There are several ways our bodies can surprise us during pregnancy but some of those changes are unwelcome. Here are a few tips from Dr. Susan Taylor to deal with the unwanted ones: Problem I’ve got acne. It’s like I am a teenager all over again. The Fix It’s those hormones. You may [...]
During pregnancy most expecting moms are usually cautioned by their doctors and given a list of foods to steer clear of during their nine-month stretch. At the top of the list are certain types of seafood like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish because of the potential of high levels of mercury in it. In some cases, [...]
Being pregnant any time of the year can be uncomfortable, but pregnancy during the summer months has a reputation for being even more difficult. The hot, sticky days combined with all the activities you still want to take part in can take a toll on you both mentally and physically. Erika Boom, certified pre and postnatal [...]
How did you break the news? Finding the right moment to tell your partner a new edition will be added to the family (and it isn’t a pet) may not be the easiest task. For some women, their men are the ones desperate and eager to find out if a “bun is in the oven” [...]
There are many misconceptions about Down Syndrome, especially in the African American community. Some people believe that black children don’t get Down Syndrome. Although, recent studies show that African Americans have the lowest reported prevalence of Down Syndrome, it certainly occurs in our community. Also, unfortunately, the average life expectancy for an African American in the U.S. with [...]
By Tiffany Forte What’s one of the most important things on a baby shower registry? Many people will say that it’s a child’s car seat. And though we trust manufacturers to make our products extra safe, did you know that all companies aren’t required to do side-impact crash tests? That’s going to change with new [...]
Sadly, despite all the modern-day medical triumphs, almost 16% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage or still birth according to CDC statistics compiled in 2004. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and this week we are sharing empowering personal stories, tips and resources on this important subject that affects millions of families every [...]
Pregnancy is a great time, but it can also be very troubling. Will you eat the wrong kind of fish? Did you forget your pregnancy vitamin again? Is it really time to chuck your favorite jeans for the more comfortable (but less fashionable) maternity pants? Wine, yes or no? For some women and families they [...]
When it comes to receiving advice on how to have a fabulous pregnancy, why not ask the Queen of Fabulosity herself! “Who would want to have sex with a beast like me?” screamed Kimora Lee Simmons around the eighth month of her second pregnancy. Even former supermodels have a bad day. Kimora is known as [...]
Why Trayvon Martin Has Everything To Do With Black Women’s Birth Outcomes
By Kimberly Seals Allers
For years I’ve been talking about all the research that shows that stress is a key cause of the ongoing poor birth outcomes of black women. Often, I get pushback and confusion. But the truth is, black women, regardless of socio-economic status, are still twice as likely to have a low birth weight baby, three times more likely to die during childbirth, and twice as likely to have a pre-term baby.
The fact that more African American babies are born too small, too sick or too soon is a key factor in our three times higher infant mortality rate–and my key motivation for getting in to breastfeeding advocacy work. These infants are the ones who need the nutritive and immunological benefits only found in breast milk the most–for them, it can literally mean their survival.
I have also received more than my fair share of *side eye* glances from people who ask me why black mothers need their own parenting destination, like the Mocha Manual I am often questioned as to how black mothers’ parenting experience is any different than a white mothers’ experience.
To respond to Side eye point A regarding birth outcomes, I usually point to groundbreaking research, like that of Dr. Michael Lu on the life course perspective on birth outcomes. Watch the video above on how racism impacts pregnancy outcomes or Dr. Fleda Jackson’s many pieces of research at Emory University and for the Joint Center for Poltiical and Economic Studies.
I share how Scientists know that stress on the mother causes her to produce stress hormones, which can adversely effect the development of a fetus’ hippocampus and amygdale, two areas of the brain associated both with the fight-or-flight response, memory formation and anxiety. And that prolonged stress in the mother decreases the sensitivity of those two areas of the brain to mediate its own stress response, which has been linked to, among other things, ADHD. Still, so many people don’t really get it.
So I often share my personal story of how when I was first pregnant, I prayed to God for a girl–literally–because I was afraid that I was not capable of successfully raising a black male child in this society. I feared raising a black male child in this society. And that fear was a constant source of stress. That stress was probably rooted in growing up watching my own mother fear for the safety of my younger brother. I remember her constantly warning him to not wear baggy jeans and hooded sweatshirts because police (especially in New York City) stereotype young black men with that type of clothing and often shoot first and ask questions later.
I remember her sitting by the window or pacing the living room on nights when my brother was not home by curfew.
I remember both my parents giving my brother the “talk”–not the sex talk–but the life-saving one on how to respond when you are inevitably stopped by the police for no reason but for DWB (driving while black).
And let me just say, that I grew up in a middle class section of Queens, in a private home, with two cars, and a mother who was at home until I was in middle school.
Even still, these were her fears. And she knew that neither money nor education–my brother attended Hofstra University–would not protect him nor assuage her.
So somehow my mother’s fears became my fears. God answered my prayers and gave me a girl as my first child, but my son came four years later.
And so like many mothers, and likely every Black mother, especially those with a young black male in their care, I shed tears last week over the verdict in the case over Trayvon Martin’s unnecessary death.
I cried because I know the world is full of George Zimmerman’s–people who assume our young men are “assholes” and up to no good even when they themselves have no good reason to think that. And that in a jury of so-called peers, my innocent yet dead child would be referred to as “that boy”–unworthy of being called by his name. The real possibility that a George Zimmerman could come in contact with my son, and possibly brutally end his life, continues to stress me. And haunt me.
And so I hope that in the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, there lies proof of exactly the kind of unique stressors black mothers contend with. I hope the people who have questioned how stress could be connected with pre-term labor or low birth weight babies or challenged me as to why black mothers face issues so unique that they are deserving of their own online community, can see exactly what researchers mean. These are not the worries you can Calgon-bath or Yankee-candle away.
And I sincerely pray that both of these issues, questions and challenges can be silenced, once and for all, and forever laid to rest in peace right alongside Trayvon Martin’s 17-year old, bullet-shattered body.