The sheer numbers are what convinced model-actress Jodie Turner-Smith and husband Joshua Jackson to skip the hospital when welcoming their daughter in April.
“We had already decided on a home birth because of concerns about negative birth outcomes for Black women in America,” Turner-Smith wrote in an essay for the September issue of British Vogue. “According to the [CDC], the risk of pregnancy-related deaths is more than three times greater for Black women than for white women, pointing, it seems to me, to systemic racism.”
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in September that — according to a national analysis of pregnancy-related mortality between 2007 and 2016 — Black women and their American Indian and Alaska Native counterparts, who were older than 30, were an alarming four to five times more likely to die pregnancy-related deaths. Turner-Smith turned 33 in September.
As it turned out, by the time Turner-Smith was ready to deliver her first child, the world was experiencing the coronavirus pandemic.
“We never imagined that in the coming weeks, hospitals around the country would begin restricting who could be present in the birthing rooms, forcing mothers to deliver without the support person or people of their choice,” Turner-Smith recounted. “Delivering at home ensured that I had what every single woman deserves to have: full agency in determining my birth support.”
Jackson was continually by her side.
“Both of us had watched our own mothers struggle to raise children without such support,” Turner-Smith said. “Both of us were determined to create something different for ourselves. He kept saying to me, ‘There’s no part of this that I’m going to miss.’ And there wasn’t.”
Turner-Smith endured four days of labor at their Los Angeles home.
“Early in the morning on my third day of labor, my husband and I shared a quiet moment. I was fatigued and beginning to lose my resolve,” the Queen and Slim star said. “Josh ran me a bath, and as I lay in it contracting, I talked to my body and I talked to my daughter. In that moment, he snapped a picture of me. An honest moment of family and togetherness — a husband supporting a wife, our baby still inside me, the sacred process of creating a family.”
Jackson previously described finding out Turner-Smith was pregnant as “literally the most joyous moment of my life.”
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