I work as a doula. Although I love my job, I can’t help but be bothered by how the world seems to think that only white women care about childbirth. The literature of unmedicated childbirth often co-opts experiences of women of color to serve as an inspiring example of unmedicated birth, while also leaving people of color out of the general discussion and advocacy related to pregnancy and birth. But this kind of systemic racism isn’t limited to the “natural” birth movement: It’s happening everywhere in the “mainstream” pregnancy world, too.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but women of color are seriously missing from the imagery of anything that has to do with being pregnant, giving birth to a child, or parenting a newborn. Every cover of every pregnancy book? A white woman. Every baby book? A white baby. Don’t believe me? Here, look. This is the result of a Google image search for pregnancy book:
When I searched for pregnancy book on Amazon, there was one ambiguously brunette woman out of the first thirty-two books that came up. Here on Barnes and Noble’s Pregnancy & Childbirth page, there’s one woman of color depicted in the first thirty books (and she’s a drawing, on the cover of a book with two other white people). Here are the covers of some of the pregnancy/newborn books I own as a doula (except for about five of them which got lost in my recent move and some that live in my doula bag.) And these are like, the hippie, liberal birth books!
See a theme developing here? Now obviously, the biological processes of being pregnant and giving birth are the same, no matter what your race or ethnicity. But I think the racism that’s evident in birth imagery is worthy of comment and worthy of calling out.