Navigating Pregnancy While Black

Navigating Pregnancy While Black

Facing a pregnancy as a Black woman can be filled with uncertainties, anxieties, and fears. In New York City and around the country, many of those uncertainties have only been elevated in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and protests against racial injustice. However, there are steps you can take right now to ensure that your voice is heard, your needs are met, and your dignity is honored. You and your baby matter. Read on to learn about your risks and how to combat them.

The Risks

If you are Black and pregnant, you are at a higher risk for complications during your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum recovery. In the United States, a Black woman is 3 times more likely than a white woman and almost 4 times most likely than a Hispanic woman to die from pregnancy-related complications. Because of systemic inequality for black Americans and “unconscious biases that are embedded in the medical system,” Black women are more likely to be left untreated for complications such as hypertension and blood clots. Research has found that it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, have a college degree or not: Black women are still dying at an alarming rate for a medically-advanced country like the U.S. 

There is Hope.

Though nearly 700 women died in childbirth in 2018, the chances of mortality are still relatively low when you consider that millions of babies are born in the U.S. each year. The likelihood of facing a prenatal or postpartum complication is further reduced when you seek prenatal care early in your pregnancy and surround yourself with a group of trusted friends and health professionals who will help advocate for your needs.

Know Your Rights

  • You have the right to receive quality health care from an OB/Gyn that you trust. Your care team might also include a midwife or doula who will check in with you throughout the pregnancy and be at your side for labor and delivery. They are professionals who are trained to help you feel comfortable, supported, and focused during the birth. You can discuss your needs and expectations ahead of time so that everyone in the delivery room will be on the same page. These health care professionals can also work with you throughout your postpartum recovery to ensure that all your concerns are being addressed. The National Black Doulas Association has a state-by-state directory to help you find a licensed Black doula in your area.
  • You have the right to deliver at a hospital where you will receive high-quality care. ExpectNY is a website dedicated to providing important information about hospitals in the New York City area. You can research hospitals near you and learn about the safety measures and success rates of each facility. You can also use a resource like Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Grade website to check the rating of your chosen hospital or compare multiple hospitals in your area.
  • If you are employed in New York State, an employer cannot legally fire you for becoming pregnant. You also have the right to maternity leave when you give birth. Time off from work after a pregnancy and delivery is important. You deserve rest, recovery, and the opportunity to bond with your baby.

Safety in Birthing

Doula, birth advocate, and owner of The Starting Place, Ashley Causey-Golden, suggests taking the following steps when you are planning for your labor and delivery:

Create Your Birth Plan

  • Taking even a few minutes to write out what you want or don’t want from your birthing experience can help you advocate for your needs as you talk with your health care team. Share this birth plan with your care team and loved ones so everyone is on the same page.

Know What You Want from Your Hospital

  • Maybe you know you want to avoid things like a C-section, an episiotomy, or an induction. Likewise, you may want to explore options like an epidural or unmedicated birth. Know what your hospital will or will not provide ahead of time by using ExpectNY to research the data from your chosen birth facility.

Trust Your Body

  • Causey-Golden also encourages her clients to practice meditation and self-care throughout their pregnancy as they prepare for labor and delivery. “Sitting still and tuning into your body can help you build resiliency against fear or the uncertainty surrounding birth,” she explains. “Being in touch with your body can help you build the confidence to vocalize your needs.” She suggests using meditation apps like Calm or The Mindfulness App and dedicating specified times to tune into your body.

Talk to Someone

Having someone by your side to help advocate for you is essential to a happy and healthy pregnancy. Whether it is a partner, friend, family member, birth worker, or medical professional, it is important to have a person you trust to walk alongside you. The Family Institute at Northwestern emphasizes the importance of mental health counseling for Black expectant women and new moms. You can find a wealth of Black birthing resources in this article on their site, including a checklist that helps you recognize signs that mental health care may be needed.

Avail NYC exists to be a safe place where women facing an unexpected pregnancy can process their feelings and make a plan to move forward with confidence. If you are pregnant or suspect you might be pregnant, and want to discuss your options in a confidential setting, Avail is here to listen to you. We provide emotional support and a network of resources so you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Additionally, we can offer a referral to an OB/Gyn for comprehensive prenatal medical care for clients with or without health insurance.


To protect our clients and staff during the outbreak of COVID-19, all appointments are being conducted online. If you are in need of a pregnancy test, we can send one to your home, free of charge. We know this is a challenging time, especially if you are facing the uncertainty of an unexpected pregnancy. Click the Make an Appointment button to schedule a call with a compassionate client advocate today.

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.

Additional information retrieved from “Navigating the Birthing World While Black,” a presentation by Ashley Causey-Golden. www.birthingandbeyond.org. 19 February 2019.

Planned Pregnancy, COVID-19, and Considering Abortion

Planned Pregnancy, COVID-19, and Considering Abortion

You were looking forward to growing your family. You planned, and your positive pregnancy test brought a rush of excitement and anticipation for your new future. Then COVID-19 happened.

Suddenly, the future you envisioned has been replaced with uncertainty. The world that once felt safe to bring a child into now holds all that accompanies COVID-19; fear, job loss, and insurance loss. Reminders that much has changed are everywhere, from the constant news updates to seeing masks and barriers at the grocery store. For the first time, you’re navigating shelter-in-place orders, quarantines, social distancing, and shut-downs.

Perhaps your pregnancy excitement has turned to fear and trepidation, you’re wondering if this is the right time to be pregnant after all, and you’re considering abortion for your planned pregnancy.

Your Feelings Are Valid

We often think that parenting begins once our child is born, but your feelings reveal that it more likely starts once you know you’re pregnant. It’s natural to want to protect this planned pregnancy, which is why you’re asking yourself important questions. What if I (or my partner) get COVID-19? Will COVID-19 cause birth defects or other problems with pregnancy? How can I financially care for a child amidst a pandemic?

You never imagined you would be in the position of considering abortion for your planned pregnancy, but know that the questions and uncertainty you’re feeling are valid. This is a scary time to be pregnant, and many couples are experiencing the same doubts and fears about bringing a baby into this changing world.

There is good news. COVID-19 is temporary, and support is available to guide you through your questions and provide you tangible help to get through this time.

COVID-19 and Pregnancy

All couples who are expecting ask how COVID-19 will affect the pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that COVID-19 does not appear to cause harm to the unborn or nursing babies. The virus hasn’t been detected in amniotic fluid or breastmilk, even if the mother has become ill.

The CDC also reports, “pregnant people appear to have the same risk of COVID-19 as adults who are not pregnant.” Research indicates that if a pregnant woman does contract the virus while she’s pregnant, she isn’t at greater risk than any other adult who gets it. There doesn’t appear to be a higher risk of miscarriage or birth defects, either.

Despite the positives, the CDC recommends that pregnant women take precautions to protect themselves from illnesses since they may be at increased risk for some infections.

Financial Strain and Pregnancy

Do you feel like you suddenly lack resources to build your family? Has your financial situation considerably changed since you planned your pregnancy, causing you to consider abortion? You’re not alone. There is a tremendous amount of relief and financial resources available to you, ranging from food to rent relief and everything in-between.

Help Is Available

Our compassionate client advocates at Avail are here for you to listen to your concerns and fears without judgment. We understand the questions that come along with pregnancy, COVID-19, and considering abortion for a planned pregnancy.

We can meet with you (and your partner, if desired) remotely from the safety of your home to discuss your options so that you can move forward with confidence. Our advocates will listen to your needs and point you to the resources that are best for your situation. Contact us today for an appointment.

I Can’t Be Pregnant Right Now: What Are My Options?

I Can’t Be Pregnant Right Now: What Are My Options?

“I was supposed to get my period last week, but it didn’t come. I shrugged it off thinking it was late because that stuff happens, right? But it’s now been over a week and I’m really starting to freak out. I can’t be pregnant right now!”

When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, varied thoughts may be racing through your mind, along with what to do, how to tell those closest to you, and how this might impact your future.

Shock, anger, denial, despair, panic and hopelessness are only some of the emotions that can go along with an unplanned pregnancy. While it might seem you have little to no choice, there are more options than you might realize.

Avail NYC is here for you. We empathize, and our team of experienced and compassionate client advocates is here to help you on this journey. Our free pregnancy services—like a self-administered pregnancy test and referral to receive a free ultrasound—can confirm any of your suspicions. We also offer information and guidance so you can make the best decision for your future with all of the facts in your pocket.

Breathe. You Have Choices.

No matter what anyone might say, you can—and should—take a few minutes to yourself. Sit down in a comfortable place, somewhere you feel safe, and just breathe. Yes, you have some choices to make, and no, they are probably not going to be easy, but you need to make them according to what is best for you. You have plenty of time to calm and center yourself.

When you’re ready, give us a call or setup a free, online appointment. Let our advocates help you evaluate your choices so you can make a decision that gives you peace of mind. Avail NYC will be here while you consider your options, and we’ll be here after you’ve made your choice.

There are pregnancy support services if you decide to carry to term, and they are both free and confidential. We also offer free after-abortion support for those who have unresolved feelings and want to talk through it with someone who has been there. We are dedicated to you, making sure you have the time and freedom to consider all your possibilities so you can make the best choice for your future.

We’re Here For You

It’s possible that people in your life will try to tell you what is best, what to do, or what not to do. At Avail NYC, we help you wade through all the hype and hysteria so you can hear your voice. Listen to what you have to say. What you think and feel. Sometimes that process alone is enough for you to settle on what is best.

We will help you think and talk through what you can tell others—be it boyfriends, husbands, even your parents. No matter what choice you make, we are here for you. You are not alone. We support you and offer you our strength until you can find your own.

Contact us today to make an appointment and learn more about our free, confidential services.

Make an Appointment

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.

Making a Confident Decision About an Unplanned Pregnancy

Making a Confident Decision About an Unplanned Pregnancy

An unplanned pregnancy can make even the most confident woman stumble for a moment. The shaky hands and panic are not far off. No matter where you are in the decision-making process, you can turn around the fear and anxiety. It’s okay to “hit pause” to get your bearings and sort out your options. It all starts with an appointment at Avail NYC.

Turning Confusion into Confidence

At Avail, we know that confusion can be the first reaction when you get this type of news. Our client advocates use reflective listening to help reduce your stress so you can get back on track and start looking ahead, able to make the best possible decision for your future.

“I felt understood and not judged. I felt that I wouldn’t be alone no matter what decision I decided to make,” shared one client.

Knowledge is Power

Understanding exactly what you face, and what all your options are, in detail, can be a powerful thing. Our advocates are here to help you from the first step to the last. Get started down the path to confidence with a free, self-administered pregnancy test to confirm the symptoms you may be having, or discuss the results of your at-home test with an Avail advocate.

Common pregnancy symptoms include: frequent urination (particularly at night), nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (also known as “morning sickness”), fatigue, headaches, food cravings or aversions, or darkening and/or sensitivity of nipples.

Once you have pregnancy test results, if they are positive, we can refer you to a third-party women’s healthcare provider for a free, on-site ultrasound to find out if your pregnancy is viable, if it is ectopic (a potentially-dangerous situation requiring medical care), and what the gestational age is. These findings add to your information arsenal, and are another step on the way to making a confident decision.

Reflection Leads to a Positive Future

Looking back, you will probably recall different times in your life when important life decisions were made—some by you, maybe some by others. When it comes to decisions surrounding an unplanned pregnancy, no one but you can make the right decision.

Others—your partner, family, and friends—may have good intentions, but at the end of the day it is your life, not theirs. The decision is yours alone and it can be daunting.

Consider your beliefs, your values, your goals, your current situation, and the resources available to you as you look at your options of abortion, adoption, and parenting. Our advocates are here to answer every question you have, and make sure you have clear, unbiased information to use in your decision-making process.

We offer same-day appointments because we know that waiting can be really hard, and we want to help you in every possible way. Get in touch today, so we can get started helping you make the best choice for you.

Make an Appointment

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.

Abortion Information

Abortion Information

When you’re faced with an unexpected pregnancy, it can be overwhelming. Even scary. What should you do? How can you face this? There are some decisions ahead of you, and it can be hard to know which one is right for you.

One of your choices is an abortion. Abortion information can be found all over the web, but there is a lot of misinformation out there, so how do you know what is true and what isn’t? Here at Avail NYC, we strive to provide honest and accurate information so you can make the best decision for you.

There are a few types of abortion, and the right one for you depends solely on how far along you are in your pregnancy. The timeframe allowing for abortion can change from state to state. For instance, Wisconsin allows them to take place up until 20 weeks, while other states such as New York, Massachusetts, Florida, and Nevada allow abortions up to 24 weeks.

The Abortion Pill

The abortion pill, used until a pregnancy is 10 weeks along, is actually a combination of two pills, taken separately. The first pill, mifepristone, blocks progesterone in your body. Two days later you will take the second pill, prostaglandin. You will make a final visit to the clinic to make sure the abortion was completed.

Surgical Abortion Procedures

Aside from the abortion pill, there are different surgical abortion procedures, which also depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy.

Aspiration can be done within seven weeks. Suction curettage is most commonly done between six and 14 weeks. A variation of this procedure, dilation and curettage, is also done between six and 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Dilation and evacuation can be done from 13 to 24 weeks and late-term abortion, from 20 weeks up to 24 weeks, takes three to four days to complete, using a few different drugs for different stages of the process, and ends in a surgical procedure.

Before You Decide

Before you make any decisions, call or make an appointment at Avail NYC. Our client services team offers unbiased information in a caring, non-judgmental environment.

Come in for a free, self-administered pregnancy test. If it comes back positive, Avail offers referrals to a women’s medical facility for free ultrasound exams to qualifying clients. This will confirm the pregnancy is viable, not dangerously ectopic, and tell you how far along you are in your pregnancy.

At Avail NYC, our caring advocates work hard to make sure you have all the information you need, the space to ask questions, and provide an environment where you are empowered. We want you to be confident in the decisions you make.

Make an Appointment

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.

Is My Pregnancy Viable?

Is My Pregnancy Viable?

You’ve taken a home pregnancy test and the result has come back positive. It’s not the answer you were hoping for, and it’s completely understandable that you probably panicked and felt overwhelmed.

Now that you are thinking more clearly, you might be wondering if your pregnancy is viable (is it healthy and will it continue, or is it likely you’ll have a miscarriage?)

What should you do? Should you just wait to see if you are one of the 10-15 percent of pregnant women who have a miscarriage? Or should you do something a bit more proactive?

At Avail NYC, we encourage you to make an appointment to come in for decision-making services. This means you come in and meet with one of our client advocates. They care about you and what you are going through, and they are here to listen, to answer your questions, and to help you as you look at all your options and make the best decision for you.

We are committed to a non-judgmental environment where you can be comfortable no matter your situation. We are a place where you will find the support you need.

Step 1: Pregnancy Test

Once you have met with a client advocate, you will be offered a free, self-administered pregnancy test to re-confirm your home results. Confirmation of a positive result is an important step.

Step 2: Results

Once the test has been completed (this will take up to five minutes), your client advocate will meet with you to discuss how you feel about your results.

Step 3: Ultrasound

If you have a confirmed pregnancy, and you are far enough along in your pregnancy, we will offer you a free ultrasound referral through a licensed women’s medical center that operates a location on the same floor as Avail.

It is the ultrasound that will be able to clearly tell you if your pregnancy is viable and how far along your pregnancy is. It can also determine if your pregnancy is ectopic. Ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening and requires medical treatment.

Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to form an image and are often performed at seven to eight weeks of pregnancy. They are a reliable tool and the results will be given to you the same day.

Step 4: Decision-Making Tool

If the results show that your pregnancy is viable, your client advocate will offer you a decision-making tool that helps you to sort through your thoughts and feelings and helps you take into consideration your situation, values, and goals as you consider your options.

You will be given all the information you need to understand the benefits and risks of each option, and you will be supported no matter which option you choose.

Make an Appointment

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.

Free or Low-Cost Ultrasound in NYC

Free or Low-Cost Ultrasound in NYC

After getting a positive result on a pregnancy test, especially when it’s an unexpected pregnancy, you may have a hard time at first trying to move through the shock and fear to figure out what comes next.

One of your first steps should be an ultrasound. There are several reasons for this to be an important next step for you. First, an ultrasound can confirm the viability of the pregnancy and also tell you how far along you are. The benefit of knowing this information is that you can begin to make decisions confidently with accurate information.

Come For Free Services

When you come in for an appointment at Avail NYC, our caring client advocates are ready to offer confidential support.

We will offer you a free, self-administered pregnancy test to confirm your pregnancy. The self-administered test takes only a few minutes to give results. If your pregnancy is confirmed, Avail can refer you to a licensed medical center for a free or low-cost ultrasound exam to measure the viability and length of your pregnancy.

Ultrasound exams will further confirm pregnancy, determine if it is viable or if it is an ectopic pregnancy (which can be dangerous and may require medical treatment), and will also tell you how far along you are into the pregnancy.

An ultrasound exam uses high-frequency sound waves to capture images inside your body and is generally performed at seven to eight weeks of pregnancy. An ultrasound exam can be a useful tool for you in your decision-making process, and results are often available the same day.

Be Informed, Empowered

Our client advocates are here to help you through not only the testing phase, but afterward, to process what you have learned. If you are facing an unexpected pregnancy, you are not alone. We understand how important it is to have emotional support while facing the unknown.

Our advocates will not only help you understand the choices you have–abortion, parenting, and adoption–they will be available to support you in your decision.

Your advocate will offer and guide you through a decision-making tool that will help you to decide the right option for you, in an unbiased manner, without any pressure. Our goal is to give you all the information you need in a clear and kind manner.

We will address any concerns you may have, and can even help you tell your family and partner. Our advocates are here to support YOU.

If you are pregnant (or think you are pregnant), contact us today to talk to an advocate.

Make an Appointment

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.

Can I Be a Student While Pregnant?

Can I Be a Student While Pregnant?

You’ve taken the pregnancy test and the result isn’t what you’d hoped for. In an instant, everything has changed and you might not know the next steps to take.

As you work your way through the shock, you’ll find out that you have some time to ask questions, to get answers, and to sort through what it all means to you as you make some important decisions.

Can you go to high school while pregnant? Can you go to college while pregnant? The short answer is yes. The long answer is still yes, but it gives you information that can help you juggle both your future and academics successfully.

Help for High School Students

On the academic front, New York City’s Department of Education offers services for student parents while enrolled in high school. You have the right to stay at your current school, or you can choose to move your education to a LYFE center. Guidance counselors at your school will help guide you and connect you with the support services you need.

If you decide your current school is not the right place for you, the NYC Dept. of Education’s Referral Centers for High School Alternatives can help. They are located in every borough and are staffed with guidance counselors, social workers, and academic intervention specialists who are ready to help you.

Another alternative is the LYFE Program. The LYFE Program offers some great services to student parents, including free early childhood education, referrals to free or low-cost childcare, and a support network designed to keep you on track with school.

All of these alternatives are set up to run seamlessly, offering you everything you need to find success as you move on to college or a career.

Tips for College Students

Becoming unexpectedly pregnant while in college may not be any easier on the emotional front, but the different way classes are scheduled in college can make staying in school easier.

You’ll need to think about whether you want to attend classes every day, three days per week, or only two days. Another practical consideration may be to schedule time between classes rather than load them back-to-back, giving yourself time to rest and grab a bite to eat.

Also give thought to which classes you register for, and their location on or off campus. Will science classes include experiments with components that smell and could make you nauseous? Will the location of the class require a long or tedious walk that later in your pregnancy would be uncomfortable? Do you have the option of taking online classes?

Need Someone to Talk to?

Regardless of your age, if you are unexpectedly pregnant and wondering if you can still be a student while pregnant, be assured you can. You will need to make sure you have a healthy support system in place. Friends, family, doctors, and staff at your school are all part of a good support system. Sometimes, though, it can help to have someone in your corner that you know has only your best interest in mind.

At Avail NYC, we can help you prepare. If you need personal support, our compassionate advocates are here to help you in a safe, peaceful environment.

Make an Appointment

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.

Three Things You Should Know About Abortion Options NYC

Three Things You Should Know About Abortion Options NYC

When you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you might be weighing all of the options regarding your future. If you are looking for abortion options NYC, there are some facts you will want to know. How much is an abortion in NY? Read on to learn more.

Pregnancy Options

Are There Side Effects?

Most abortion providers will give patients a document detailing the physical symptoms and side effects they might experience after having an abortion. However, a physician might not discuss the emotional side effects this decision can have. Though serious medical complications are not common, some women report unresolved feelings of guilt, regret, or anxiety during the weeks and months following their abortion, while others have suffered longer-lasting bouts of depression.

What Are the Types of Abortion?

There are generally two types of abortion: surgical and non-surgical. Non-surgical abortion is performed up to 10 weeks and is commonly referred to as the Abortion Pill (RU-486). Surgical abortion may be performed up to 24 weeks in the state of New York, and is an in-patient procedure (may require multiple visits).

Having a surgical abortion performed without first being tested for sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) or infections (STIs) can potentially lead to complications. If bacteria from an STD or STI infiltrates your uterus through your cervix during an abortion procedure, it could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Because of this, having an STD/STI screening before seeking a surgical abortion could be beneficial to protecting your reproductive health.

Confirm Your Pregnancy

The vast majority of abortions are performed before the twelfth week of pregnancy. However, the miscarriage rate during the first trimester is surprisingly high. The chance of miscarriage averages about 15-20 percent of all pregnancies. Having an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy may help you make an informed decision about abortion.

Every month, thousands of NYC women face an unexpected pregnancy. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, Avail NYC is here to provide a safe and positive environment for you to make a confident decision for your future. Our compassionate environment offers holistic care and practical assistance, including free self-administered pregnancy tests, referrals for free ultrasounds at a third-party medical provider, and connection to outside resources that can help you face your future with ease when you make an appointment.

Contact Us

Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.