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Kerry Pieri

As an author, brand consultant, and the former digital fashion and features director at Harper’s BAZAAR, Kerry Pieri has written about a lot of things. But the subject she’s perhaps most passionate about is maternal health. It’s also something she knows about firsthand: her daughter, Lila, was breech, and Pieri is eager to share the lessons she learned from her experience to help other moms with theirs.
by Sollis Health

Can you describe how you felt about your health during your pregnancy and giving birth?

I felt really great during pregnancy. After being very tired my first trimester I had a lot of energy. I was still running around as the fashion director of Harper’s BAZAAR digital all day and managing to do light workouts, take baths, and eat well. I’m well aware that if I had a second it wouldn’t be the same!

What were some positive things about the care that you received?

I found an OBGYN who was like-minded in terms of a more holistic approach to pregnancy and birth. She even let me eat organic jelly beans instead of that terrible liquid for my gestational diabetes test. Thankfully I was negative!

What do you wish you’d known before giving birth?

By the end of my pregnancy it became clear that Lila (my baby girl) was breech. I didn’t know that it’s nearly impossible to have a vaginal breech birth in New York State due to insurance laws. You can in other states like New Jersey, but alas a natural birth in NYC was not in my future. I spent weeks at acupuncturists trying to turn her but no luck. I had my heart set on a natural birth so I was disappointed.

What kind of advice do you give to new moms?

I think it’s important to be clear about your goals for the birth process, knowing that there are many factors that will be beyond your control. But your doctor is your doctor and once the baby is out, that doctor has little say in what goes on at the hospital with your baby. I was surprised when the hospital didn’t want me to keep Lila with me all night and they wanted to bathe her right away. I managed to keep Lila with me in my room, but it felt adversarial which is the last thing I wanted.

“The disregard for mothers' natural instincts about their own bodies and medical professionals ignoring signs and women's own complaints is offensive at best and dangerous at worst.”

How do you feel about how new moms are treated in America?

The stories of birthing in America are often horrifying, especially for women of color, and Black women in particular. The disregard for mothers’ natural instincts about their own bodies and medical professionals ignoring signs and women’s own complaints is offensive at best and dangerous at worst. We’ve strayed very far from the natural process of birthing. Even the position of laying flat in a bed is not ideal for giving birth and yet it’s the norm. So much needs to change in my opinion. America’s already abysmal maternal death rate has increased by nearly 37% since 2018, so things are getting worse not better.

Why do you think it’s particularly important to advocate for them?

Because it’s literally a life or death situation. Black women face the biggest threat. There is already medical racism and it is only worse in the birthing room. Women are so vulnerable and hand their lives and their baby’s lives over to medical professionals, and sadly women’s trust in them is often misplaced.

When someone asks you: How can I help? What do you tell them/what kind of resources do you share?

I would say to read books on natural birth even if it’s ultimately not what you decide to opt for, because knowing what a natural birth can look like can be very informative in any type of birth. Ask women you know and trust for recommendations of doctors, doulas, and midwives in your area. And trust yourself and your body. No one knows you better than you do.

“It's literally a life or death situation. Black women face the biggest threat. There is already medical racism and it is only worse in the birthing room. Women hand their lives and their baby's lives over to medical professionals, and sadly our trust in them is often misplaced.”

What gap do you see Sollis filling in the emergency medical system as it relates to birthing?

There are many emergencies and complications that occur postpartum: infections, retained products, bleeding. Emergency departments are flooded with these cases, and the care women receive in ERs is often incomplete or really rushed. At Sollis, the providers have the time to not only address the medical issue at hand but engage in patient education and follow up care, which is critical for the long term health of the mothers.

What are some things you learned about yourself in the early days of being a new mom?

That women’s bodies are just amazing. That we are more animal-like than we often think hah! And that there’s no one way to do this and everyone has to take their own path.

What does it mean to be a “fashion mom”?

I reread an article I wrote about being a new mom for and I said that getting dressed up again after giving birth and trying to look my best wasn’t about putting on a show, it was about re-finding my identity. I still think that’s so true. If you’re someone who feels most themselves in great fabrics and interesting cuts then getting back to those things is part of establishing this new-mom-you, a person that is entirely novel but carries a bit of her old self with her.

In what ways has your perspective changed on motherhood since the day you gave birth?

I just think that being a mother to a baby versus a mother to a child is so different in many ways. You need to be so present with a baby, but your consciousness with a toddler and beyond is a whole other level. It’s so cool to get to know this funny, smart, cool little girl. But in some ways snuggling and taking walks and nursing was easier!

Words to live by?

To thine own self be true. In other words, you got this mama, trust yourself. Which doesn’t mean to never ask for help!

The views and opinions expressed in this campaign are those of the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sollis Health.
Sollis Health is a 24/7 doctor, private ER and concierge service rolled into one. Whether it’s an emergency or simply to diagnose the symptoms that you typically Google in the middle of the night, our emergency-trained doctors are ready for anything. Interested in becoming a Sollis member?