This Small Minneapolis Birth Center Is Setting an Example for Every U.S. Hospital


The state of Minnesota has only one practicing midwife who identifies as black, according to this article in the Guardian. This isn’t just a statistic. Structural racism and implicit bias are real across the entire medical profession in the U.S., and they’re having a profound impact on the health, survival and childbirth experience of women of color. Even though structural racism in U.S. hospitals is an issue that’s gotten more press over the past few years, it’s still nowhere near getting addressed head-on. Black women in the U.S. are still three times as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as white women, and according to the Guardian, “African American babies in Minnesota are twice as likely as white babies to die in their first year.” That risk goes up, even if slightly, for women over 35.

Why are black women more at risk? Studies show that a significant factor is the lifetime of racist and culturally insensitive treatment, both overt and subtle, they’ve received from doctors, nurses and medical staff. Outright medical neglect, along with the physical and emotional damage caused by years of implicit bias at the doctor’s office, has life or death consequences, and it’s contributing to the higher than average maternal mortality rate for black women. We already know that around the world, the more personally attentive treatment that midwives offer is correlated to healthier pregnancies and birth outcomes. But here in the U.S., midwives aren’t always treated with respect by obstetricians and the medical profession, and we’re seeing the results of this in the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developing world.

At Roots Community Birth Center in Minneapolis, founding midwife Rebecca Polston is giving black women and all women who seek her help the chance to experience a more attentive, respectful, culturally attuned pregnancy and childbirth. And according to the Guardian, the center is showing results. Roots Community had zero preterm births for its African American women clients in 2017, and only a 3 percent rate of first-time Caesareans.

With any luck, the positive media attention around Roots Community Birth Center will lead more centers like it to start opening around the U.S., and more midwives like Poulston—and doulas like Brooklyn’s Tia Dowling-Ketant—to have the chance to give women the personalized childbirth experience that can save lives.

Read more about Tia here, and about Polston in this inspiring Guardian photo essay.

Photo above by Alekon pictures on Unsplash.

Fertility Ed: Does It Stand a Chance?

Fertility Ed: Does It Stand a Chance?

We’ve said it before but here we go again: Women and men know surprisingly little about how our bodies work, procreatively speaking, beyond the basics. Along the way we tend to pick up a few more clues than we got in our first awkward parent or sibling-led convo about the birds and bees . But not that many more clues.

Unless we’re medical professionals or biologists, chances are we’re out of luck.

As one study pointed out, less than half of American women and even fewer men who recently graduated from college have any concept of when fertility might start to decline. Shocking? Yes. It should be.

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We Say Yes to Meghan Markle's Non-Postpartum Pic

Someone had to put a stop to the insane post-baby glam shot, and it obviously wasn’t going to be Kate Middleton. We’re not taking sides in the supposed Meghan vs Kate divide (we frankly don’t care that much about the Royals, recent evidence to the contrary), but we’re fully down with Meghan’s decision not to get herself all done up for a photo shoot, minutes after sending a screaming human shooting out of her body.

Kate’s always-flawless I-was-born-that-way-I-woke-up-that-way look is terrific for her and for her prince (see baby Prince George pic above), but it sucks for nearly every other woman on Earth.

Was Meghan influenced by Chelsea Hirschorn, CEO of Fridababy, who wrote a public plea via an ad in the New York Times to convince her not to pose immediately post-baby?

“Sure, it’s possible to have a hair and makeup SWAT team come in and work their magic to conceal the realities of what just happened, but is that really what we want women focused on in those first few hours postpartum?” Hirschorn asked. “Why doesn’t she get rolled out in a wheelchair sitting on a throne of ice as the rest of us?”

Did Meghan feel swayed by Keira Knightley’s criticism of Princess Kate’s ready-for-primetime postpartum photo shoots? “Hide our pain, our bodies splitting…Look beautiful. Look stylish, don’t show your battleground, Kate,” she wrote sarcastically to the Duchess of Windsor, as quoted in InStyle.

Who knows why Meghan did what she did (or didn’t do it) after baby Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor popped out? Whatever the reason, count us in and score one for Meg.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via Gov.UK.

Listen Up: Our Newly Updated Doctor Recs for Older Moms-to-Be


We’ve been keeping our ears open for enthusiastic referrals to OB-GYNs, reproductive endocrinologists, fertility clinics and other women’s health and reproductive specialists who are especially supportive of the “advanced maternal age” set. As we all know, a skilled doctor who actually listens, supports our parenting and health goals, keeps us in the loop, and cheers us on when we need it is priceless. Those doctors are everywhere, but also pretty hard to find!

The strongest recommendations we’ve heard so far are listed right here. The list definitely has more doctors in the NYC area than elsewhere. Please help us adjust the balance!

Many thanks to those of you who’ve written us with your referrals. Keep them coming!

Photo by Alireza Attari via Unsplash.

Brigitte Nielsen: Keeping It Real and Rocking On As a 55-Year-Old New Mom

Brigitte Nielsen: Keeping It Real and Rocking On As a 55-Year-Old New Mom

File under: The media hasn’t had an OMG-she’s-so-old celebrity pregnancy story in a while, so it’s time to make one up! This installment is courtesy of, where someone apparently decided it was time to stick a fork in 55-year-old new mom Brigitte Nielsen and see if she’s done.

And? Brigitte Nielsen is emphatically not done. She sounds like she’s killing it, loving life as a new (again) mom, after raising four now-adult children decades ago. Her new baby Frida, the first daughter she’s had, is now seven months old, and sounds like she’s thriving. Nielsen bounced back from this pregnancy after just two and a half weeks—about a fraction of what it’s taken most other moms we know, in their 20s, 30s or anytime.

As quoted in this (surprisingly upbeat!) piece, Nielsen is grateful for the chance to be a mom in her 50s—with 25-year-old husband Mattia Dessi–and she isn’t taking a bit of it for granted. She’s keeping it real …

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Meghan Markle Pregnancy Coverage Officially Jumps the Shark

Meghan Markle Pregnancy Coverage Officially Jumps the Shark

Meghan Markle’s pregnancy announcement this fall turned the celebrity media into a wiggly jello mold of glee: Oh look, another over-35 celeb we can cheer (read: rip to shreds) for having a baby late—even before she announces any such thing! And she’s a royal, no less! Story after story after trumped-up nonsense after faux-adulation after story later, there’s apparently nothing left to report, diagnose, cross-examine or fret over until Markle actually goes ahead and has the friggin’ baby, already.

So now what? Oh wait, there’s this! Comparing Meghan’s “pregnancy body language” with her sister-in-law and fellow royal scrutinee Kate Middleton’s. Pregnancy body language? Yeah, apparently that’s a thing.

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5 Annoying Birthday Party Traditions You Can Ditch

5 Annoying Birthday Party Traditions You Can Ditch

Does throwing your kid a birthday party need to give you a migraine? Can’t you just get some friends together, sing happy birthday, eat cake, and call it a day? You can. Here’s what to skip from now on:

1. Buying Fancy Birthday Cakes

Consider this your get-out-of-jail-free pass: Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on your kid’s birthday cake. No one will care if you do. They’ll care for exactly 30 seconds, as long as it takes to ogle the cake before it vanishes into everyone’s jaw. Kids will eat it because it’s a cake, whether you paid $500 for a custom cake from a fancy bakery or $29.99 for a sheet cake at the supermarket. If parents are at the party, most of them will ask for “a sliver” anyway and will barely notice if it’s a fancy sliver or a sheet-cake sliver. Ok, they’d be happier eating a real baked cake, but their chief concern is surviving the party small-talk and keeping their kid from accidentally killing anyone. Save the cake-ordering headache, save money, save energy for what really matters: Making it through the party without getting (visibly) drunk on all the wine you’ve stocked for the party. Because parents who show up want that wine way more than they want cake.

2. Writing Personalized Thank You Notes

It’s sweet to get a thank you note. People like it. I like getting thank you notes, and I even like writing them, in theory. But when you’re staring at a pile of unwritten cards after a party, it’s not awesome. It takes me weeks, months, to attack the pile, and the whole time I’m asking myself why I suck so much and haven’t written the damn notes yet. Last year after a party for my son’s classmate, his mom mass-emailed the guest list

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Chicken Little Was Right: The New UN Climate Report Is Terrifying

Chicken Little Was Right: The New UN Climate Report Is Terrifying

“The sky is falling. The sky is falling!”

Chicken Little was right all along: The sky IS falling. The latest UN report on climate change predicts a Walking Dead scenario—wildfires everywhere, mass starvation, wildlife in collapse— as early as 2040. Not at some abstract point in the future, as many of us who’ve been terrified about climate change have let ourselves believe.

2040. That’s pretty much tomorrow. A physicist and climate scientist named Bill Hare, quoted in the New York Times article about the report, summed it up best: This, he said, is “quite a shock.”

You’ve probably already done the math about how old you’ll be—and how old your kids will be—by 2040. If you’re like me, you’re ready to sign a lease for a cozy little condo on the moon, because our planet will be toast before we hit retirement age. If we take political action immediately, i.e. in the next 10-12 years max, to massively cut carbon emissions, we may delay the inevitable by a bit. But needless to say, action won’t happen under the current U.S. administration.

Yesterday I saw this post from a mom on a Brooklyn parents’ email listserv:

“I’m sure many of you read the troubling report that states we have 12 years left to act in order to avoid catastrophe. What do we do? I’m new to this level of activism but I want my kids to have habitable planet.”

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Crappy Children's Books: A New Crunch Time Parents Video Series

Michael Chabon’s Awesome Man is….not so awesome.

Michael Chabon’s Awesome Man is….not so awesome.

Why this series? Because we’re reading a lot of kids’ books lately, sometimes to our own kids (currently 3 and 5 years old), and sometimes to other people’s kids. Or we’re browsing in the children’s section at the bookstore or library, and we come across a book that makes us go: “No.” And: “How did this ever make it to print?” Sometimes the reason is simple: The author is already famous and now gets to publish pretty much whatever he/she wants.

Without further ado, here’s the first installment in our series, Today in Crappy Children’s Books, in which we (i.e. my husband) will take a look at The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon. Check it out on Crunch Time Parents’ Facebook page , and please Like the page for updates on upcoming videos.

A Brooklyn Doula Shares Tips on IVF, "Natural" Birth, and What to Do When Doctors Won't Listen

A Brooklyn Doula Shares Tips on IVF, "Natural" Birth, and What to Do When Doctors Won't Listen

“Deliveries are for pizzas, births are for babies,” Tia Dowling-Ketant told me when we sat down to chat and caffeinate one late-summer morning in Brooklyn. It was one of the dozens of quotable moments that stuck with me from the hour I got to spend with Tia, hearing about her work as a doula with a mix of clients ranging from low-income pregnant women in underserved neighborhoods, to affluent women looking for an experienced doula who knows the ropes, to couples of all backgrounds coping with infertility.

Hiring a doula can be expensive, but more and more community-based organizations like By My Side Doula Support—which Tia works with in Brooklyn—are helping lower-income women access the kind of care that usually only wealthier families can afford. This is especially crucial in neighborhoods with higher-than-average rates of maternal complications and mortality. Doulas are making a huge difference, and the data backs it up: “One-to-one emotional, physical and educational support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor,” the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said in a recent report.

Tia spoke to Crunch Time Parents about why she switched careers to do this tough and life-changing work, and gave tips on how women can become our own vocal advocates before, during and after pregnancy. And because Tia is also a fertility doula who experienced infertility before she went through IVF and gave birth to her son, she shared insights for anyone on a similar path.

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Adam Ruins Everything's Video About Fertility After 35 Is a Must-Watch

Adam ruins everything. Except when he's delivering a badly needed dose of reality on an issue we've been misled about for years, decades, actually centuries. Like: how rapidly a woman's fertility declines after age 35. How rapidly? Not as much as we've been led to believe. 

We won't ruin the video for you if you haven't seen it already. It's one of the best in "investigative comedian" Adam Conover's all-encompassing Adam Ruins Everything video series. Just a couple of things:

1) "An average woman, age 27, who is healthy has an 86 percent chance of getting pregnant within a year," says researcher Jean Twenge in the video. At age 37, the chance of the same woman getting pregnant in a year dips slightly down to 82 percent. "That's barely a difference!" says the puzzled guy in the video. Exactly.

2) The fertility data most women hear about, i.e. that it becomes much harder to become pregnant after 35, is based on 17th century French studies. Again, thanks to Jean Twenge for uncovering the outdated info that's been freaking women out for much too long.

Caveat: Pregnancy later in life does carry some risks, but again the risks are often over-stated and taken out of context. Also: The pros and cons of egg-freezing are more complex than this video lets on. Egg-freezing does create a reassuring plan B (or C) for women who are willing to spend the money and take their chances, and many women argue that the increased confidence it creates is priceless. Like we said, it's complicated. 

That said, we're happy this video exists. Please watch, share, and discuss.  

Let's Stop Fat-Shaming Pregnant Women (Oh, and Age-Shaming Too)

Let's Stop Fat-Shaming Pregnant Women (Oh, and Age-Shaming Too)

A Huffington Post article this week makes the long-overdue case that doctors need to stop fat-shaming pregnant women who suffer from obesity or are simply overweight. In a nutshell:

"The reality is that the vast majority of overweight and obese women have perfectly normal pregnancies. But medical professionals are not immune to society’s tendency to disrespect fat people," as Brianna Snyder writes in the HuffPo article, titled "Fat-Shaming the Pregnant: How the Medical Community Fails Overweight Moms."

What does that disrespect look and sound like? Bullying women into believing that they'll be required to have a C-section if they don't lose weight. Frightening plus-size women into thinking they're risking their lives just by becoming pregnant. Asking them to abort the baby, lose weight, then get pregnant again. The horrors go on.

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