose], but she was quite adamant and she was right. This is the best choice I ever made."
Joshua Jackson Reveals Jodie Turner-Smith Proposed To Him
Jodie received quite a bit of flack for proposing to Joshua because it goes against tradition and what society sees as acceptable for a woman to do to a man, and proposing isn't one of them. No matter how much time has passed, the viewpoints around who should do the proposing and who should be proposed to are still very traditional.
After being on the receiving end of such backlash, Joshua would later clarify to the media in a separate interview that it wasn't just Jodie's proposal to him that sealed the deal of them getting married, he proposed to her too. She might have initiated it, but Joshua followed through.
"I accidentally threw my wife under the bus because that story was told quickly and it didn't give the full context and holy Jesus, the internet is racist and misogynist," he explained to Refinery29 that same year. "We were in Nicaragua on a beautiful moonlit night, it could not possibly have been more romantic."
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
He continued, "And yes, my wife did propose to me and yes, I did say yes, but what I didn't say in that interview was there was a caveat, which is that I'm still old school enough that I said, 'This is a yes, but you have to give me the opportunity [to do it too].'"
"She has a biological father and a stepdad, who's the man who raised her. [I said], 'You have to give me the opportunity to ask both of those men for your hand in marriage.' And then, 'I would like the opportunity to re-propose to you and do it the old-fashioned way down on bended knee.' So, that's actually how the story ended up."
Joshua and Jodie would eventually marry in December 2019. Shortly thereafter, Jodie gave birth to the couple's first child, Janie, in 2020.
In a recent interview with Elle UK, Jodie shared the ways becoming a mother to Juno helped to heal her of her wounds from colorism she experienced in the past. "It's interesting because I had a lot of resistance to becoming a mother and, throughout my life, I always said if I were to have children, I wanted to have Black, Black babies so that I could affirm them as children with the love that I felt I needed to have been affirmed with by the outside world," Jodie shared with the outlet.
She continued, "Then I fell in love with my husband and we talked about having kids. I did have this mini pause, where I was like, 'She's going to be walking through the world not only having an experience that I did not have, but looking like people that, in a way, I'd always felt a little bit tormented by.' Now that I've got this little, tiny, light-skinned boss, I feel like it’s the universe teaching me lessons. I've been given a daughter who looks this way to heal my own conversations around colorism."
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Featured image by Amy Sussman/Getty Images