Are You Carrying a Future Black History Maker? Read This
As Black History Month comes to an end, I couldn't help but think about black futures, especially the black futures growing in wombs right now. African American moms-to-be have a unique pregnancy experience and have to take special care in bringing these black futures into our world as healthy, strong, full-term babies.
Studies show that even successful, college educated black women are still twice as likely to have a low birth weight baby, twice as likely to have a pre-term baby and nearly three times more likely to die during childbirth than their white peers. Nobody knows the exact root cause of these disparities, and why education and class don’t protect black women from poor birth outcomes as it does for white women.
For over five years now, I’ve been on a personal mission to counteract these statistics and help black women have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. When my first book, The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy (Amistad/HarperCollins) came out, it was the first of its kind, a hip and funny book to really talk to a new audience of savvy black women about the lifestyle issues and unique stressors that are affecting our birth outcomes.
While interviewing hundreds of black women for research for that book, one of the biggest self destructive behaviors I uncovered among black women is what I call the Strong Black Woman Syndrome. We notoriously carry our communities, we carry our families and we carry our pain, but we put an S on our chest and project a “strong” image regardless of how broken we are inside. In our culture we are raised to view “weakness” as a character flaw. We must be strong. Period.
Having that conditioning and legacy is helpful in so many scenarios. But it can be damaging during pregnancy. In my many years talking to black women about pregnancy and championing the black female’s pregnancy and parenting experience at www.MochaManual.com, I am still struck by the number of black women who don’t see pregnancy as any deviation from their normal state of being. They expect to be able to continue to work just as hard, to continue to carry others, and to not take special care of themselves. We work and work and work because that’s what we do. And even while taking on the most phenomenal journey known to womankind, we act like indestructible machines that can just keep going and going, and not as fragile humans charged with shepherding a new life into the world.
So I'm asking all African American women who are carrying around future history makers, to take extra care of themselves so that we can create a new legacy, a new black history of healthy, full-term babies and healthy moms.