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First time mothers can all agree, there were things they were told and other things they simply had to learn. For Black maternity health week (April 11-17), we spoke to seven Black mothers who opened up about their experience with motherhood while giving the advice they wish had received before giving birth.

From different birth methods to lessons about postpartum, here’s what no one told them about pregnancy, that they want to tell you.

Jasmine Ramnarine, 30, Vlogger 

Jasmine Ramnarine

Source: Jasmine Ramnarine / Jasmine Ramnarine

Once you deliver your baby your body and mood can completely change, your hormones do a complete 180. Physically my legs and feet became extremely swollen to the point it hurt to walk. I also still looked and felt 10 months pregnant after birth. It took about a week and half for all the swelling to go down. My tummy took several months to return to its normal complexion and shrink down. My postpartum stage was so much worse than actually carrying my child. I suffered from postpartum depression for several weeks constantly crying, blaming myself for everything and worrying about my baby.

But with the help from my husband and family I was able to get back to feeling like myself again. Becoming a mother is a huge adjustment for your mind, body and spirit but I am so proud to be a mother to my daughters, I wouldn’t change my experiences for anything in the world!

Ty Alexander, 42, Best Selling Author/ Founder Of Destination Heal

Ty Alexander

Source: Ty Alexander / Ty Alexander

No one tells you how bad it hurts for obviously reasons. After 24 years I think about how if I were educated about childbirth back then it wouldn’t have been so painful. I wouldn’t have declined that big needle in my spine. My doctor saw a 19-year-old kid not a woman giving birth. So I wasn’t given options. I think generations behind me who are blessed with the Internet have an abundance of information. Research how you’d like your child birthing experience to be. It will make all the difference.

And lastly, you are a mom forever. It doesn’t stop at 18. This is a precious human being that you’re responsible for. Know that as humans we fail. You will fail your child. But all know that the love you give is what they will remember (and need) the most.

Christina Brown, Speaker & Digital Marketing Consultant

Christina Brown

Source: Rae Faith Photography / Rae Faith Photography

Until I became pregnant, it didn’t occur to me that pregnancy is the ultimate 9 month preparation course for motherhood. The moment your child takes over your body, you are no longer living for just you. Every single decision you make from the food you eat, to the mood you’re in, has an effect on the child. And once the baby is born, those same decisions effect your baby.

Chevonne Tingle, 38, Motivational Speaker 

Chevonne Tingle

Source: Chevonne Tingle / Chevonne Tingle

I had my first child at 19, a baby boy. I didn’t know much about pregnancy and birth. I’ve learned so much in 19 years. I learned about the benefits of having a Lotus birth which is where you leave your child placenta and umbilical cord attached and allow it to naturally separate from the baby. I’ve also learned that standing while giving birth is the best and most natural position to be in. If you lying down your going against gravity.

Ravelle Worthington, 32, Founder of Mommy Brain

Ravelle Worthington

Source: Aleah Clark / Aleah Clark

I was 27 when I became pregnant with our first child and while I had done the usual research on pregnancy and delivery, it never really occurred to me that I could question what my doctor was telling me during our check-ups. My son ended up being delivered at 34-weeks by emergency c-section when the ultrasound tech noticed what looked like a blockage in the umbilical cord. It all happened so fast. One moment my doctor was telling me I would need to have surgery right then and the next I was in a wheel chair being taken to the operating room. After delivery and further inspection of the cord, it turned out to be a gelatinous section and not a blockage after all, but we were erring on the side of caution. Two kids and two c-sections later (the last one was planned at 39 weeks because my kids are 14 months apart and my new doctor — we had since moved out of state — didn’t want to risk a uterine rupture). Now, I’m currently pregnant with my third. What I’ve learned between these pregnancies is how to advocate for myself and that you do have choices.

This time around I’ve decided to try for a vaginal birth after c-section. Since we’d moved out of state yet again, my doctor this go-around told me when I mentioned I’d like to have a trial of labor that she wasn’t comfortable with that since I already had two c-sections. I countered with, “What if I went into labor on my own?” Her response was that I’d still go directly into surgery upon getting to the hospital. When I asked her what her concerns were, she gave me a list of common risks without telling me exactly how those risks pertained to me as her patient. I was crushed, because I just wanted the opportunity to try. I was already going to be at the hospital, so if I ended up needing another c-section I would be in the right place. Then I thought about it and realized I had options. I knew there were several doctors at Cedars who allowed for a VBA2C, so I asked for her list of recommendations and set up meetings with the ones I thought would be the best fit. I now have a doctor who is on board with me trying (I’ll be monitored the whole time) and I’ve hired a doula to be there with my husband and I through the process. It’s so important to have a supportive team on hand that you not only feel comfortable with, but that you know is behind you 100%.

Arielle Ryan

Source: Cinematography by Olive Nwosu / /The Black Motherhood Project

, 26,Co-host of The MillenniHER Podcast

 

One thing I discovered as a new mother, one of twins at that, is how to really be conscious of the signs for postpartum depression and how to navigate through it. Being depressed for up to a year after giving birth was hard and being a young mother with very few friends that were mothers as well, I felt alone. I was moody, agitated, would have episodes of non-stop crying, panic attacks and found myself using other forms of soothing tactics to relieve the pain I felt of just feeling inadequate. as a woman (alcohol). I was trying to be Beyonce so bad, but if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have waited over a year to seek professional help, or see a physician for a diagnosis. I would have trusted that my friends and family would have supported me in my struggle as opposed to assuming that they’d pass judgment. Now that I have opened up, I’m living a more stable and healthy relationship that ultimately benefits my family and most importantly, myself.

Destiny Rodriguez, Forever 21 aka … 30

Destiny Rodriguez

Source: Destiny Rodriguez / Destiny Rodriguez

Have a baby for you and nobody else. Not to fix anything, and not to make someone happy, nope. Won’t work. Having a child is a lifelong, bittersweet commitment. Make sure that’s the core/ foundation. Mental health is so important. So many people may say things like “forget about you, it’s not about you, you can’t have a life “ etc… but please remember, it’s definitely about you. You can not give your child the best and you are not mentally at your best. Make time for you, buy yourself things, go out, do regular errands without kids or just be alone with yourself. Just because you have a kid, your life shouldn’t stop. It should be altered. Maybe even give a new reason and meaning to achieve new goals, but don’t “lose” yourself. It’s definitely hard and there are so many times when there is no “ right or wrong “ answer. Just always do your best, and have your kids best interest in mind. Lastly, no one owes you anything. You’ll def lose some people you thought were friends. Its life. Don’t get bent outta shape. It’s apart of growth. People get too caught up in what others should or are “supposed” to be doing for them. You have a kid, ( not your mom, the godmother, aunty, etc ) be prepared to do any and everything for that kid. You had them, don’t let them suffer for what others lack. And if you can’t live with that, don’t have them ! Kids are definitely a choice. Milfs and baby mommas are born everyday, which one will you be?

Black Maternal Health week (April 11-17), founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance.

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