The last few years living in my neighborhood have been pretty difficult for me and my family. I live in a pretty segregated city, and there's a lot of tension in the air these days. A few people in my family have had bad experiences at work or at school, being called racial slurs or treated with suspicion.
I have to be honest, when I found out I was pregnant, one of my first thoughts was, 'Am I too stressed out to be pregnant?' and 'Am I ready to explain these things to a child?'
I'm so grateful to have this new life inside me. But I'm worried about being a healthy space for this child to grow when I feel so anxious about my family's future right now — and keeping this child safe when they're born. How do I deal with this?
Carrying a Baby and the Weight of the World
Dear Carrying a Baby and the Weight of the World,
Stress and anxiety from dealing with systemic and overt racism is completely real. I first want to say that you are not alone in how you feel. When I was pregnant with my son, I remember feeling similarly heavy with worry. With that being said, you’re right. Carrying continuous stress is not good for you or your baby. It’s important to find ways to release the stress you’re feeling. One important thing you can do is to shift your perspective.
You may not be able to immediately change the world around you, but you are able to have a great impact on your baby’s environment. Find or form a group likeminded parents who can provide support to each other. Build your own village.
It’s important to be able to talk about these things so that you don’t bottle your feelings. Filter the information you take in, limit your exposure to negative images media. Be vigilant about getting good rest and proper nutrition. Find an OB or Midwife that you respect and who treats you respectfully. Introduce as much positivity into your pregnancy as possible. While all of this may sound simplistic, it can go a long way when it comes to how much of an impact stress can have on your body.
Malika Hook Muhammad is the owner of The DC Doula & Womb Wellness in Washington, DC. She works as a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator and doula educator with Doula Trainings International. // instagram // facebook // website