In celebration of Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17), maternal health care providers are educating the community about Black maternal health. Topics range from racial disparities in maternal mortality (42.8 deaths per 100,000 births) and morbidity (166% higher compared to white women) to sharing pregnancy and birth stories from other Black community members.

When planning a pregnancy, it’s important for women to embrace their bodies before, during and after pregnancy. Though it may seem unimportant, discussing preconception health with potential moms-to-be is critical to decreasing maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality rates, and to aid in the well-being of mother and baby throughout the pregnancy. Factors such as nutrition, risk assessment, fertility, exercise, and mental health are important to monitor and discuss with potential future mothers.

Tips on these topics include:

  • Nutrition
    • Avoid certain food:
      • Raw, undercooked meats — The risk of infections increases from consumption, such as E. coli and salmonella
      • Raw eggs can be contaminated with salmonella bacteria — Symptoms of infection include fever, vomiting and stomach cramps
      • Fish high in mercury — Fish can be toxic to your kidneys, nervous and immune system
      • Soft cheese such as feta, brie, camembert and chevre — These foods can contain the same harmful bacteria previously mentioned
      • Alcohol and caffeine — Both are absorbed easily through the placenta very quickly which increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth
      • For women of color, be sure you are getting enough vitamin D and calcium in your diet
  • Risk assessment
    • This is usually done at the first prenatal appointment to discuss:
      • Basic medical and pregnancy history
      • Preconception counseling
    • Women of color are more at risk for sickle cell disease, so doctors recommend that moms and their partners be tested for this trait so that necessary precautions can be taken before your little one arrives
  • Fertility
    • Track your ovulation period to know the best time to conceive
    • Keep track of your basal body temperature
    • Staying healthy is the best way to maintain fertility
  • Exercise
    • Maintain a safe exercise regime
      • Walking or light jogging
      • No weight lifting
  • Mental health
    • Do your best to manage your stress level
    • Develop a self-care plan
    • Find a therapist to resolve any unsettled emotional trauma

Women should be embracing their bodies before, during and after pregnancy. It is important to maintain a healthy you so that you are able to conceive properly and to have an overall healthy pregnancy. Women of color should be mindful of their reproductive life plan so that they know the proper steps to take to have a child.

To schedule an appointment with UofL Physicians – OB/GYN & Women’s Health, call 502-588-4400.

About Black Maternal Health Week

These tips were presented as part of a week-long series of events on Black Maternal Health Week. Dr. Tanya Franklin with UofL Physicians – OB/GYN & Women’s Health, presented the information along with Dr. Ashley Anderson from Athena Health and Wellness. Visit the Louisville Coalition for Black Maternal Health Facebook page for resources.

UofL Health providers are participating in Black Maternal Health Week to raise awareness, promote health equity, and improve maternal outcomes for women of color throughout the community. To participate in Black Maternal Health Week virtual events, click here to learn more and register for upcoming events.

Image of post author
Article by:

Tanya Franklin, M.D., MSPH

Tanya Franklin, M.D., MSPH, is an obstetrician and gynecologist with the Ryan Family Planning Center, a part of UofL Physicians – OB/GYN & Women’s Health. She completed her medical degree, internship, residency and master’s in public health at University of Louisville. Her philosophy of care is: “I want to empower women with knowledge and serve as their partner in health care choices. I believe when women make their health a priority, their families can thrive. As an OB/GYN, I see my impact not only through my female patients but also on their loved ones.”

All posts by Tanya Franklin, M.D., MSPH
Calendar icon that indicates scheduling an appointment
Schedule an