Abstract / Description: 

Tanefer Camara had no intention of giving birth at home. She’d planned, with her midwife, to do it in a hospital.

But at 38 weeks, she went into labor. When she called her midwife to say she thought it was time to go to the hospital, the midwife dismissed her, telling her to wait a little longer at home.

Camara then found herself sprawled on her bed with the uncontrollable urge to push. Assisted only by her husband and then-6-year-old son, she gave birth to a daughter within 30 minutes, covering her bed in blood and other fluids.

“I was not prepared for a home birth,” Camara, who’s a lactation consultant in Oakland, California, said. Her husband had to scramble to find something to tie the umbilical cord. He used a shoelace. On the way to the hospital, Camara developed blood clots. When she arrived, she was hemorrhaging and had to take medication to stop the bleeding.

In the end, she and her daughter were healthy. But “every step of the way, I had to advocate for myself,” she said. “If I didn’t have the knowledge that I had around pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, it could have been a lot worse.”

eCardio Hub Collection
Racism and Health
Julia Belluz