How Elaine Welteroth's First Pregnancy Changed Her Relationship to Her Health

For Elaine Welteroth, having a baby completely changed her relationship with her health. The author and former Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief had a tough pregnancy, with her first trimester being so much harder than anyone had ever told her. “I was exhausted and nauseated every single day for 19 weeks,” she says. “I developed chronic pain in my hip/pelvis area and I was diagnosed with a condition called symphysis pubic dysfunction (SPD).” One in five pregnant women is diagnosed with this condition, which for some, can be debilitating.

“It literally feels like your legs are disconnecting from their sockets,” says Welteroth. “I felt really dependent in a way that was hard for me psychologically and emotionally. It was a very vulnerable time — all for this child that I didn’t plan for, frankly. It was so much change all at once and so much harder than I thought.”

But despite her tough pregnancy, Welteroth had “the most beautiful birth experience.” Thanks to her team of Black midwives and her husband who was also her doula, she felt safe and is still experiencing the natural high post-birth 15 months later. “I’m in love with my baby and I feel so supported.”

As a Black woman, it can be a challenge to find that support during and after pregnancy. “I was aware of the Black maternal mortality crisis in a peripheral sense,” she says. “I tried to insulate myself from that awareness because I didn’t want to bring that fear into my birthing experience. I think that I naively believed my privilege would insulate me in some way from those negative and deadly outcomes that you hear about.”

Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. “That stat is inclusive of every socioeconomic status,” says Welteroth. “It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what school you went to, or who you know. You can very well become a statistic.”

Watch the video above to learn how she wants to change pregnancy and childbirth for the next generation of moms.

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