With the continuous neglect that Black women fall privy to in hospitals and the rise in Black maternal mortality, Black women are speaking out about the need for healthcare professionals to just listen to them. Actress and activist Tatyana Ali recently wrote an open letter on why she has decided to never give birth in a hospital ever again.
Recently, a woman had to give birth in her home after being turned away at a hospital, and the internet was up in arms! Our lives are not a matter of policy or debate - they matter, especially when we are carrying children. Tatyana Ali is calling out the medical system in the United States for its continuous racism and bias when it comes to treating Black women in ESSENCE.
The 40-year-old mother-of-two revealed the traumatizing experience she had to overcome after giving birth to her now 3-year-old son, Edward Aszard Rasberry, and wrote:
“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. My doula, concerned with her status at the hospital, who knew I wanted a natural birth, persistently advised me to take an epidural. I agreed, and the epidural left me unable to move. One doctor slammed his forearm on top of my belly in order to force my son down as though I were a tube of toothpaste.”
Tatyana goes on to say that her entire delivery room was like a circus, with her distressed husband, Dr. Vaughn Rasberry, being the only person advocating for her and her child’s life the entire time. Tatyana was forced to ask for a C-section after the failed Zavanelli maneuver. Along with this disturbing ordeal, Tatyana also noted that while her son spent several days in the NICU, her postpartum consultation was equally as demeaning with someone telling her she, “had a pelvis shaped like a man’s.”
During their first son’s birth, Tatyana explains that her entire family needed time to heal while she battled with the feelings of degradation mixed with guilt for deciding to have a natural birth in a hospital. For her second birth, Tatyana wanted it to be completely different.
After attending the Black Mama’s Matter Alliance’s 2018 Black Maternal Health Week, Tatyana was immersed and educated on the rich history of Black and indigenous midwives and doulas. She learned that the resurgance of these women in our community was due to their wish to lower the maternal and infant deaths in Black and brown women and decided this was the route she wanted to go for her second bundle of joy.
“After being educated in this new paradigm,” Tatyana explained, “I felt deeply in my heart that midwifery care in the Black birthing tradition and a VBAC birth in my own home would be the best choice for me and my family this time around. Previously, my husband and I took classes that made birth seem like at best a medical procedure, and at worst a battle royal. This time, I feel that I am actually preparing for motherhood. This time, we are preparing for a rite that speaks to the psychological, physical and spiritual transformation that will take place. This time, instead of planning for a medical procedure, I am planning for the birth of my baby and my birth as a mother.”
The actress was elated and relieved after she decided to go with her Black midwife, who worked as her primary care provider to make sure Tatyana and her family had everything they needed both physically and emotionally to prepare for their new addition.
Tatyana Ali shortly gave birth to her second son, Alejandro Vaughn Rasberry, on August 15 after writing this empowering and insightful essay. We hope this is a catalyst for others to hold healthcare professionals accountable in their treatment of Black women.
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