Trusting Your Body and Team: the Key to Reclaiming Power in Pregnancy
This article is part of The Bump’s Reclaiming Your Power series featuring changemakers who are dedicated to supporting and preserving Black maternal health. These doctors and thought-leaders share their insights and advice to help guide and empower women of color who are planning or navigating pregnancy.
Every pregnancy is different—but it’s also true that, regardless of what you’re going through, you’re not alone. Families of color can face many challenges along their path to parenthood, something Simmone Taitt, founder and CEO of the telehealth app Poppy Seed Health, has shared experience with. She felt firsthand the effects of systemic racism while navigating the healthcare system as a hopeful Black mother. Here, she explains how her experience led her to create a platform for pregnancy, postpartum and loss support, as well as words of wisdom for how other BIPOC mothers can advocate for their care and find joy in their experience.
The Bump: Tell us more about the work you’re doing to support Black maternal health.
Simmone Taitt: My personal journey as a hopeful Black mother going through the maternal healthcare system after multiple pregnancy losses is the reason why Poppy Seed Health exists. I didn’t know the depths of racial bias in our healthcare system until I experienced them firsthand. I found emotional and mental health support in the most unlikely place—the internet—and knew that finding support should not be so hard for anyone. At Poppy Seed Health, 50 percent of our advocate network—the doulas, nurses and midwives on the other end when someone requests a chat—are BIPOC. Being seen and supported instantaneously by someone that you trust should be the cornerstone of Black maternal health.
TB: What would you like to see happen in the near future that will significantly improve outcomes for Black mothers?
ST: The number one thing I’d like to see happen in the near future is the continuity of care inside and outside of the doctor’s office. It’s one of the reasons why Poppy Seed Health exists and why we’re leveraging the power of technology to close these critical gaps in our maternal healthcare system. This begins with recognizing that emotional and mental health support is healthcare, and that safe and trusted spaces where Black birthing people can show up and be cared for has to include digital spaces as well.
TB: Have there been any recent milestones achieved that offer hope that we’re headed in the right direction?
ST: There are so many milestones that are happening right now. More Black mothers are working with doulas who have shared lived experiences and who are trained to emotionally support and care for their Black clients and families. Additionally, we saw this critical conversation around Black maternal health enter the national spotlight when portions of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act were passed in 2021. This legislation provides community- and state-level resources for pregnancy and postpartum support and finally puts action behind the conversation. Lastly, we are taking back our narrative. The statistics are scary, but there is also much joy, love and life in Black parenthood. Those stories are important to share with each other and with the world, and owning the narrative is how we will continue to be a part of generational change.
TB: Black pregnant women face an increased risk for a number of medical conditions and complications, including maternal death, and many are feeling stressed and powerless. How can Black moms-to-be reclaim a sense of empowerment during their pregnancy?
ST: I’ve personally experienced the stress, fear and the dreadful feeling of losing my power on my own journey to motherhood. It’s so important to remember that you have body autonomy, and that we know what is best for our bodies and babies. Start reclaiming your power by trusting your body. Find a care team that understands your unique needs and a mental health support team that understands your fears as a Black mom during your pregnancy and after you have the baby.
TB: What’s your one key piece of advice for Black moms-to-be?
ST: My key piece of advice for Black moms-to-be is to find the care team that you want and trust for your pregnancy journey. This team includes both your medical and emotional support team. You will find so much joy in your experience when you believe in yourself and you have a team that believes in you too.
For more conversations around Black maternal health, check out the Reclaiming Your Power insterviews with Charles Johnson IV, founder of 4Kira4Moms, and Kendra Segura, MD, an ob-gyn and star on Bravo’s Married to Medicine: Los Angeles. Visit The Bump’s Black Maternal Health Hub for more information, inspiration and support.
About the expert:
Simmone Taitt is the CEO and founder of Poppy Seed Health, a telehealth app transforming the way we care for pregnant and postpartum people with 24/7 text access to doulas, midwives and nurses. On a mission to democratize accessibility, emotional support and well-being for all birthing people, Taitt comes to this work through the highly personal experience of navigating her own pregnancy loss in an inequitable medical system. She is a deep believer that technology can and should leverage its power to connect us all with radical empathy.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.