MetroFocus: January 12, 2023

“AFTERSHOCK”:  FILM SPOTLIGHTS THE MATERNAL HEALTH CRISIS

“Aftershock” is a new documentary highlighting the maternal mortality crisis in the United States.  Following the preventable deaths of two young Black women due to childbirth complications- the two surviving families galvanize activists, birth-workers, and physicians to seek justice through legislation, medical accountability, community, and the power of art.  Their work introduces viewers to a myriad of people including a growing brotherhood of surviving Black fathers, along with the work of midwives and physicians on the ground fighting for institutional reform.  “Aftershock” is available to stream on Hulu.

TRANSCRIPT

TONIGHT, BLACK WOMEN ARE DIEING FROM CHILDBIRTH COMPLICATIONS AT AN ALARMING RATE THAT EXPERTS SAY COULD BE AVOID.

MEET THE BROTHERHOOD OF BLACK MEN WHO LOST THEIR PARTNERS AND ARE FIGHTING DECADES OF RACISM IN THE INDUSTRY AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

A BLACK WOMAN HAVING A BABY IN AMERICA IS LIKE A BLACK MAN AT A TRAFFIC STOP WITH THE POLICE -- THAT A STIRRING LINE FROM A NEW POWERFUL DOCUMENTARY WHICH HIGHLIGHTS THE MATERNAL MORTALITY CRISIS THAT WOMEN AND PARTICULARLY WOMEN OF COLOR, ARE FACING IN THIS COUNTRY.

THE UNITED STATES HAS THE HIGHEST MATERNAL MORTALITY RATE OF ANY INDUSTRIALIZED NATION, AND RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, BLACK WOMEN ARE EIGHT TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DIE FROM PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS THAN WHITE WOMEN.

THE FILM TITLED 'AFTERSHOCK,' AND AVAILABLE NOW TO STREAM ON HULU, EXPLORES HOW RACISM AND MISOGYNY HAVE BECOME EMBEDDED INTO OUR MEDICAL SYSTEM, RESULTING IN COUNTLESS UNNECESSARY DEATHS.

THE FILM ALSO FOLLOWS TWO MEN WHO LOST THEIR PARTNERS DUE TO CHILDBIRTH COMP IMPLICATION, EMPHASIING THE TREMENDOUS IMPACT THESE LOSSES HAVE LEFT ON THOSE LEFT BEHIND.

HERE'S A QUICK LOOK.

MY DAUGHTER'S STORY IS LOUD, COLORFUL, AND ARTFUL.

SHE WAS AWAKE, AWARE, AND ACTIVE.

HEY, BABY.

AND YET SHE STILL DIED.

AFTER SHE GAVE BIRTH, SHE WAS COMPLAINING THAT SHE HAD REALLY SHARP CHEST PAINS.

THE AMBULANCE CAME.

I'M TELLING THEM THE SYMPTOMS.

IS SHE ON DRUGS?

THEY KEPT ASKING MY MOTHER, IS SHE ON ANY DRUGS?

I'M LIKE, DO Y'ALL TALK?

WE WAITED A SOLID 12 HOURS.

SHE'S GONE.

BLACK WOMEN ARE FOUR TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DIE THAN THEIR WHITE COUNTERPARTS WITH THE SAME SYMPTOMS.

WHY IS THAT?

THIS IS A GROWING EPIDEMIC IN OUR COMMUNITY.

HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS OF MEN ARE GOING THROUGH THIS SAME SITUATION.

♪ YOU COULDN'T TELL ME THAT I WOULDN'T BE THERE ♪

I'VE NEVER LIVED IN THIS HOUSE WITHOUT HER.

YOU JUST GOT TO KEEP PUSHING FORWARD.

I CAN'T LET AMBER BE ANOTHER STATISTIC.

♪ I HAD IT PLANNED, I HAD IT MAPPED OUT.

IF THESE NUMBERS WERE FLIPPED AROUND AND WHITE WOMEN WERE DYING IT WOULD BE A NATIONAL CRISIS.

EVENT BY EVENT IN ORDER TO CREATE CHANGE.

WE CAN TURN OUR PAIN INTO POWER AND MAKE SOMETHING OF THIS.

SHAMANI GIBSON.

WE HEAR YOU, WE SEE YOU.

I PLANNED ON SPENDING A LIFETIME WITH AMBER.

I WANTED TO GIVE HER MY LIFE.

THIS WAY I'M STILL GOING TO.

THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TWEETED, INSTAGRAMED, FACEBOOKED.

THIS FIGHT IS NOT OVER.

WHEN BLACK MOTHERS DAY THERE'S A RIPPLE EFFECT.

WE CALL IT AFTERSHOCK.

AND JOINING ME NOW, TO DISCUSS 'AFTERSHOCK' AND THE GROWING BIRTH JUSTICE MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES ARE PAULA EISELT, TONYA LEWIS LEE, OMARI MAYNARD, AND BRUCE McINTYRE.

PAULA AND TONYA ARE THE PRODUCERS AND DIRECTORS OF 'AFTERSHOCK' AND OMARI AND BRUCE ARE TWO MEN FEATURED IN THE FILM WHO LOST THEIR PARTNERS DUE TO CHILDBIRTH COMPLICATIONS.

WELCOME TO EVERYONE TO THE SHOW.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

THANK YOU.

ABSOLUTELY TO EVERYONE.

BUT PAULA, I DO WANT TO START WITH YOU AND JUST GET YOUR TAKE ON THE IMPORTANCE OF A FILM LIKE THIS.

ONE OF THE QUESTIONS, WHENEVER THERE'S A REVELATORY DOCUMENTARY WE COVER IS, WHY NOW?

WHY IS NOW THE TIME FOR THE FILM TO BE DONE?

GREAT QUESTION, THANK YOU.

TONYA AND I CAME TOGETHER TO DO THIS FILM, BECAUSE IN 2017, A SLEW OF ARTICLES CAME OUT OF THE MEDIA, SPECIFICALLY PROPUBLICA, REALLY ANNOUNCING TO THE MEDIA WE WERE IN FACT IN A MATERNAL MORTALITY CRISIS.

THIS IS SOMETHING THAT THE COMMUNITY HAS KNOWN FOR A LONG, LONG TIME, AND BLACK WOMEN HAVE BEEN SOUNDING THE ALARM.

IT WASN'T UNTIL A FEW YEARS AGO THE MEDIA WOKE UP.

THERE WERE STATISTICS COMING OUT ABOUT THIS CRISIS, BUT IT'S HARD FOR PEOPLE TO GRAB ON TO THAT WITHOUT THE HUMAN FACES AND LIVED EXPERIENCES OF PEOPLE.

SO IT WAS REALLY IMPORTANT TO JUMP ON THIS AND GET GOING IN TELLING A FILM THAT CAN RESONATE WITH PEOPLE BEYOND THE STATISTICS.

IT'S AS URGENT AS EVER.

IT'S ALWAYS BEEN URGENT, BUT ESPECIALLY NOW WITH REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE, BEING ATTACKED FROM ALL ENDS, IT'S EVEN MORE IMPORTANT.

AND WHEN WE TALK ABOUT HOW IT WAS A FEW YEARS AGO THAT THIS SORT OF REACHED THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION, TONYA, I'M WONDERING HOW CRITICAL WAS IT THAT A VOICE LIKE SERENA WILLIAMS WAS ADDED TO THIS CONVERSATION TO REALLY MAKE, I GUESS, THE LARGER NEWS MEDIA, NOT JUST A PUBLICATION LIKE PROPUBLICA, VERY IMPORTANT, BUT THE LARGER MEDIA PAY ATTENTION.

I THINK THAT SERENA COMING OUT AND SHARING HER EXPERIENCE WAS HUGE, HUGE ON A COUPLE OF LEVELS.

I THINK THAT ANECDOTALLY I KNOW THAT WOMEN AND FAMILIES IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY ALREADY KNEW THAT SOMETHING WAS HAPPENING.

I THINK MOST PEOPLE KNOW SOMEONE OR KNOW OF SOMEONE WHO HAS PASSED AWAY FROM CHILDBIRTH COMPLICATIONS.

PEOPLE HAVE EXPERIENCED TRAUMA WITH THEIR HEALTH-CARE PROVIDERS GIVING BIRTH.

AND SO WHEN SERENA CAME OUT AND TOLD HER STORY, I THINK PEOPLE -- SOME PEOPLE WERE LIKE, OH, MY GOSH, THAT KIND OF HAPPENED TO ME, AND IT WAS VALIDATING TO THEM.

FOR THOSE THAT DID NOT KNOW, IT WAS A WAKEUP CALL.

AND AS A WOMAN IN OUR FILM, FELICIA SAYS, IF SERENA, WHO IS THE BEST ATHLETE IN THE WORLD HAS TO FIGHT FOR HER OWN HEALTH DURING CHILDBIRTH, THEN WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE REST OF US?

SO I REALLY APPLAUD HER.

I KNOW BEYONCE ALSO SHARED SOME OF THE COMP IMPLICATION SHE HAD.

FOR THESE WOMEN TO COME OUT AND SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES, LESS PEOPLE KNOW IT'S HAPPENING AND REMINDS US THAT WE'RE NOT ALONE WHEN WE'RE EXPERIENCING THESE THINGS.

I WOULD LIKE TO BRING THE TWO GENTLEMAN INTO THE FILM, BECAUSE YOU BOTH PLAY VERY PROMINENT ROLES.

AND SO FOR OMARI, I KNOW THAT YOU LOST YOUR PARTNER, AND I WANT TO YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT SHAMANI GIBSON, WHO SHE WAS AND, YOU KNOW, JUST WHAT WERE HER DREAMS FOR MOTHERHOOD?

YEAH, MOST DEFINITELY.

SHE WAS A BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN.

SHE WAS HEALTHY, VIBRANT.

SHE JUST RECEIVED HER DEGREE IN BUSINESS AND WAS GOING TO GET HER MASTERS DEGREE IN ACCOUNTING.

WE HAD TWO CHILDREN TOGETHER, 5 AND -- WELL, MY DAUGHTER'S 5 NOW, MY SON IS 3 NOW.

BUT AS SOON AS WE GOT OUT THE HOSPITAL WITH KARI, SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT HAVING ANOTHER CHILD LIKE THREE OR FOUR DAYS AFTER THEY BROUGHT KARI HOME, SO SHE WAS ALWAYS INTO FAMILY.

JUST SUPER LOVING, GREAT.

SHE HAD GOALS.

WE HAD A BUSINESS TOGETHER CALLED ARTFUL LIVING.

SHE WAS AN ARTIST AND ENTREPRENEUR, AND SHE WAS GROOMING ME, HONESTLY, IN CREATING THAT PATHWAY FOR US TO CREATE THIS BUSINESS TOGETHER AND LEAVE SOMETHING FOR OUR CHILDREN.

BRUCE, SAME QUESTION TO YOU ABOUT YOUR PARTNER, AMBER ROSE ISAAC.

AMBER WAS SUCH A LIGHT.

AMBER WAS A VERY WARM AND WELCOME PERSON, ONE OF THE MOST KINDEST, SWEETEST PEOPLE I'VE EVER KNOWN IN LIFE, VERY HEALTHY WOMAN AS WELL.

SOMEONE THAT TOOK CARE OF HERSELF, HER BODY, WAS WATCHING THE THINGS SHE WAS PUTTING INTO HER BODY.

YOU KNOW, VERY SMART AND INTELLIGENT WOMAN.

SHE HAD HER BACHELOR'S DEGREE FROM PSYCHOLOGY, AND SHE WAS ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO BE WALKING WITH MY SON IN ARMS WHILE SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE RECEIVING HER MASTERS DEGREE IN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT.

SHE WANTED TO CREATE ART THERAPY PROGRAMS FOR THE YOUTH, AND SHE EVENTUALLY WANTED TO START HER OWN SCHOOL.

YOU KNOW, VERY INTELLIGENT WOMAN, WAS DEFINITELY -- LIKE THE GLUE TO OUR FAMILY.

SHE BROUGHT US TOGETHER.

BROUGHT THE PEOPLE TOGETHER.

SHE MADE US LAUGH, CRY, MADE US DO GROUP ACTIVITIES WITH OUR FAMILY AND FAMILY BUILDING ACTIVITIES.

SHE WAS VERY FAMILY ORIENTED.

SHE'S TRULY MISSED.

PAULA, I WANT TO COME BACK TO YOU AND ASK, BECAUSE THE FILM NOT ONLY COVERS THESE VERY INTIMATE AND VERY PAINFUL STORIES TO HEAR, BUT IT ALSO GETS INTO THE MEDICAL SYSTEM AND HOW WE GOT TO THIS PLACE, BECAUSE I THINK FOR PERHAPS A LOT OF YOUNG WOMEN, PARTICULARLY BLACK WOMEN WHO ARE IN THEIR CHILD BEARING YEARS, THEIR MOTHERS DIDN'T SEEM TO FACE THESE SAME ISSUES GIVING BIRTH IN THE '70s AND '80s.

WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT WHAT CHANGED?

YEAH, THANK YOU FOR THE QUESTION.

IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO KNOW HOW WE GOT HERE IN ORDER TO FIND THE SOLUTIONS, AND I THINK THE MATERNAL MORTALITY CRISIS DIDN'T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT.

IT'S UNTIL TODAY THAT BLACK WOMEN HAVE BEEN TORTURED BY THE AMERICAN HEALTH-CARE SYSTEM, BUT IN TERM OF THE LAST 25 YEARS, IT SEEMS WITH THE RISE IN C-SECTION RATES, THAT HAS REALLY PROPELLED A LOT OF THIS MATERNAL MORTALITY CRISIS.

AND BLACK WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO GET C-SECTIONS, MORE LIKELY TO NOT BE SEEN AND HEARD, WHICH WILL LEAD TO A C-SECTION.

IT'S THE RISE IN C-SECTIONS AND THE FACT THAT OUR HEALTH-CARE SYSTEM IS SO OVERWHELMED AND DYSFUNCTIONAL THAT YOU HAVE A LOT OF TRAINEES AND RESIDENTS WHO ARE TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE THAT THEY SHOULDN'T BE TAKING CARE OF OR THE PEOPLE MOST AT RISK, WHICH YOU WOULD THINK THAT IF BLACK WOMEN ARE MOST AT RISK FOR DIEING IN CHILDBIRTH, YOU WOULD HAVE TO BEST DOCTORS TAKING CARE OF THEM, BUT INSTEAD YOU HAVE TO TRAINEES TAKING CARE OF THEM.

IT'S THE RISE IN C-SECTIONS, HAVING UNTRAINED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS TRAIN ON BLACK WOMEN, AND THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO NOTE SO WE CAN SOLVE THAT.

NOW, I WANT TO ASK WHAT WAS GOING TO SOUND LIKE AN INCREDIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTION, BUT I'M SURE IT'S SOMETHING PEOPLE AREN'T ADMITTING THEY'RE WONDERING, AND THAT IS, DON'T THE TRAINEES HAVE TO TRAIN SOMEWHERE?

TONYA, I'M WONDERING IF YOU COULD TELL US ABOUT HOW AMERICA'S HISTORY WITH MEDICAL TRAINING FITS INTO THE SITUATION WE'RE IN NOW.

BECAUSE IT'S NOT A COINCIDENCE, OR THE FAME MAKES IT'S CLEAR IT'S NOT A COINCIDENCE, THAT TRAINEES ARE GETTING THEIR TRAINING ON BLACK WOMEN.

RIGHT, AND THAT IS AN ISSUE.

I TALK TO DOCTORS OF ALL RACES, THAT SAY, BUT DOCTORS HAVE TO TRAIN ON PEOPLE.

THE ISSUE IS IN THIS COUNTRY -- AND WE HAVE A WONDERFUL MIDWIFE IN THE FILM NAMED HELENA GRANT WHO GIVES US THE HISTORY HERE, ABOUT HOW AFTER -- WELL, DURING SLAVERY, PEOPLE WHO WERE TRAINING IN THE MEDICAL PROFESSION HAD PEOPLE WHO WERE ENSLAVED, WHO HAD NO RIGHTS, AND THEY TRAINED ON THEM.

THEY USED THEM TO LEARN, AND THAT'S HOW THE INDUSTRY OR THE PROFESSION OF GYNECOLOGY WAS ABLE TO GROW AND EXPAND AND HOW THE UNITED STATES BECAME A LEADER, BECAUSE THEY HAD HUMAN BODIES THEY COULD WORK ON AND EXPERIMENT ON, AND THOSE HUMAN BODIES HAD NO AUTONOMY AND NO WAY TO SAY, NO, WE DON'T WANT THIS.

ALSO, YOU KNOW, HISTORICALLY WE HAVE HAD MIDWIVES IN THE UNITED STATES.

MIDWIVES HAVE BEEN AROUND SINCE THE TIME OF ANCIENT.

MIDWIVES HAD A REAL WAY OF TRAINING, COMING THROUGH AN APPRENTICESHIP ONE AFTER THE OTHER, AND MODERN MEDICINE CAME IN AT A POINT AND DECIDED THEY WANTED TO TAKE THE ECONOMY OF BIRTHING OUT OF THE HANDS OF WOMEN.

THEY WANTED TO DRIVE WOMEN INTO HOSPITALS SO THAT THEY COULD MAKE MONEY.

AND WE -- AND THEY VILIFIED THOSE MIDWIVES.

THERE WAS AN ORCHESTRATED CAMPAIGN TO MAKE MIDWIVES SEEM SCARY AND UNSAFE, AND IT STILL PERMEATES TODAY, SUCH THAT THE UNITED STATES IS THE ONLY NATION THAT DOESN'T HAVE MIDWIFERY AT THE CENTER OF WOMEN'S CARE, AND THAT'S ANOTHER REASON WE'RE SEEING SUCH HIGH MATERNAL MORTALITY RATES.

WE KEEP TRYING TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM WITH MORE TECHNOLOGY, MORE MEDICINE AS OPPOSED TO TRYING TO FOCUS ON THE FACT THAT BIRTHING IS A NATURAL PROCESS, AND HOW CAN WE SORT OF AID IN THAT AND NOT INTERVENE TOO OFTEN.

BRUCE AND OMARI, DID BOTH OF YOUR PARTNERS HAVE C-SECTIONS?

YES.

SHAMANI HAD A C-SECTION WITH BOTH OF OUR CHILDREN.

AND WE TALK ABOUT THIS A LOT AND HER MOTHER BRINGS IT UP, SHE TALKS ABOUT THE GENERATIONAL TRAUMA.

IT'S A REAL THING WHEN A WOMAN IS TRYING TO DI DILATE AND CAN'T BECAUSE OF SO MUCH THINGS GOING ON IN THE HOSPITAL AROUND HER, AND GENERATIONS CENTERS AROUND PREGNANCY AND BRINGING LIFE INTO THE WORLD, ANDI THAT'S ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS SHE WASN'T DILATING.

THE WAY THAT THE MEDICAL SYSTEM WOULD HAVE LIKED HER TO.

I DON'T KNOW IF WE HAVE TIME, BUT WE CAN TALK ABOUT THE DOLLARS AND CENTS OF IT IN TERM OF THE TIME IT TAKES FOR A C-SECTION AS OPPOSED TO A NATURAL BIRTH.

THESE ARE ALL THE THINGS THAT LED TO HER DEMISE.

SAME.

AMBER ALSO HAD AN EMERGENCY C-SECTION WHEN WE WERE SUPPOSED TO ONLY BE GOING IN FOR A CHECKUP, AND THEY ENDED UP INDUCING HER IN LABOR THAT WEEKEND WHENEVER THEY DISCOVERED HER PLATELETS WERE VERY LOW AND HER BLOOD WAS UNABLE TO CLOT, AND HER BLOOD WAS VERY WATER LIKE IS WHEN THEY DECIDED TO DO AN EMERGENCY C-SECTION ON HER ALONG WITH AN EMERGENCY HIS REKTMY.

THEY CUT HER CHEST OPEN TO MANUALLY MASSAGE HER HERT FOR TWO HOURS AND SHE ULTIMATELY DIED FROM BLEED OUT.

THE FILM ALSO LAYS OUT HOW IT'S NOT JUST A LACK OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN PATIENT AND PROVIDER, BUT SOMETIMES TEAMS DON'T ALWAYS TALK TO EACH OTHER.

AND SO, BRUCE, IF YOU COULD JUST TAKE US THROUGH WHAT YOUR EXPERIENCE WAS WHEN IT CAME TO COMMUNICATION WITH THE MEDICAL TEAM THAT WAS CARING FOR AMBER.

WELL, AMBER'S MOTHER HAD BEEN WORKING AT THAT SAME FACILITY FOR 25 YEARS OUT OF AMBER'S 26 YEARS OF LIFE, SO WE WERE HAVING TO CONSTANTLY GO THROUGH HER MOTHER TO GET ADVOCACY, BECAUSE AMBER WAS BEING NEGLECTED.

AND SHE WASN'T RECEIVING THE INFORMATION IN A TIMELY MANNER, WHICH COULD HAVE SAVED HER LIFE.

AND, YOU KNOW, THERE WERE DOCTORS WHO WERE WRITING OFF ON HER PAPER WORK AS IF EVERYTHING WERE FINE AS HER HEALTH WAS CLEARLY DETERIORATING AT A RAPID RATE.

AND YOU KNOW, SHE'S ADVOCATING FOR HERSELF.

SHE'S TRYING TO GET EARLY FMLA, EARLY DISABILITY.

SHE'S MAKING HER OBGYN AWARE OF HER FEELINGS AND HOW SHE'S FEELING AND HER SYMPTOMS ARE BEING BRUSHED OFF.

SHE'S BEING TOLD THERE ARE OTHER PREGNANT WOMEN WORKING THROUGH THIS.

WHY SHOULDN'T YOU BE ABLE TO WORK?

AND WROTE ON ONE OF AMBER'S FMLA FORMS SHE WANTED TO LEAVE FOR PERSONAL REASONS VERSUS HOW SHE'S FEELING ON HER CONDITION.

OMARI, SAME QUESTION -- ABOUT THE COMMUNICATION WITH THE TEAMS.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL HAPPENED?

I FEEL LIKE, YOU KNOW, A LACK OF COMMUNICATION IS -- IS -- IT DOESN'T SUFFICE.

I FEEL LIKE FOR SHAMANI, WHEN WE WERE -- I WENT TO ALL THE HOSPITAL VISITS WITH HER.

WE HAD A DOULA, MIDWIFE, A BIRTHING PLAN.

WE KNEW WHAT WE WANTED TO DO, BUT WHEN IT CAME DOWN TO IT, WHEN IT WAS TIME FOR HER TO GIVE BIRTH, ESSENTIALLY, YOU KNOW, THAT MEDICAL PLAN WENT OUT THE WINDOW BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT THERE WAS ANOTHER AGENDA, AND THE AGENDA WAS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE BABY CAME OUT REGARDLESS OF HOW SHAMANI WANTED OR FELT ABOUT IT, AND THAT WE WERE AT HOME AS FAST AS POSSIBLE.

THE THING IS IS THAT ONCE WE GOT HOME, WE CALLED THE HOSPITAL MULTIPLE TIMES AND LET THEM KNOW WHAT THE SYMPTOMS WAS.

WE TOLD THEM SHE WAS HAVING SHORTNESS OF BREATH.

TOLD THEM THAT SHE WAS HAVING TROUBLE WALKING AND GETTING UP AND DOWN STEPS, AND WE TOLD THEM THIS COULD POSSIBLY BE SIGNS OF A PULMONARY EMBOLISM.

BUT BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT UNFORTUNATELY, AUTONOMY ON OUR BODY IS ONE THING, BUT ALSO OUR OPINIONS AGAINST PROFESSIONAL OPINIONS OF MEDICAL, YOU KNOW, STAFF, IS A DIFFERENT STORY, YOU KNOW, SO THAT'S ONE PIECE TO IT.

AND THEN THE NEXT PIECE IS THEN ONCE SHE DID GO INTO CARDIAC ARREST AT THE HOUSE, BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THE BLOOD CLOT GOT TO HER HEART, NO COMMUNICATION.

WE WERE TELLING THEM THAT SHE'S HAVING A PULMONARY EMBOLISM, BUT ANY TIME MORE MEDICAL TEAMS CAME IN AND THE MORE TIMES THE FIRE DEPARTMENT CAME AND KEPT ASKING US THE SAME QUESTIONS.

YOU KNOW, IS SHE ON DRUGS?

IS SHE ON DRUGS?

WE'RE TELLING THEM WHAT'S GOING ON.

AS ALL THIS TIME IS PASSING, YOU KNOW, MY PARTNER'S CODING.

CODING MULTIPLE TIMES TRYING TO FIGHT FOR HER LIFE, AND UNFORTUNATELY BECAUSE OF THESE VERY NUANCED THINGS, YOU KNOW, WE'RE COMING DOWN TO MINUTES AND SECONDS OF TRYING TO SAVE SOMEBODY'S LIFE, WE'RE WASTING TIME.

AND AGAIN, YOU KNOW, MISCOMMUNICATION, LACK OF COMMUNICATION, AND ALSO LACK OF LISTENING IS WHAT CAUSED HER TO PASS AWAY.

SO, GIVEN ALL OF THIS INFORMATION, THESE TWO INCREDIBLY POWERFUL STORIES THAT WE ALSO LEARN THROUGH THE FILM ARE UNFORTUNATELY ARE NOT UNUSUAL, PAULA, I WANT TO ASK YOU AND TONYA SPECIFICALLY FOR PERHAPS A YOUNG EXPECTANT MOTHER WHO MIGHT SEE THIS OR MIGHT SEE THE FILM, IS THERE SOMETHING THEY CAN TAKE AWAY ABOUT SOMETHING THEY CAN DO?

BECAUSE THIS ALL DOES SOUND REALLY QUITE FRIGHTENING.

YEAH.

I MEAN, WE -- WE DID NOT WANT TO MAKE A DOOM AND GLOOM FILM, AND THERE'S SO MUCH HOPE AND SOLUTIONS THAT CAN BE TAKEN FROM 'AFTERSHOCK.'

FIRST AND FORE MOST, AN EXPECTANT MOTHER, YOU ARE THE CONSUMER.

THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM SHOULD WORK FOR YOU.

IT'S A HUMAN RIGHT TO BIRTH WITH WHEREVER YOU WANT THE BIRTH AND WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BIRTH WITH.

WE DEFINITELY NEED MORE MIDWIVES, BUT THEY ARE THERE, YOU CAN FIND THEM.

YOU CAN HAVE A DOULA.

THERE ARE MANY PROGRAMS OPENING IN DIFFERENT STATES THAT PROVIDE DOULAS FOR EXPECT TANT MOTHERS, AND YOU CAN HAVE THAT PERSON BE AN ADVOCATE WHEREVER YOU BIRTH, ESPECIALLY IN A HOSPITAL.

YOU HAVE POSTPARTUM SUPPORT.

GET THAT SET UP FOR YOURSELF THROUGH DOULAS OR FAMILY.

MAKE SURE WHEN YOU COME HOME YOU'RE STILL CENTERED IN A WAY AND HEARD.

THERE'S SO MUCH THAT CAN BE DONE.

OUR GOVERNMENT IS WORKING HARD TO PASS BILLS CALLED THE MOMMYBUS BILLS THAT WILL WORK ON THESE SOLUTIONS.

SO THERE IS SO MUCH HOPE.

THERE'S A LOT HAPPENING, AND WE HOLD THE POWER.

WE CAN DO SOMETHING AND SPEAK UP.

AND TONYA, AGAIN, WHAT CAN SOMEONE DO?

WELL, FIRST I WOULD SAY, YOU KNOW, LET'S JUST REMEMBER THAT BIRTHING IS AN AMAZING RITE OF PASSAGE THAT A BIRTHING PERSON GOES THROUGH.

SO TAKE A MOMENT AND JUST REFLECT ON THE FACT THAT THE HUMAN BODY CAN ACTUALLY PRODUCE A LIFE, REJOICE AND REVEL IN THAT, AND STAY FOCUSED ON THAT POWER.

I THINK THE KEY HERE IS THAT WE NEED WOMEN-CENTERED BIRTHING OPTIONS, AND IT REALLY COMES FROM THAT WOMAN.

SO, SHE'S THE ONE THAT'S GOING TO BE THE DRIVER OF WHAT HER BIRTH LOOKS LIKE.

SO TO WHAT PAULA WAS SAYING, REALLY DECIDE WHAT YOUR BIRTH PLAN, WHAT THE BIRTH PLAN IS FOR YOU THAT WORKS FOR YOU, AND THEN GET THE KIND OF SUPPORT AROUND YOU, WHATEVER THAT IS THAT WORKS FOR YOU AROUND YOU, SO THAT YOU CAN HAVE THE BEST BIRTH THAT YOU CAN HAVE SO THAT, LIKE OMARI WAS SAYING, YOU'RE NOT IN A SITUATION WHERE YOUR BODY DOES NOT WANT TO DILATE AND DOESN'T DO WHAT IT NEEDS TO DO BECAUSE YOU DON'T FEEL SAFE.

I THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS FOR A WOMAN TO BE IN AN ENVIRONMENT THAT FEELS SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE FOR HER.

THIS FILM DOES FOCUS LARGELY ON NEW YORK CITY.

DO WE KNOW IF THERE'S ANY LAWS OR RULES CHANGING AT LEAST WITHIN THE CITY, HOPEFULLY THE STATE, GOVERNING THINGS LIKE DOULAS AND BIRTH CENTERS, AND PEOPLE WHO CAN ADVOCATE SO A BIRTHING PLAN DOESN'T GET THROWN OUT THE WINDOW?

I THINK BRUCE IS THE BEST ONE TO ANSWER THAT ON THIS CALL.

BRUCE?

WE ARE STARTING TO SEE MORE LEGISLATION IN PLACE.

WE'RE STARTING TO SEE THAT THEY'RE DOING PAYOUTS FOR DOULAS.

I KNOW ERIC ADAMS HAD PASSED A BILL WHERE THEY'RE GOING TO ALLOW 300 DOULAS TO SERVE PEOPLE, OR TO SERVE 300 PEOPLE THROUGH DOULAS, AND WITH OUR MIDWIFERY BILL, WE GOT OUR FREE STANDING MIDWIFERY BILL PASSED OCTOBER 2022, HOWEVER IT STILL AFFECTS DISPROPORTIONATELY BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO BE RICH BEFORE YOU CAN START THE PROCESS, WHICH YOU CAN UNDERSTAND HOW THAT AFFECTS US.

AND WE ARE STARTING TO SEE MORE -- THE MOMMYBUS ACT.

YOU WANT TO GO?

AND WITH THE MOMNIBUS ACT, WE'RE HOPING TO GET THAT PASSED, BECAUSE THAT DOES HELP US OUT WHEN IT COMES TO TRYING TO CREATE OR GAIN ACCESS FOR MIDWIVES AND DOULAS.

WE ONLY HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT.

OMARI, I WANT TO GIVE YOU THE FINAL WORD.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO AN EXPECTANT MOM, PARTICULARLY ONE OF AFRICAN AMERICAN DESCENT?

BIGGEST ADVICE I WOULD GIVE IS TO DO YOUR RESEARCH.

LIKE TONYA SAID, BIRTHING IS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE.

IT'S AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYBODY INVOLVED.

YOU KNOW, BUT WE LIVE IN A DIFFERENT TIME NOW, SO UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOUR OPTIONS ARE, WHAT'S AROUND YOU, JUST BECAUSE THE HOSPITAL IS CLOSE DOESN'T MEAN IT'S BEST FOR YOU.

JUST BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, YOU MIGHT HAVE A BLACK OR BIPOC DOCTOR OR NURSE, THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT'S ALSO THE BEST EITHER.

SO ALWAYS LOOK FOR SOMETHING THAT'S THE BEST FOR YOU, ONE.

THAT'S PRIORITY.

TWO, DO YOUR RESEARCH AND MAKE SURE YOU DO HAVE A PLAN, YOU HAVE BIRTHING OPTIONS.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO GIVE BIRTH IN A HOSPITAL.

YOU CAN GIVE BIRTH AT HOME, IN A BIRTHING CENTER.

YOU CAN HAVE A WATER BIRTH.

YOU CAN HAVE A WATER BIRTH IN A HOSPITAL.

AT HOME.

THERE'S MANY THINGS YOU CAN DO.

DO YOUR RESEARCH, HAVE A PLAN.

MAKE SURE YOUR COMMUNITY KNOWS YOUR PLAN AND MAKE SURE, TOO, THAT, YOU KNOW, YOU HOLD EVERY ACCOUNTABLE.

YOU KNOW, YOURSELF, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR PARTNER AND WHOEVER'S GOING TO BE ON THE MEDICAL TEAM WITH YOU.

WITH THAT I'D LIKE THE THANK ALL OF MY GUESTS FOR JOINING ME ON THIS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT CONVERSATION.

PAULA EISELT, TONYA LEWIS LEE, OMARI MAYNARD, AND BRUCE McINTYRE, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR DELIVERING US THE FILM 'AFTERSHOCK.'

YOU CAN STREAM NOW ON HULU.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU, JENNA.

THANK YOU.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

©2023 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489