Joshua Jackson is opening up about his and wife Jodie Turner-Smith’s choice to have a home birth. And as it turns out, the decision was in part because of the pandemic, but also because of systemic racism and the horrible track record U.S. hospitals have with Black women in labour (and the health care system in general).
In an interview with Esquire to promote his new Peacock series, Dr. Death, Jackson spoke at length about the medical profession (to which he’s no stranger given that his brother is an ER doctor in Manhattan), and how the institutions are, “Not actually built for patient outcome.” That really hit home for the actor in April 2020 though, when he became a father.
“The American medical system has a horrendous track record with Black women,” he told the publication, noting that at the time many hospitals refused to allow partners to stay as women gave birth for fear of spreading COVID-19. That added an extra layer of unease as Turner-Smith approached her baby girl’s due date.
“She wanted to be in a place where she was as comfortable as possible, understandably,” Jackson recalled. “And I wanted her to be in a place where she felt like she was being heard at every step along the way, rather than having to go through that filter of being a Black woman interfacing with the American medical system.”
In the U.S., Black women are three times more likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth or immediately postpartum than white women. According to the CDC, Black women have the highest pregnancy-related deaths of any demographic, while other research shows Black, Hispanic and Asian women are more likely to experience adverse outcomes during labour than white women.
It’s unclear how those numbers stack up in Canada, where a lack of important race-based data and the protection of privacy have contributed to murkier statistics. Without such information, professionals are unable to identify and address troubling discrepancies in patient care.
“[Labour] is lonely at times,” Jackson added in the Esquire article. “And scary at times, and also transcendental and beautiful, and you want to have your partner there. I’m grateful for every second I got to be a part of bringing our daughter into this world. It’s a magical experience—we don’t talk enough about the positives.”
Turner-Smith gave birth to a baby girl on April 21, 2020. Following the home-birth experience, during which she was in labour for four days, the actor and model reflected about the birthing journey in an essay for British Vogue.
“Early in the morning on my third day of labour, my husband and I shared a quiet moment. 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,” she wrote.
“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.”
Jackson and Smith met in 2018. At the time, they had what Jackson now refers to as a “three-night stand.” Last week he told Insider that it was all, “Sealed with a kiss that night and then we didn't leave each other's sides for, well, three years now.”
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