Black Maternal Health

Part: 10

Pregnant? Your Job Is To Take Care of Yourself

Friday, May 8, 2009

In an excerpt from one of her "Mocha Manual" books, Kimberly Seals Allers, editorial director of the Black Maternal Health Series, gives pregnant black women some key, common-sense advice: Take time to take care of yourself.

Kimberly Seals Allers and children

(WOMENSENEWS)--So here you are a strong, beautiful black woman about to have a baby.

Unfortunately, for most of us, this baby-making business isn't all we have going on.

There are career obligations, financial concerns, stress in the workplace, family drama, girlfriend drama, husband or significant-other drama. There are meetings, deadlines, spiritual and civic obligations, telephone check-ins on all the people who depend on you, and perhaps a robust social life.

It's a common problem with black women.

We are the original den mothers--always looking out for others, husbands, children, employers, family and friends--while somehow managing to further our career, find a meaningful relationship and keep our spirituality intact.

We give up time for ourselves, to take care of others. We push ourselves even though we're either tired or the perennial "sick and tired," hungry, or in dire need of some me time.

Looking After Ourselves

We do the Strong Black Woman thing convinced that strength, invincibility, suffering and self-sacrifice define us as black women. This is part of our culture and upbringing. We are notoriously good at tending to others but woefully bad at looking after ourselves. This poses a unique problem in pregnancy.

Your job for the next nine months is to do your personal best to bring a healthy, full term baby into the world.

Pregnancy is a special time, a crucial time for you to focus on yourself and the life growing inside of you. This is particularly true for black women who are twice as likely to have a low birth weight or pre-term baby. Furthermore, the percentage of our babies who never make it to their first birthday is shamefully high. These numbers can't be ignored.

Kimberly Seals Allers

Understanding that the complexities of our lives as black women can influence our responses to various situations, including pregnancy, is key to helping us reverse the statistical tide in our birth outcomes.

Understanding the impact of stress on our birth outcomes is a first step for us to start a new trend for more healthy pregnancies and more healthy babies.

So where does that leave you?

Ready to exhale and let go, I hope.

Learn to listen to your body signals and practice the fine art of the surrender. Take time daily to relax, breathe deeply, eat well, and focus on the growing life inside of you.

And don't forget to let yourself be celebrated and pampered on Mother's Day and every day.

Excerpted with permission from The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy (Amistad/HarperCollins) by Kimberly Seals Allers.

Kimberly Seals Allers is author of The Mocha Manual series of books, founder and editor in chief of, an online magazine and community for black moms, and producer of The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy DVD available at and Acme Supermarkets. She is also the editorial director of the Black Maternal Health project at Women's eNews. Visit for more info for expecting and new moms.

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Part: 13

Tonya Lewis Lee Aims to Save Nation's Babies

Part: 12

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Part: 11

Lawmakers Join Push to Close Maternal Health Gaps

Part: 10

Industry, Feds Entice Black Mothers to Bottle Feed

Part: 9

Midwives Fight AMA to Provide Black Maternal Care

Part: 7

Breastfeeding Not for You? Sisters, Listen Up

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U.S. Black Maternal Hazards Tied to Social Stress

Part: 5

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Part: 3

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