Overdue: A Resource Helping Black Expecting Mothers Find Their Voice
Knowledge can be a life-saving power, especially in navigating the ongoing Black maternal health crisis.
Black women dying from birth-related complications at three times the rate of white women is now widely known. The fact that many of these tragedies could have been avoided may not be as notable.
That’s why three women, in partnership with Gerber and Black hair brand Un-Ruly, put their minds together to create Overdue, an easily-accessible resource providing Black birthing people with essential knowledge about pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
Immediacy is one pivotal function of Overdue. Why?
“Because women dying due to situations that could have been avoided is too big of a tragedy to not respond swiftly,” said Antonia Opiah, co-founder of Un-Ruly and co-creator of Overdue. She partnered with Tomi Atikunde, owner of Black motherhood website mater mea, which houses the resource, and holistic fertility and birth doula Ebony Harvey. The trio worked tirelessly across various time zones to produce the guide.
“How quickly we respond can literally be the difference between life and death when it comes to matters of health,” Opiah said. “And of all the things that need to be done to address the crisis, equipping expectant Black moms and birthing people with knowledge that helps them navigate some of the challenges that may arise is one of the easiest things we can do and it can potentially have a big impact.”
Overdue features a free collection of blogs and videos about the key stages of pregnancy, so mothers can easily find subjects relevant to their current stage.
Opiah expressed gratitude that Harvey, a licensed medical professional with mental health training, was part of the team.
“She really is a wealth of information and also has such a warm and inviting demeanor,” Opiah said of the registered nurse, lactation education specialist and wellness coach. “Child birth takes both a mental and physical toll so it was really great to partner with someone that looks at the journey so holistically.”
Presenting Black birthing parents with this knowledge puts the power in their hands; it gives them a voice. Overdue reveals various aspects of childbirth, including vital knowledge about hospitals. It addresses how ultra-critical support is and the psychological and physical aspects of postpartum health.
It reminds expectant moms that although a crisis lingers, there is still joy in Black childbirth — especially when armed with information.
“Knowledge really really really is power and can save lives,” said Opiah, who noted how much she learned in creating Overdue. “Often times we go into doctor’s offices or hospitals ready to do whatever we’re told because we’re in the hands of people that are way more studied than we are. Yes, these people are (hopefully) experts in their fields but only you are an expert in your body and what’s normal for you and when something feels really wrong. The doctor-patient relationship should be a collaboration and not a dictatorship. The patient should play an active role. And I now know that approaching any medical relationship that way can truly change the outcome of your experience.
“And that’s one of the key things I hope expecting parents take away from Overdue.”