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Jodie Turner-Smith Says She Opted for At-Home Birth Out of Concern About Pregnancy-Related Deaths Among Black Women

Amid a pandemic and social unrest, many are taking on new approaches to everyday tasks big and small. Actress Jodie Turner-Smith is among that group. In an essay for the September issue of British Vogue, the “Queen and Slim” star spoke earnestly about her journey to motherhood. The 33-year-old also revealed that she opted for a home birth due to concerns of pregnancy-related deaths in Black women in the United States. 

“We had already decided on home birth, because of concerns about negative birth outcomes for Black women in America — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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,” the actress explained. It was not clear whether Turner-Smith was trying to imply that giving birth at home is somehow safer for Black women than doing so at a hospital.

Jodie Turner-Smith says ‘systemic racism’ fueled her decision to have an at home birth. (Photo: Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)

According to People, Turner-Smith welcomed her first child with husband Joshua Jackson on April 21. The couple publicly celebrated their newest addition two days later. 

The actress continued, “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.” She added, “Delivering at home ensured that I had what every single woman deserves to have: full agency in determining my birth support.”

According to the CDC, Black, American Indian, and Alaskan Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women — and the disproportion increases with age.  

Turner-Smith also detailed the four days she says she spent in labor, revealing that she became “fatigued” and started to “lose my resolve.” “Jose ran me a bath, and as I lay in it contracting, I talked to my body, and I talked to my daughter,” the actress said. 

“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.”

Turner-Smith is just one of many celebrities who have spoken out about the risk Black women face during childbirth. 

In a 2018 op-ed piece for CNN, tennis superstar Serena Williams said that she nearly died after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. The athlete said just 24 hours after giving birth, she suffered from blood clots in the arteries of her lungs and suffered shortness of breath, including a list of other complications. Williams also revealed that her C-section wound ruptured due to heavy coughing. 

The 38-year-old claimed that when she requested a CT scan, she was given an ultrasound of her legs instead. The star eventually got the CT scan, which showed several blood clots in her lungs. Williams’ horrific pregnancy experience ultimately drove her to invest in the Black-owned start-up, Mahmee, a “platform that makes it easy for payers, providers, and patients to coordinate comprehensive prenatal and postpartum healthcare from anywhere.”

At the time, Williams released a statement saying, “Given the bleak data surrounding maternal death and injury rates, I believe that it is absolutely critical right now to invest in solutions that help protect the lives of moms and babies.” She added, “Mahmee’s data-driven approach is the right solution to one of the most significant problems in the system: that of fragmented care.”

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