This article is intended to be a resource for cisgender Black women, transgender men, nonbinary and gender non-conforming folks.
Pregnancy can be a beautiful time, but navigating the system as a queer person can add some layers of complexity.
Whether you’re encountering restrictive medical forms that force you and/or your partner to identify with a male-female dynamic or your provider uses the wrong pronouns during a visit, the healthcare system can often feel alienating for queer people. It’s important to find a care team that you feel comfortable with, and early research suggests that Black patients may even have better clinical outcomes when seen by Black providers. Here are some tips to help you navigate the system and advocate for yourself.
Find a provider who gets you
First things first: you must find a provider who understands your perspective, whether or not they’re queer and Black themselves.
Don’t be afraid to shop around for a provider who makes you feel comfortable. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and the doctor your friend loved so much may not be the right fit for you. Ovia Health’s coaching team can help you find in-network providers who fit your needs across specialties, location, queer-friendliness, racial identity, and more. Once you have the list in hand, set up a few appointments and be sure to ask each provider specific questions during your first visit about what your care plan will look like throughout your pregnancy. Learn more about finding the right provider here.
Gather up your team
We’ve all heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” and this applies as early as pregnancy. Gather up your team of advocates, people like your partner, parent(s), sibling(s), cousins, neighbors, a doula, friends, roommates, and more. Having your league of love behind you will help you feel supported throughout the journey. There may be points when having someone to accompany you to a provider visit or to stock up on maternity supplies is just the encouragement you need.
Many queer Black birthing people also choose to work with a doula or midwife. A midwife is a certified, licensed medical professional who can provide pregnancy care from preconception to postpartum. Midwives can support your birth specifically in a gentle, non-invasive way, in a hospital setting, at a birthing center, or at home. A doula, on the other hand, is a trained, non-medical individual who is there to help you with physical, emotional, and informational support, attending provider visits and birthing classes, and anything else you might need. Doulas can be a source of consistent support throughout the journey, especially since many people are not able to deliver with the provider they had been consistently seeing during pregnancy.
Advocate for your needs
During every visit, you have the right to ask as many questions as you want to understand exactly what is going on with your body. Try keeping a list of the concerns that arise in between visits and bringing it to your next appointment (and be sure to talk to an Ovia Health Coach in the meantime!)
Check out these helpful resources on talking to your provider throughout your pregnancy. Also, if you’d like to learn more about second parent adoption to ensure your partner is recognized as your child’s equal parent, you can read more here.
You have a right to be seen and heard, and to have a happy, healthy pregnancy.
- “More Racial Diversity among Physicians Would Lead to Better Health among Black Men, Research Shows.” FSI. July 18, 2018. https://healthpolicy.fsi.stanford.edu/news/more-african-american-doctors-would-lead-better-outcomes-black-men.
- “What Is a Midwife and Why Might a Woman Want to See One? with Jessica Costa, CNM.” Cleveland Clinic. December 12, 2018. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/podcasts/health-essentials/what-is-a-midwife-and-why-might-a-woman-want-to-see-one.
- “Midwife Services.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/obgyn-womens-health/depts/obstetrics-family-maternity-center/midwife#benefits-tab.
- “Approaches to Limit Intervention during Labor and Birth.” ACOG. ACOG. February 2017. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2019/02/approaches-to-limit-intervention-during-labor-and-birth.
- “March of Dimes Position Statement Doulas and Birth Outcomes.” March of Dimes. March of Dimes. January 30, 2019. https://www.marchofdimes.org/materials/Doulas%20and%20birth%20outcomes%20position%20statement%20final%20January%2030%20PM.pdf.