Five Secrets Every Black Woman Should Know Before They Give Birth

        So today, we're discussing what you should know before you get pregnant or what you wish you knew before you got pregnant! Pregnancy lasts only about nine months and during this time our bodies are physically preparing to give birth. But my goodness those nine months are a whirlwind of symptoms. The number of changes and symptoms we feel and don't feel are countless. And then we are expected to learn and retain everything about birth in such a short amount time. We learn so much to achieve a favorable childbirth experience and more. Well, these five secrets are definitely where you should start on your childbirth journey. 

1. Know Your Rights! 
        In NYS hospitals, patients need to know they have the Bill Of Rights. It’s a list of laws that all hospital must abide by as it relates to all its patients and their care.  So much can happen while you labor and have your baby while at the hospital. Lines may get crossed when mothers are in pain and are vulnerable.  Some of my faves on the list are making sure to receive all the information you need to give informed consent. Did you just ask what you need to know to make an informed consent. You need to be informed of all the risks and benefits of all procedures. You want to make sure you ask questions like what exactly is the problem? Can this be normal? Is this procedure truly necessary?  You also have the right to complain without fear of reprisal about the care and service you are receiving. 

2. Trust Your Body
    On your journey to pregnancy and beyond, if you didn't know your body before, you will get to know your body through this experience. Take this time to listen and reflect. Take heed to how your body moves and how it reacts to everything. During labor, you will witness what your body is capable of. Fully trust your instincts. Ladies, only you know your body, so when something doesn't feel right say something and then say it again!. And when you know your body is fully capable to push your baby out, believe it, then do it!

3. Squad Up! 
    This one’s my favorite! Like I always say we weren’t meant to go through life alone. We thrive on trusting relationships. The same thing goes for us childbearers! Choose a provider that’s on the same page as you. That believes in the birth you want to have. A doula is a birth professional that is very knowledgeable about birth and their primary goal is to fully support you and your partner. So you know we got your back. Start thinking about who you want around you. Who will be helpful, and not a hindrance after you give birth. 

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4. Cuddle Time
 Yes! The time has come. Your precious baby has made their grand entrance. Then someone says put your baby down, don't spoil them. "They won’t ever let you get anything done" or "no don’t let them fall asleep at your breast". I’m not so sure where this mentality stems from but know that it’s completely OK to bond with your baby. Enjoy your baby and all that comes with it. If she wants to fall asleep at your breast let her. There will be a time for when she’ll fall asleep on her own. For now, your baby spent the past nine months knowing only you and your partner, so all he needs and wants is his mom and dad.  

5. You always have options…….unless you don’t!
    Before the baby comes, labor could go many different ways. Knowing what foods to eat or the dozens of labor positions, the right timing and a myriad of other things may help move things along. Maybe laying on your back during the pushing phase may not be comfortable and you’d prefer to stand. Or a hands and knees position to relieve some of the pressure on your back. You have options!  But it takes trusting your instincts, knowing your body and trusting in the team you designed to know when something feels wrong and knowing when to let the medical professionals take over if a dire situation were to arise. 

         So do yourselves a favor and prepare, prepare prepare. We put way to much trust in a system that doesn't have our best interest in mind.  If you don't remember every tip in this article, please remember this; TRUST YOURSELF. Our bodies are designed to carry a baby, give birth and provide sustenance for that baby thereafter.  So believe in the power that is you and do it!