If the counting and the sonogram is correct, Beyonce will be giving birth sometime in the next month to a sweet baby girl—but even this far into her pregnancy, the superstar is working on her fifth studio album, promoting her Beyonce Live at Roseland DVD, following husband Jay-Z on his Watch the Throne tour with Kanye West, working it on the cover of Jones magazine, and putting out the word that she doesn’t intend to let her newborn slow her down.
Writer/Producer The Dream, nee Terius Nash, who worked with Beyonce on her hit, “Single Ladies” and several tracks on her latest album, 4, including MyBrownBaby favorite “Love On Top,” told AOL’s The Boombox that, creatively, Beyonce hasn’t slowed down one bit. “She’s ready to work,” Dream said. “She’s crazy! She never stops doing anything. I don’t know if [pregnancy] is going to slow her down. She’s just incredible with doing things, I don’t know how she’s going to do it, she’s just a maniac… in a good way.”
Okay, um, raise your hand if hearing this worries you just a little bit. I mean, I don’t want to knock Beyonce’s hustle—she’s a hardworking woman whose talent, coupled with an unparalleled work ethic, has made her a household name in every corner of God’s green Earth. But as a mother who carried two babies to full term and a black woman who is keenly aware of the dangerous stakes associated with African American pregnancies, I worry for Beyonce and her baby. Because being a “maniac” while pregnant can be do serious harm to black women and their newborns.
The truth of the matter is that black women are two to three times more likely than their white peers to have low-birth-weight or pre-term babies, and die during childbirth—even professional, college-educated black mothers who’ve had good prenatal care, money and education. Indeed, according to statistics cited in this Colorlines story, college- and graduate school-educated black mothers have a higher infant mortality rate than white moms who didn’t finish high school; black women who’ve gotten prenatal care in their first trimester have double the infant mortality rate of white mothers who’ve gotten the same care, and; when compared with Hispanic women who’ve gotten similar levels of prenatal care, black women still have higher rates of low birth weight, preterm deliveries and infant mortality. And now researchers are taking a serious look at how stress—the kind that comes from physically demanding jobs, lack of control in the workplace, single parenthood and financial worries, the very things that black women contend with on a daily basis—plays into this practically unexplainable stats.
Of course, Beyonce doesn’t have to contend with single parenthood and she sure isn’t worrying about money or proper prenatal healthcare, but her “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar, I Can Do It All Even With A Baby In My Belly” work ethic is worrisome because all of it—the touring with Jay-Z, the work on the fifth album, the promotional spots for her DVD, the ducking and dodging of paparazzi, the worldwide fascination with her impending birth—could very well be harmful to her and her baby. It’s great to be strong and independent and hardworking and have the whole entire world thinking you’re a “maniac” and can do it all, but is it worth it really?
I get it: while I’m in no way on Beyonce’s level in success, I wasn’t pulling any punches, either, when I was pregnant with my two girls. While pregnant with Mari, I was working full-time as an entertainment reporter at the Daily News, which meant I was running to parties, Broadway shows, movie premieres, and interviews like nobody’s business, all while doing a promotional tour for my second book, What Brothers Think, What Sistahs Know. I remember having to talk my doctor into giving me a doctor’s note so that I could take a plane to a signing in Washington, D.C.—you’re not supposed to fly after six months of pregnancy—and I spent the entire time there laid up in the bed with the flu. In my mind, I was just doing what I loved and what I needed to do to make sure my career was on point before I ducked out to have a baby. Reality was, my body—and my baby—was suffering because of my refusal to slow down.
I wasn’t much better when I was pregnant with Lila. By then, I was a magazine editor at Honey, working long hours, caring for a two-year-old, writing books in the middle of the night and traveling the country promoting Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, the first novel I co-authored with Nick. I remember being at the podium giving a speech somewhere—Indiana? Tennessee? Idaho?—and getting so dizzy I almost fainted. One of the organizers saw me swoon and literally made me sit down.
We’d been so many places while I was pregnant with my two babies that people thought it was weird when I did a book tour without a baby in my belly. I used to laugh at this, but now I know: what a dangerous position I put myself and my babies in. Both of them were born healthy and full-term—thank God—but they were low birth weight babies. We escaped a slew of pregnancy and birth problems, but surely, our story could have been tragically different. I know now that I should have focused on my health and my babies first. As much as we African American women all want to pretend like pregnancy shouldn’t have any affect on our work, productivity and superhuman ability to carry the world on our shoulders, the fact of the matter is that it is not easy to carry a human being in our bodies; pregnancy changes things for us—mentally, emotionally and especially physically—and we need to honor that and ourselves by recognizing just how fragile ushering new life into this world can be.
And so I say to Beyonce as she rounds the corner into the final stretch of her pregnancy, please beauty, be careful. The moments you’ll have with your new baby after she makes her debut into this world will be sacred for sure, but right now, you must focus on and respect the journey you and your little one are making right now, today. Pack light and travel easy—for your sake. And that sweet baby’s.
1. Daddy Denied: Jay-Z Says Fatherlessness Made Him Delay Becoming A Dad
2. Tackling Infant Mortality Rates—Without Stereotyping Black Mothers
3. Erykah “Badoula” And The Business of Birthing: Can Midwifery Help Stem Black Infant Mortality Rates?
4. Congratulations Beyonce & Jay-Z: Welcome To the MyBrownBaby Crew!
5. Beyonce Showing Off Belly Bump In “Oh Baby” Video = Total Cuteness
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
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I love this post. I think sometimes African-American fall prey to the “Strong Black Woman” syndrome and think we can’t afford to slow down while we are carrying a child. This is a gentle reminder that we all should always take it easy during those critical nine months.
I think if her doctor has okayed her to travel and do all that she is doing then that is fine. There is no reason to slow down unless she needs too.
Amen!!! Thank you so much for writing this post. Everything you said is so, so true. As a prenatal yoga instructor and health advocate, I continue to learn and witness how our society has forgotten that pregnancy (and the postpartum period) is a sacred time, and self-care for moms-to-be is of utmost importance.
I’m with Denene.
I have no idea whether Beyonce travels with a doctor or has her blessing. I’m not even sure if she’s done all of this work while in her third trimester. All I know is those stats are real. Be careful, Bey. Can’t wait to hear you’ve had your baby girl.
ok point taken. ur making gud points and i can see why shes doing it too! we all wanna be “strong” and show that we “can do it all”… without realising that fighting nature is just plain dangerous and
I agree, she needs to take it easy and slow down. I was on bed rest during my last pregnancy and could barely walk two feet during my other pregnancies before I would end up in doctor office. Women that are active during pregnancy are amazing to me!
I totally agree with the views in this article. Yes Beyonce is a superwoman and can do all things. That’s great, but I think time should be given to enjoying THIS moment. This pregnancy will only come around once. Enjoy the powerful, beautiful wonder of creating and nurturing the life within. The career will be there when its over.
I agree with you, Denene. We had our first baby while I was a junior in college. Though I knew I was carrying the girl I always wanted, I convinced myself and everyone else giving me the side eye (and I was married, but we were very young) that I would not let having a baby keep me from getting my degree and going after my dreams. So it was an endless and focused “gotta graduate, gotta save more cash, let me see if I can get some overtime, gotta hit the books hard tonight, gotta get up in time for class, gotta graduate, gotta get those two hours of overtime up for grabs, got.to.GRADUATE!…”
I remember having one of those fainting spells too. I was 7 months, and I was trying to hurry and get to the restroom so I could fall on the floor–or whatever my body needed to do–without any of my co-workers being alarmed. I’ll never forget that. It was during overtime.
Thank you so much for this article! I am a 38-year-old professor having my first child. I have always worked hard and didn’t think pregnancy would change that. I was even offended when my supervisor gave a duty to my colleague that I thought should be mine after she found out I was pregnant. One of my colleagues told me she had miscarried at 4 months, so I need to slow down. I always assumed because I am middle class, educated, and well-nourished that I would not have to worry about infant mortality. The statistics truly opened my eyes. I appreciate your words of wisdom, Denene!