During my pregnancy with my first daughter, I spent hours online reading articles and watching YouTube videos preparing for the journey ahead. After each search term I mindlessly added “Black woman” or “for Black people/families”. The results were few and far in between with my racial preference often being refined to only a select few results or disregarded altogether. Thankfully I had a midwife to lean on, but as an avid reader and researcher I longed for a book, for the book to have in my arsenal.
Well, sis. I have some news for you. This is it. Shanicia Boswell is the creator of Black Moms Blog, an online platform that centers culture, parenting, and lifestyle for Black mamas. She’s also the author of Oh Sis, You’re Pregnant!: The Ultimate Guide to Black Pregnancy & Motherhood. I’ve followed Black Moms Blog for quite some time and was overjoyed when I found out Ms. Boswell was writing the pregnancy book to end all pregnancy books. Black birthing people have a unique experience with maternal health and these mainstream pregnancy guides are often tone deaf and unconcerned with what we find important. As Black moms-to-be are often thinking about Breastfeeding and cultural norms, postpartum hair care and the looming reality of the Black women’s maternal mortality rate, we were long overdue for a book that presented us with a holistic view of what to expect and how to get through it.
Released on March 16, 2021, this book has already received rave reviews from new and expecting moms but some of you may still be wondering: “What’s so great about this book?”
Let’s get into it.
In 23 chapters, Shanicia gives the ultimate pregnancy rundown for Black moms-to-be. It’s written in a comforting, fun-loving tone, like chatting with your home girl who knows everything you need to hear about what’s to come and leads with love instead of her personal horror stories about morning sickness and baby daddy bullshit.
Shanicia kicks off chapter one with a personal story, sharing how her pregnancy at 22-years-old was accompanied by shame and disbelief despite her being an adult. I threw my hands up when reading this part because I was in the exact same position with my first baby girl: 22. fresh outta college. unmarried. excited for my baby but forced into shame by those who didn’t ‘agree’ with the decision I’d made for my life. In reading this part, I felt seen. Even though I knew several young mothers whose story so easily mirrored my own, Shanicia’s ability to connect with the reader by laying it all on the table was unlike any of the conversations I’d had before. I scribbled in the margins, “lol I am her. She is me.” Thank God this was not another pretentious pregnancy memoir masked as “advice”.
Shanicia reminds (or even teaches) us about all the things that we (should’ve) learned in high school sex education. You know, the “birds and bees” talk. But as another necessary reminder (or another teaching moment), she vividly describes that pregnancy isn’t a uniform experience and sex/conception isn’t… one size fits all. Some Black folks need assistance with becoming pregnant, and whether this is by a “formal” IVF process or the ‘unconventional’ turkey basting, readers are no longer in the dark about the various methods some parents must take to start having their babies. We’ve all been taught that “sex makes babies”, but for some- the process isn’t that simple and the legitimacy of their journey to parenthood should never be downplayed or compromised.
A lot of the book’s most important information comes from the conversations with various specialists/experts in different areas of maternal healthcare. Chapters two, four, six, eighteen and twenty-one are dedicated to conversations with a doctor, doula, midwife, lactation consultant and nutritionist to make sure we’re getting all the right information. Meanwhile, Chapter 14 is a conversation on fatherhood with musical artist Anthony Hamilton.
I appreciated that Oh Sis! wasn’t written solely for the late 20s, early 30s, married mother-to-be doing life “the right way,” inadvertently forcing so many of us to search for pieces of information and reflection in between the lines. Oh Sis! is for the 16-year-old teen mom-to-be who is still figuring out the contours of her body as she prepares to birth a child. It’s for the 23-year-old college graduate figuring out her next move as her baby girl takes her first steps. It’s for single moms. For the expecting college professor, afraid of what pregnancy means for her tenure track position. For the married mamas. The queer mamas and parents. The low-income folks. The entrepreneur mamas. For all Black mamas.
Not only does Oh Sis! give insight into the journey of pregnancy but Shanicia also provides a necessary relief by celebrating the beauty of Black pregnancy and parenthood. If you’re wondering how to choose a prenatal vitamin and or postpartum hairstyle, this book lovingly gives you all that you need to get started.
As Oh Sis! propels from a “new release” into a classic, I encourage every Black person reading this article to check out this book. This platform of mine isn’t only for new/young moms but also for those thinking about having kiddos, for those fighting baby fever and for the seasoned mamas who scour the web reminiscing on days when their children were small.
To Shanicia, thank you. Not only for graciously sharing this book with me and my family but for penning this for all Black mamas. Your work is necessary and appreciated.
Order Oh Sis, You’re Pregnant!” The Ultimate Guide To Black Pregnancy and Motherhood here.