April 11 – 17 is Black Maternal Health Week, a federally recognized awareness week that shines a light on important issues surrounding Black maternal health.
In recognition of Black Maternal Health Week, we would like to acknowledge, Amber Grady who is a Black mother and a clinical specialist for the Woman’s Hospital Inpatient Pharmacy. Amber provides pharmacy support for our neonatal patient population and serves as the antimicrobial stewardship pharmacist for the hospital. Amber advocates for the well-being of all women, especially Black women.
- Why did you choose Woman’s Hospital to give birth?
I chose to give birth at Woman’s Hospital because this is our area of expertise. Delivering at a hospital that focuses on maternal and fetal health was really important to me, especially as a first-time mother. I wanted to deliver somewhere that could handle any complications should they occur.
- Why did you choose natural birth (an often taboo birthing style in the Black community)?
I’ve always envisioned myself having a natural delivery. Initially, I felt like I should have had a better reason, but then I realized that this was my birthing experience and I deserved to have what I envisioned for myself. I spoke with my physician and we decided that we would plan for a natural delivery, but with the option to change my mind if I needed. I recommend having a birthing plan but also being flexible because babies aren’t always predictable.
- Did you have any concerns?
Having a baby is always a scary experience. As a healthcare professional, I have seen a lot of possible complications and it could be really disconcerting at times to know that could be me. I was lucky to have a good support system when I struggled during my pregnancy and post-partum journey and I am grateful for that.
- Although you are an employee at Woman’s, were there any moments when you felt unheard?
Overall, I had a really good experience at Woman’s Hospital. I remember needing to come to the Assessment Center early in my pregnancy and being afraid that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, but that wasn’t the case. There was a time when I had to see a Nurse Practitioner because my physician was in emergency surgery and I was discussing my continued struggles with morning sickness and hyperemesis. The practitioner told me that I shouldn’t really be struggling with that since I was over 14 weeks and I should be trying to eat more protein. I remember thinking I eat whatever I can keep down and I know many women struggle with hyperemesis for their entire pregnancy. While that experience wasn’t the best I was actually really impressed because my physician called the next day to check on me since she’d missed our appointment and was very understanding of my continued struggles and asked if I needed any additional medications.
- How did you learn how to advocate for your health?
It can be difficult to feel comfortable advocating for yourself. I’ve seen so many patients not want to complain or make a fuss and when they do finally speak up for themselves it’s too late. I think that seeing these cases taught me that you know your body better than anyone else and that if you don’t speak up then no one will ever know.
- How do you recommend black women who are expecting mothers advocate for themselves?
I think the first step to advocating for yourself is to choose a healthcare team that you can trust and that ensures that you feel comfortable. This is such an important decision and I often hear women talk about how their physician didn’t take their concerns seriously. Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, but it is also a dangerous one. Take the time when choosing your healthcare team. I also recommend that you take to time to find out what you can expect from pregnancy. Remember it’s always best to ask your questions and state any concerns.
- Why is it so important for this demographic to advocate for themselves?
While things are getting better, there are still many misconceptions in healthcare and society when it comes to Black women. We are still significantly more likely to die in childbirth, so we have to do everything we can to advocate for our health. Black women should feel empowered to speak for themselves and prioritize their health.
At Woman’s Hospital, it is our priority to provide our soon-to-be mothers with the best health care and resources to prepare for a healthy pregnancy and safe labor and delivery. Click here to learn more about the resources we provide.