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As community surveys are available, we will post them here.  Please take a moment and follow the instructions to take any survey that is appropriate to your journey.

Participation helps make your experience heard and it helps us understand how to better serve you.

 

The Maternal Experience Survey aims to improve care and reduce inequities for women of color. Submitting your experience will produce change and better outcomes in New Jersey.

 

If you’ve had one of the following:

 

  • Live birth

  • Still birth 

  • Miscarriage 

  • Abortion

 

Please share your experience. 

 

Upon completion of the survey, you will receive a special e-gift (while supplies last). 

 

Click the buttons below for survey breakouts if you are currently pregnant, recently gave birth, and/or would like to complete the full survey in English or Spanish/ Español. 

 

Thank you for including your voice!

 

Presented by: New Jersey NAACP Black Infant and Maternal Mortality Taskforce

 

The Prematurity Prevention Initiative is a program of Family Health Initiatives (FHI) supported by funding from the NJ Department of Health. FHI is a subsidiary agency of the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative

 

What we are hearing from birthing people in New Jersey.

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Takimah had COVID-19 during the time of her labor and delivery. With no sense of taste or smell and extremely weak, her doctor felt it was best to proceed with a Cesarean (C-Section). Takimah did not have a doula. Although she did have the support of her partner, he was not allowed in the room. 

 

“It’s still a journey and something I feel like I may never recover from. I felt bullied in that labor and delivery room...My son was brought into this world in the hands of a bunch of strangers. They were the first ones he felt and saw all while his father was in another room and his mother was under anesthesia.  I still [to] this day feel robbed of my natural labor,” says Takimah. 

 

Our labor and delivery doesn’t always go as planned. However, knowing your “rights” and ways to properly advocate for yourself is important. Takimah’s story reminds us about the importance of support and advocacy. 

 

Take the Maternal Experience Survey and help improve the labor and delivery experience for birthing people in New Jersey.

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I found out I was pregnant with my daughter in October of 2019. I had already been a doula for almost a year and I knew I wanted to have a different birth outcome than I did with my son in 2011 (cesarean). I wanted to try for a VBAC, even though I was high risk. I knew it was still possible and my doctor seemed to be on board. 

 

I was put out on disability at the end of January 2020, literally weeks before the pandemic changed all of our lives. I was told my cervix was short and my doctor suggested I stop working in order to be on modified home rest. I was thankful to be home when my children were sent home from school and went completely virtual in March 2020. 

 

For the most part, I felt good during my pregnancy despite the fact that my high risk status required many doctor’s appointments. I was struggling with my pre-existing conditions and followed closely to my doctor’s instructions. At my 38 week visit my blood pressure was high and I had protein in my urine. My doctor immediately began speaking of a cesarean even though she knew my desires for a VBAC.   

 

Part of me feels like it was more convenient for her to do the cesarean, particularly at a different hospital than I had chosen. She already had 2 patients in labor there and I’m sure going to a different hospital 35 minutes away was not ideal for HER. Ultimately my husband and I decided to go to the hospital she suggested since it was closer to home and we had two other children at home we had to think about. I was told they would monitor my pressure but as soon as I arrived they began giving me medication for my pressure and started talking about a cesarean. I was discouraged and disheartened but I understood the dangers of preeclampsia and the effects it could have on me and my baby. I, again, felt robbed of a birth experience I desired, bad enough we were in the middle of a pandemic!

 

I was extremely nervous, almost terrified during my cesarean. As a doula I now had more knowledge about the risks and dangers that can occur during and after surgery. As my doctor was doing the procedure she noticed that the bottom of my uterus was very thin and she said that if I would have tried to labor it more than likely would’ve ruptured! So when I think about how much I didn’t want the cesarean, I was grateful that I got it because it probably saved my life and possibly my daughters!

 

My daughter had swallowed quite a bit of meconium and was rushed to NICU where she was put on a ventilator which was eventually downgraded to a CPAP machine, all within the first few hours of her life. I was not able to see her except in the pictures that my husband was able to take. Because of Covid, once my husband left me he was not able to return. He had to go to take care of our other children, while I was left in the hospital alone. When I was finally able to go to my room later that evening I was determined to see my daughter. The nurse took me to her and I was able to hold her and do some skin to skin despite all the wires attached to her. When I made it to my room and it was time for me to get up to use the bathroom, all I can remember is a nurse aid who would not help me sit up out of the bed. She was literally looking at the television that was on in my room as I struggled to position myself to try to sit up. I remember crying out in pain, “please I need help!” I could not believe how I felt she had no concern for me, knowing I had just had a caesarean.

 

My blood pressure was still extremely elevated even with different medications. I was grateful when they “allowed” me to stay another day for monitoring since it was clear my daughter would not be able to go home with me.  I went to the nursery for almost every feeding unless I was sleeping. I pumped what I could and took my drops of colostrum to the nursery for them to give my daughter. I mothered her the best I could while she was in the NICU as I tried not to lose myself in my anxiety and concern for my own health.

 

When I left the hospital my blood pressure still wasn’t controlled…but it was time to GO! For days and weeks to follow I remember feeling so much anxiety and panic as I struggled with my blood pressure and different ailments in my body that the doctors said was “normal”. I walked around panicked that I was going to be the next statistic, the next black woman who died after childbirth. There were nights that I would get so overwhelmed in my anxiety and panic that my husband would literally have to hold me, remind me to breathe and pray for me. The uncertainty and despair of the pandemic, the reality of trying to adjust to life with a newborn (who was completely different from my other children), and my own anxiety left me overwhelmed for the first 3-4 months postpartum. 

 

I was blessed to be able to use NJ Family Leave Insurance after my temporary disability was over. When I applied it had just changed over from 6 weeks to 12 weeks bonding time. I was so grateful because there was NO WAY I could think about going back to work or trying to find day care for my daughter during a pandemic and while I was struggling with my anxiety. My daughter is now a healthy 17-month ball of joy and energy! This past year and a half has definitely been challenging to say the least. I am back to work, thankfully working from home so I can still be with my daughter. I still have reservations about day care at this time so being able to care for her myself has been a blessing…and overwhelming! My reasons for wanting to become a doula was to be the support that other women needed, the kind of care that I didn’t get. My reasons have now expanded to include the realization of how important postpartum care is. I have now transitioned into just postpartum doula work but my mission continues: to ensure that women are heard in professional medical spaces, to ensure that they are cared for as they care for their baby, and to share my story so that others can share theirs and know that they aren’t alone. 

How can your birthing team properly support and communicate with you?

Let us know by taking the Maternal Experience Survey.

The Maternal Experience Survey is a safe and confidential place to share your experiences before, during, and after pregnancy. Once you have completed the form below, you will be directed to the Maternal Experience Survey. On the landing page, you will be able to choose the survey that works best for you and view stories shared by NJ birthing people. Thank you for taking the time to inspire change for better pregnancy and birth outcomes in New Jersey.