Four months after actress Jodie Turner-Smith recently welcomed a baby girl with her husband, fellow actor Joshua Jackson, the Queen & Slim star spoke to British Vogue about her nearly four-day birth journey and the unprecedented challenges she faced as a Black woman and first-time mom in the coronavirus.
“Every stage of my pregnancy brought its own challenges and lessons,” the 33-year-old began in the interview. “Nobody really teaches you about what your body goes through to bring a child into the world until you’re actually doing it.”
Both she and Jackson were determined to bring their child into the world safely, as Jodie experienced a hectic schedule along with constant nausea, fatigue and subchornic bleeds during her pregnancy. In her first trimester the actress began shooting the film, Without Remorse, co-starring Michael B. Jordan on location in Berlin. She would also fly back and forth from Berlin to make appearances promoting Queen & Slim during award season.
And it was the maternal mortality rate and its effects on Black women that made her decide to take a more holistic path in navigating birth.
“We had already decided on a 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,” she said.
But the pandemic presented a challenge that the actress couldn’t anticipate. “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 explained. “Delivering at home ensured that I had what every single woman deserves to have: full agency in determining my birth support.”
Her husband also served as an important source of support as they both promised to create a strong family dynamic far different from their experiences growing up in a single parent household. A photo that Jackson took of his wife during day three of her four-day labor journey was used to accompany the article.
“Early in the morning on my third day of labour, my husband and I shared a quiet moment. I was fatigued and beginning to lose my resolve. Josh ran me a bath, and as I lay in it contracting, I talked to my body and I talked to my daughter,” the star shared. “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.”
In the months following Turner-Smith said that she experienced similar challenges that most moms experience when they enter the realm of motherhood. It was important to her to slow down, readjust and prioritize what she needed as her life has totally changed as soon as her daughter entered the world.
“I felt the pressure that we often place on new mothers: to get back to ‘normal,’ to have what is considered a perfect post-pregnancy body — one that bears no trace of the fact that a tiny human was once held inside it and, only weeks before, passed through it,” she explained.
She says she constantly reflects on how she will explain the events of 2020 to her daughter as she grows older. “Sometimes I wonder how I will explain to my daughter what it meant to be born in the year 2020. The historic events, the social unrest, and me — a new mother just trying to do her best,” she said. “I think I will tell her that it was as if the world had paused for her to be born. And that, hopefully it never quite returned to the way it was before.”