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 post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
When it comes to healthy hair care, there are a few things that will help you achieve healthy strands: a healthy hair care regime, hydration, consistent treatments, and scalp care. While scalp care is one of the most neglected practices, it is also one of the most important. Why? Because it helps promote healthy hair growth, clear hair follicles, and remove build-up.
When it comes to creating a healthy scalp routine, it helps to know exactly what you’re up against so you know how to specifically treat it. Two of the most common concerns are dandruff and dry scalp. It can be tough to decipher which is which, but here’s a quick breakdown: dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, while dandruff is caused by an excess of oil and yeast buildup on the scalp. Knowing that both of these are big concerns, SheaMoisture released two separate product lines to address both issues: the Scalp Moisture collection and the Anti-Dandruff collection.
Needless to say, if you tend to experience dandruff then I’d recommend you try the Anti-Dandruff collection. However, my biggest concern has always been dry scalp. A lack of moisture on the scalp can be caused by several factors like weather, age, and hair products to name a few. I’ve noticed that when I use certain gels or skip out on a deep scalp cleanse, my roots feel itchy and dry nonstop, which is uncomfortable.
The only way to relieve the discomfort is to properly wash and moisturize my roots, so I tried the Scalp Moisture collection and this is what I thought.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
First, What’s In The Collection?
The Scalp Moisture collection is a four-product line that includes a pre-wash masque, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a moisturizing scalp cream. Each product uses moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe butter and vitamin B3 as active ingredients to provide eight times the moisture. Together, aloe butter and vitamin B3 work to restore dry and brittle hair, as well as add relief to the scalp.
Now, let’s break down each product…
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque may actually be the all-star of the collection. Using this deep conditioning masque is one of the best ways to target your dry scalp, restore hydration, and nourish your strands before shampooing.
I started by completely saturating my hair and scalp with water, then making small sections to apply the masque directly to the root. For my girls who have experience with relaxers and perms, it helps to apply the masque to your roots just like you would do with a relaxer. This way you can make sure you’ve covered as much of your scalp as possible while minimizing any breakage.
Pro tip: you can also use a color application brush to make this step easier.
After I completely covered my scalp, I massaged the product into my roots, used any excess on my strands, then left the masque in for 30 minutes. I was shocked by how moisturizing and clarifying my scalp and hair felt. One of the things that I love about the masque is the slip and how much softer it made my hair. While this is marketed as a scalp care product, it can completely transform your hair from dry and parched to completely hydrated.
In my opinion, the downside of this masque is that the quantity is too small for my liking. Truth be told, naturals go through deep conditioners faster than any other product (especially when it’s this good.) So SheaMoisture, if you’re reading this, we’d love a bigger jar.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Shampoo
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Shampoo is a gentle cleanser packed with the same moisture as the masque. The pearl-colored shampoo is lightweight with a serum-like consistency and a light and clean scent. The smell is pleasant, subtle, and not overbearing. When I applied the shampoo, I noticed immediately that it foams and lathers up very quickly, so less is more.
After applying the shampoo, I parted my hair and started at the roots to target as much of my scalp as possible. I recommend really taking the time to work the product and massage your scalp as much as possible.
Pro tip: using a scalp massager makes it easier and it feels amazing.
Once you start to massage your hair you’ll feel the product start to work. There’s a tingling sensation that might catch you off guard if you’re not used to it, but it’s not nearly as strong as other scalp products I’ve tried. I know some may not appreciate the sensation, but I loved it! My scalp felt clean, light, and breathable.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Conditioner
Like the shampoo, the SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Conditioner shares that pearly color and serum-like feel. It applies very easily while softening and moisturizing your hair. When I applied it to my hand, it gave my hands a lotion-like feel, which speaks volumes about its hydration capabilities. I also loved that the conditioner comes with a pump, instead of having to squeeze the product out – to me, it makes application easier.
I typically apply my conditioner to the ends first but because this is a scalp care product I started at the root and worked my way down to my ends. I did leave the conditioner in for ten minutes, although the bottle recommends leaving it in for three. The conditioner also provides that same breathable feel to your scalp. I honestly loved the relief.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Cream
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream is more of a daily relief product for your roots rather than your overall hair. It’s great for providing moisture and immediate relief to a dry and itchy scalp. Just like most of the collection, it gives a light and breathable feel – without the tingle. The applicator bottle targets specific parts of your scalp and makes applying easier.
Pro tip: I typically just squeeze the bottle to wherever I need the relief and use the tip to massage it into my scalp so it doesn’t mess up the hairstyle.
Overall, SheaMoisture’s scalp care line lives up to its claims – it moisturizes, strengthens, and provides immediate scalp relief. I definitely recommend trying the Scalp Moisture collection for an affordable way to treat itchy and dry scalp.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Actress and singer Keke Palmer recently shed light on the 'breast milk discrimination' she encountered at a Houston airport.
The incident allegedly went down on June 16, when Palmer, who welcomed her son Leodis Jackson earlier this year with longtime partner Darius Jackson, revealed on Twitter that Houston airport employees ruined her mood as she was discretely pumping.
In the tweet, the 29-year-old elaborated that her aggravation stemmed from the alleged threats spewed at her, including potentially disposing of "over 16 oz" of her son's food.
"Breast milk discrimination at the Houston airport ruined my mood," she tweeted. "I should've popped my tit out right then because the discretion and comfort of pumping is thwarted with threats to throw out over 16 oz [of] my [baby's] food?!?!!! Why is that not a crime?? I'M A MOTHER, for crying out loud."
\u201cBreast milk discrimination at the Houston airport ruined my mood. I should\u2019ve popped my tit out right then because the discretion and comfort of pumping is thwarted with threats to throw out over 16oz my babies food?!?!!! Why is that not a crime??\n\nI\u2019M A MOTHER for crying out\u2026\u201d— Keke Palmer (@Keke Palmer) 1686566225
It is unclear if the issue was resolved because Palmer has yet to release any additional details regarding the matter. Still, the Nope star's post was met with fans' support, and many shared similar stories about their experiences at other locations.
According to the official TSA website, breast milk and baby or toddler-related foods and drinks are categorized as "medically necessary liquids." This means those items, including break milk, formula, and puree pouches, aren't required to meet the carry-on regulations and can be transported onto a plane as long as it's in a proper bag.
In addition to those rules, it is also reported that it is legal to breastfeed and breast pump in public. Although different states have different laws, in Texas, where Palmer was allegedly discriminated against, a bill allowing women to pump in public areas was passed in 2019.
In light of Palmer's tweet and the controversy surrounding breast pumping and breastfeeding in public, xoNecole is sharing the stories of other high-profile women who have openly discussed their experiences, positve and negative, with breastfeeding in public.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed during a Workplace Flexibility Conference over a decade ago that when her youngest daughter Sasha Obama was an infant, she was forced to bring her to a job interview because she was still breastfeeding.
The star disclosed that she feared she would have been disqualified if Sasha's presence was a disruption. But because Obama had interviewed with the president of the company, who also had a child, they understood the responsibilities of being a parent and gave her the job.
"I packed up that little infant, and I put her in the stroller, and I brought her with me. And I prayed that her presence wouldn't be an automatic disqualifier. And it was fortunate for me that, number one, she slept through the entire interview. And I was still breastfeeding — if that's not too much information. And I got the job," she said.
"But I know that I was lucky, number one. I was interviewing with the president, that had just had a child himself and was very understanding and open-minded. But I know that most folks are nowhere near as lucky as I was."
In addition to her speech, Obama advised a plan to give tax breaks or credits to nursing mothers to cover breast pump costs, but the opposing party, unfortunately, scrutinized it.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Another person who has discussed the stigma of breastfeeding in public is actress Jada Pinkett Smith. In an episode of her Facebook talk show, Red Table Talk, Pinkett Smith revealed that she was mom-shamed as she tried to breastfeed her children, Jaden and Willow Smith.
The Girls Trip star explained that when she attended public locations with Jaden and Willow --who were respectively born in 1998 and 2000-- and had to breastfeed, she tried shielding it, but it became a hassle.
"I remember me, myself when I would be out with Jaden and Willow breastfeeding... I used to have that little [breastfeeding] cover. It would make it so difficult. They're in there [and] they're suffocating. I can't see them," she said.
Pinkett Smith added that the experience gave her anxiety because, at the time, breastfeeding in public was stigmatized.
"I had so much anxiety about it because back when I had them, breastfeeding was like, 'what? What are you doing?'" she stated.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Noam Galai/Getty Images