Only a few weeks ago, a couple from Virginia was turned away from a hospital and forced to give birth in a bathtub at home. Although this story is both shocking, it is not unique, and hundreds of pregnant women are at risk of being under the care of negligent doctor every day, b. The maternal mortality rate for black women is three to four times more than any other demographic, making what should be the most beautiful moment in a mother's life one of the most traumatic experiences that she will ever endure.
This is why former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actress Tatyana Ali, and her husband Vaughn Rasberry, chose an alternative route when welcoming the newest addition to their family into this world. While Erykah Badu put us on to the benefits of having a doula in the delivery room during childbirth, Tatyana wants us to know that a midwife is everything that your birthing plan has been missing.
While Tatyana gave birth to her first son traditionally in September of 2016, the 40-year-old mother-of-two recently penned an emotional open letter to ESSENCE that explained exactly why she will never give birth in a hospital again. She wrote:
"I believe that my choice to birth naturally in a hospital was misguided and led to the impatience and interventions that ultimately put my baby's health in jeopardy. When we decided to grow our family, I began to search for a better way."
The birth of your first child is an amazing experience that you hope to remember for the rest of your life, but for Tatyana, her memories of the occasion were quite the opposite.
"The birth of my first son, three years ago, went completely off-script. For reasons that I have come to know are pretty much textbook, my low-risk pregnancy resulted in extremely questionable actions on the part of those attending and an emergency c-section. My labor was harried, filled with people I didn't know screaming at me."
Soon, Tatyana said that the delivery room started to look less like a healthy environment that she was ready to bring her first son into and more like a war zone. After seeing his wife rushed to the OR and completely blacking out, the actress says that her husband felt just as helpless and traumatized as she was.
Although there were people everywhere, Tatyana and her husband felt that there was no one in the room that was actually there for them, and their postpartum experience didn't make things any better:
"My husband, advocating for our baby and me the entire time, was as traumatized as I was. Postpartum, I was told by someone in the hospital that I had a pelvis shaped like a man's. I now know that comment was cruel and ridiculous. The worst part of our trial was that our son spent several days in the NICU as a result of his harrowing birth."
Tatyana and her husband recently welcomed Alejandro Vaughn Rasberry into the world and still say that they trust a midwife over a crowded hospital any day.
"My midwife is a Black woman. She's spent hours with me and my family, as though I am her only patient. She asks how I feel and what our hopes are; she conducts herself in a way that is culturally and spiritually attuned to me and she trusts in our ability to make informed decisions. She asks permission to touch my belly at every appointment and has encouraged me to honor my intuition."
Tatyana went on to say that having a choice in her child's safety during childbirth has empowered her to become the best mother that she can be, and hopes to encourage other women to take the wheel when it comes to their own maternal health:
"Simply put, I feel empowered. I chose sugar cane as the backdrop for my maternity shoot because it signifies reclamation. It is the crop that my ancestors—from India to Trinidad on my father's side, and from Ghana and Benin to Panamà on my mother's side—cultivated before coming here to the United States. They built the wealth of the modern world and their blood, resilience and dignity are my children's inheritance. I will keep it safe."
To read Tatyana's full essay on ESSENCE, click here!
Featured image by Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com