Actor Jodie Turner-Smith says 'systemic racism' led to her decision to have a home birth

The model-turned-actor and her husband, Joshua Jackson, welcomed their first child in April, and the choice of a home birth wasn’t one they took lightly.
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Jodie Turner-Smith opened up to British Vogue about how “systemic racism” prompted to have a home birth in April. Tolga Akmen / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Jodie Turner-Smith and husband Joshua Jackson welcomed a baby girl to the world in April, and they did so from their own home rather than a hospital. But the decision to do it that way was rooted in more than just personal preference.

According to the 33-year-old first-time mom, they ultimately picked a home-birth plan because of racial injustice and the life-or-death consequences that can come with it.

In an interview with British Vogue, Turner-Smith explained that they “decided on a home birth, because of concerns about negative birth outcomes for Black women in America — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of pregnancy-related deaths is more than three times greater for Black women than for white women, pointing, it seems to me, to systemic racism.”

Joshua Jackson and Jodie Turner-Smith attend the British Vogue and Tiffany & Co. Fashion and Film Party at Annabel's on February 2, 2020 in London, England.David M. Benett / Getty Images

In fact, just last year, the CDC noted that while most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, “racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related deaths have persisted over time.”

But Turner-Smith went on to say that, even though the at-home approach was what she and Jackson had always wanted due to the aforementioned reason, they were extra appreciative of the plan once the coronavirus pandemic began to impact delivery rooms.

“We never imagined that in the coming weeks, hospitals around the country would begin restricting who could be present in the birthing rooms, forcing mothers to deliver without the support person or people of their choice,” she told the publication. “Delivering at home ensured that I had what every single woman deserves to have: full agency in determining my birth support.”

And having the support of her husband during labor was non-negotiable for Turner-Smith, especially given how long she spent in labor — four full days!

“Early in the morning on my third day of labor, my husband and I shared a quiet moment,” she shared. “I was fatigued and beginning to lose my resolve. Josh ran me a bath, and as I lay in it contracting, I talked to my body and I talked to my daughter. In that moment, he snapped a picture of me. An honest moment of family and togetherness — a husband supporting a wife, our baby still inside me, the sacred process of creating a family.”

Now that their baby girl is with them, Turner-Smith is looking ahead to the future and one important conversation in particular.

“Sometimes I wonder how I will explain to my daughter what it meant to be born in the year 2020,” she mused. “The historic events, the social unrest, and me — a new mother just trying to do her best.”

The model-turned-actor believes she’ll tell her daughter that “it was as if the world had paused for her to be born.” She hopes that she might also be able to tell her that “it never quite returned to the way it was before.”

Turner-Smith's essay on her decision to have a home birth appears in the September issue of British Vogue.