What Happens When Your Home Birth Is Derailed

Black women in the United States are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Amid this epidemic, there is a need for joyful and celebratory birthing stories within the Black community.

That is why award-winning journalist and author Kimberly Seals Allers created the Birthright podcast in 2021. As means to "reclaim joy, respect, and positivity as a birthright," the podcast explores the beautiful journey of pregnancy, life, and parenthood, without trauma at the center.

In season one, episode one, Whitney Robinson, wife and mother of four, shares her story of planning for another at-home birth being derailed when she goes into premature labor and is forced to give birth in the hospital. Despite this unexpected turn of events, Robinson can reclaim her joy and even dance while she's in labor. During her experience, she hoped that the white nurses and doctors could see that Black people can have enjoyable birthing experiences, especially when they have a team that reflects them.

"I'm hoping that they see that the woes of Black women in birthing aren't always the case," Robinson said. "These are the things I hope they see, and these are the things that give me joy… I had another Black woman midwife, a midwife that was with me in the hospital, and a Blackity-Black Black man who was surrounding me."

Well+Good is bringing this joy to life in a photo essay featuring five families who experienced joy during childbirth. Photographer Anissa Baty went into the Robinson home to capture just a glimpse of their joyful parenting techniques.

"When I walked into Whitney's home, I instantly knew I was going to enjoy capturing her and her family," Baty said. "Whitney and her husband have a method to parenting that I resonate with when it comes to letting their children explore themselves and the world around them freely. They're the perfect example when it comes to giving our children the experiences that we didn't have."

Listeners can stream "Whitney's Journey: From Planned Homebirth to Preemie Birth" here. You can also see the entire photo essay here.

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