Quantcast
Shutterstock

The Mental Traumas Of Being Black & Pregnant In Today's America

I am currently pregnant with my second child. A joyous time, yes. But honestly, I'm terrified.

As Told To


As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is Amanda Hampton's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

I am currently pregnant with my second child. A joyous time, yes. But honestly, I'm terrified. Almost traumatized.

Bringing forth life is supposed to be a time when I am at peak happiness. And don't get me wrong, I have moments where I am. There are times when I am absolutely over the moon. But I also have moments where societal stress triggers get the best of me. Being pregnant is stressful within itself—you've adopted a new normal of constant hospital visits, body changes, and hormone imbalances. But doing so during a pandemic, a time of extreme civil unrest and economic uncertainty, is almost cruel.

I wasn't quite sure how to express my angst.

So, here I am...

Currently, hospitals have a restrictive entry policy in place as doctors and nurses stand on the frontline of a deadly disease, and cities such as New York City digging mass graves and placing lost bodies in a box carts, (basically tossing them with no regard for family), are taking on a new meaning of uncertainty. So much is going on outside of the walls of my highly-guarded home and now I'm more concerned with lack of hospital space, or bringing my child into a contaminated America. On a personal level, my OBGYN retired and I had a hard time finding a good fit for my family and have limited options for doctors at my preferred delivery hospital. And my out of sync hormones and emotions that spike through the roof aren't helping.

Pregnancy is supposed to mean baby showers, and gender reveals, and choosing fricking nursery room decor. But it admittedly hasn't always been that way for me. There have been far too many moments of fear, and worry, and too many questions that I cannot answer.

Have any of my pregnant ladies felt this way? How do I find the joy in being pregnant without guilt or anxiety?

These days I've completely taken on the role of an empath, carrying the emotional weight of every news story—another black man killed for no reason; another black woman neglected by doctors and dies during childbirth. I feel so much guilt trying to find joy for my growing blessing when people are dying. I feel helpless because I donate, sign petitions, send emails. I have the hard conversations, and raise awareness. But is that enough? Or, is it just buying us time until the next hashtag gains traction? How can I find joy in my pregnancy, when I feel so guilty for bringing a child into this type of world? My people are dying.

Should I take on the burden of feeling selfish enough to even get pregnant during this time?

I think of how every lost soul was once nurtured and protected in the womb of his or her mother until they took their first breath in this world, wholly oblivious to what life had in store. I grieve for those families— especially the young kids that lost their father or mother in the process.

George was once a child too.

Tamir actually was a child.

Sha-Asia was supposed to be here to be a mother to her child.

My pastor once told me, as long as children are being born, God is still blessing us. My daily fight in this climate, is to try and enjoy this pregnancy and not worry about the things I cannot control. All is strenuous, but all is not lost.

I was ultimately boiled down to determining how I could relieve myself of all stress to secure a full-term, healthy pregnancy.

I find myself trying to weaponize my mental health with a few coping mechanisms to stay sane. It's not as safe for us to go out into the Wild Wild West, so I intentionally thought of what we can do right at home.

Try to find new hobbies to pick up, ones that we've never done before. Feeding our inner creativity and taking up coloring and painting or redecorating a room, is an easy, low physical means of staying busy.

Find other pregnant women to vent with. Because I guarantee they are going through the same emotions.

Discuss your feelings with your partner. Do not suffer in silence, and allow open communication lines with your partner during your pregnancy. Let them know if you struggled mentally that day, or how they could help you unpack your thoughts. Be open, be assured.

Embrace the caution! Listennnnnn! Girls, we are saving so much money on maternity clothes, we get to stay in the house and look a mess if we want to, and we don't have to deal with so many people rubbing our belly, asking a million questions, or handing us their germs. And most of all, we don't have to explain why we chose to do something "that way" because we are in the confines of our own home. And nothing is more satisfying than that!

Breathing exercises and meditation. Turn the news off, put the phone down and allow your mind to not be infiltrated with the constant chaos of information fed to us. Ladies, 60-80% of doctor visits are due to stress, which is only amplified during pregnancy. Take moments to breathe and meditate to level out. Download the Calm App, throw on a YouTube video, or simply lighting a candle goes a long way.

But most importantly take care of self and speak UP. There's now a new means of virtual check-ups and doctor visits versus what society is generally accustomed to. But if you don't feel well, speak up. If you feel as if your doctor isn't listening, switch doctors. For every 100,000 women giving birth, 25 black women die, in comparison to the only 6 white women.

Not to say that this is a competition, but too many of us are unnecessarily dying at the hands of tone-deaf physicians. Let them know your symptoms loudly, and if they don't take you seriously, move to someone who will.

In the end ladies, this is our new life, our new normal. Finding out what works for us is all a part of the game, as long as we are actually doing so. We may not know what the future holds, or the perfect way to balance current events and pregnancy, but this journey is ours, and we have to do what's best for our mental health, our physical, and the well-being of our babies.

So, take back our happiness. You are bearing a human who you will teach to be the best person that they can be. And as hard as it may be, we must declare with every fiber within us, that we cannot allow anything steal that away from us.

Featured image by Shutterstock

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Today is Malcolm X’s birthday. As an icon of Black liberation movements, his words are often rallying cries and guideposts in struggle. In 2020, after the officers who executed Breonna Taylor were not charged with her murder, my timeline was flooded with people reposting Malcolm’s famous quote: “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”

Keep reading...Show less

As her fame continues to rise, Tiffany Haddish has remained a positive light for her fans with her infectious smile and relatable story. Since Girls Trip, fans have witnessed the comedian become a modern-day Cinderella due to the many opportunities that have come her way and the recognition she began to receive.

Keep reading...Show less

We’ve all been there: Exhausted, lacking motivation, on edge, or simply not feeling like working at all. And we might have even used up all of our sick days, not to rest from a cold or injury, but just to get a bit of relief from those job or business responsibilities. Sometimes, you're not able to shake that nagging feeling of gloom, eventually finding yourself in a toxic pattern of unhealthy habits and behaviors. There's a larger issue that goes way beyond just needing a break.

Keep reading...Show less

CultureCon is one of the top conferences for creative people of color to attend to meet fellow changemakers. The event, which is presented by the Creative Collective NYC, has attracted some of our favorite entertainers as keynote speakers such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Chloe x Halle, Michael B. Jordan, and many more.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Jay Ellis Shares ‘Full-Circle’ Moment With His Parents & His Self-Care Ritual

Staying grounded is one of the actor's biggest priorities.

Latest Posts