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Combating the black maternal crisis | Kimberly Garrison

Black women in the United States are more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes more than other women in the developed world.

The test result confirms that the stork will be arriving at your door step with a special delivery in nine months. Naturally, you’ll want to be in your very best health and as fit as possible for you and your baby. The joy of motherhood is unparalleled, beyond words, and having a happy and healthy baby is a joy to all parents.

But, as quiet as it is kept, there is a crisis in African American maternal and infant mortality. Yes, in 2019, black infants and mothers die at stunningly disproportionate rates. Black women in the United States are more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes more than other women in the developed world.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African American women experience pregnancy related deaths at a rate 3 to 4 times that of white women, and black infants are more than twice as likely to die as white infants. Statistics also show that even education and income offer little protection for pregnant black women.

In response to this crisis, two local social justice warrior moms, Asasiya Muhammed, a certified professional midwife (CPM) and owner of the Inner Circle Midwifery, and Delisa Roman, a certified personal trainer and owner of Fit Moms of Philly, have come together to help black mothers prevent or manage threats as well as create holistic and compassionate care before, during, and after pregnancy.

I sat down and chatted with these two determined, dynamic, and devoted sisters on tackling these hard issues.

What should pregnant black women do to minimize risks and improve the odds for better health for themselves and their babies?

R: Well, the first thing I’d do is advise expectant moms to stay off of Instagram.

M: I agree. Many women are spending a lot of time on social media, which can trigger feeling of insecurity and feeling bad about yourself. African American women are especially vulnerable because we are also dealing with trans-generational effects of racism.

Wow! I wasn’t expecting to hear about social media. But now that you mention it, I do understand how toxic it can be, and consuming social media four to six hours a day cannot be healthy for anyone. What are your thoughts around nutrition?

R: I recommend everyone initially go to a nutritionist. If you’re not already doing so, you want to establish habits of healthy eating. It’s all about fuel over flavor.

While I certainly understand the concept of fuel over flavor, how do we make that palatable and especially with pregnant women?

M: I advocate “qualitarianism.” For example, stay away from the dirty dozen, but do eat the clean 15 and eat the rainbow. Stay away from coffee, caffeine in general, but do drink plenty of water. I would also recommend taking food-based prenatal vitamins, beginning at the age of 18. Doing so will help to keep hormones balanced and boost the immune system.

What about exercise?

R: Endurance is really important when you are pregnant. I recommend working out three days a week, doing lots of pelvic exercises as well as pelvic floor work.

A lot of women burn both ends of the candle. Ideally, how much sleep should a pregnant women be getting?

M: A pregnant woman’s body works harder than anyone. A pregnant woman should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per day. Even during the day, she should have restful periods or take a 30 minute nap.

R: A lot of women are sleep deprived. We need to cut off those devises at bedtime and place the phone on the other side of the room.

What about weight gain during pregnancy?

M: I don’t think it is healthy to be overly consumed about weight. Ideally, a 35 lb. weight gain is to be expected. Maintaining a healthy weight gain may minimize other health risks.