Since giving birth to a daughter named Janie in April 2020, Queen & Slim star Jodie Turner-Smith has been enjoying every moment of motherhood. In the September issue of British Vogue, the actress reflected on her experience with childbirth in a powerful essay.
“Every stage of my pregnancy brought its own challenges and lessons,” the 33-year-old told the magazine. “Nobody really teaches you about what your body goes through to bring a child into the world until you’re actually doing it.”
During the first trimester of her pregnancy, Turner-Smith says she was shooting an action movie called Without Remorse while also making public appearances to promote Queen & Slim. All the while, she soldiered on while having symptoms of nausea and fatigue.
She says she was adamant about not delivering her baby in a hospital because of Black maternal health disparities. “We had already 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,” she said.
Her decision to give birth at home ended up being beneficial not only to ensure the safety of herself and child, but also allowed her husband to be present for the birth as the COVID-19 pandemic caused restrictions on who could be present in hospital delivery rooms. “Delivering at home ensured that I had what every single woman deserves to have: full agency in determining my birth support.”
When it comes to giving birth, she credits her husband, actor Joshua Jackson, with sticking by her side through every moment – particularly during her home birth which lasted four days. “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. 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.”
Turner-Smith and Jackson haven’t yet shared any photos of their four-month-old daughter, but the actress often considers how she’ll explain the year 2020 to her someday.
“Sometimes I wonder how I will explain to my daughter what it meant to be born in the year 2020,” she says. The historic events, the social unrest, and me — a new mother just trying to do her best,” she said. “I think I will tell her that it was as if the world had paused for her to be born. And that, hopefully it never quite returned to the way it was before.”