Every year during April a designated week (Aprill 11-17th) is set aside to bring awareness to the community about Black Maternal Health. Why is this important? Black moms are 3-5 times more likely to have a maternal death than a white mom (Health Equity, 2022).
The rate of high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia) is 60% higher
in black women than white, which presents more death rates to black mothers. African-American black women are at a higher risk for preeclampsia than foreign black women (Health equity, 2022). Additionally, these issues do not stem only from a physiological standpoint but from a mental health one as well.
Black moms are more likely to have pregnancy-related anxiety and mood disorders
than any other race. Almost 40% of black mothers develop postpartum depression, while the national average for moms is only 15-20% (Health equity, 2022). These mental health issues stem from a variety of factors such as racism, lack of access to quality healthcare, and financial barriers. Consequently, the rates increase with the age and socioeconomic status of the black mother. Thus, we have a black maternal week to promote awareness of the health disparities that black mothers face daily.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ensure your mental health is optimal during this crucial time in your life.
Firstly, understand the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. Some common symptoms include mood swings, excessive crying, feelings of hopelessness, loss of appetite, inability to focus or concentrate. If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider.
Secondly, self-advocate. Historically, the healthcare system has not respected the needs of black women. Many times healthcare workers have not taken the pain and feelings of black women as seriously as their white counterparts. Therefore, it is important you take control of your care. Your provider should listen to you and there should be mutual trust. If you feel unheard, it is perfectly fine to seek another provider. Here are some tips to advocate for yourself at an appointment.
Do your research about your mental state and come prepared with questions.
Keep a journal of the symptoms you are experiencing to share with your provider.
Listen to your body when you experience discomfort and make it clear to your provider.
Refuse treatment you are uncomfortable with ingesting.
Fill a complaint if you feel mistreated or misrepresented.
Lastly, ask your healthcare provider about the resources available to you. There are many options to improve your mental health during this time, such as counseling, medication, support groups, and more. Make sure to have a network of black moms who you can talk with and connect too. Ensuring you have a close knit circle will give you the space to share your thoughts and feelings and not feel alone on this journey.
In addition, there are certain diet and lifestyle modifications, within your control, that you can start implementing now to reduce your chances of a high risk pregnancy AND improve your mental health.
With the help of our women's health dietitian and wellness practitioner (Sue-Ellen MS, RDN, CDCES, LDN, CPT), our clinical mental health counselor (Elena Grant MA, LAPC, NBCC) and the rest of the 360G+W team, you can overcome many of your challenges with tailored guidance that's right for you. This is something you won't be able to get from google. If you're tired of wasting precious time and energy then let us show you what our years of training and experience can provide for you.
Book a call to find out more
Health Equity (2022) https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/maternal-mortality/index.html
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