If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I have a passion for infant and maternal health care in African Americans. It is simply unacceptable to me that the rates of maternal and infant mortality in the United States are as high as they are (See Amnesty International’s report Deadly Delivery) and that the rates are 4-5 times higher in African Americans. While there seems to be a lot of speculation about why, I still feel that there is very little being done practically. It is what drove me to start Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond and it is what keeps me going.
But thankfully, I am not alone. There are many other people who are equally invested in improving maternal and infant outcomes in the United States, but specifically amongst African Americans. I present two of these ladies and their work here.
Shafia Monroe, Founder of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing.
The International Center for Traditional Childbearing, Inc. (ICTC) is a non-profit African centered organization located in Portland, Oregon. It was founded in August of 1991 by Shafia Monroe. In addition to being a Certified Midwife by the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance, Shafia is also a Childbirth Educator, a Doula Trainer, and mother of seven children. Shafia is also a passionate a health activist, organizer, and international speaker. Shafia created ICTC as a way to promote the health of women and their families and to train Black women aspiring to become midwives. ICTC encompasses oral traditions from Africa, the Caribbean, and the “Deep South.” They educate and advocate through community workshops, study groups, or just one to one support.
My favorite program is the Sistah Care program, that trains young women ages 13-17 to support other young women who become pregnant. These young women receive in depth training about their own sexuality and are then able to talk to and counsel their peers. Through this training, ICTC is able to support young women who wish to become doulas, midwives, obstetricians or neonatologists in their life and career paths.
CommonSense Childbirth: The JJ Way (R) Model of Maternity Care
CommonSense Childbirth is LM, CPM Jennie Joseph’s trademarked model of maternity care. She bases her model on these principles:
- Freedom of Choice: Labor and delivery can take place in any location the woman feels most comfortable.
- Self-Reliance: The mother participates as an equal partner, with knowledge presented at her level.
- Easy Access: From the moment a pregnant woman enters the clinic, a team member greets her warmly. This immediate connection is a simple but critical part of the accessibility of the practice. No one is turned away, and this reputation in the community makes it easier for women to take the first step of entering the clinic.
- Team Approach: Each staff member has a role to play, from the receptionist who greets each woman by name when she walks through the door, to the office manager who knows every client. Family members, the father of the baby, and friends are also brought in as part of the mother’s team. Together all members are engaged in the explicit goal of helping the mother achieve a healthy, full-term pregnancy.
- Connection Creation: We work hard to promote prenatal bonding not only between mother and baby, but also with the father, siblings, extended family, friends, and clinic team members.
- Gap Management: The team works together to identify any gaps or barriers the client is facing and begins ‘gap management’ triage. We then work to provide practical solutions based on the real life situation of each woman and engage all pertinent team players and outside resources in the process.
- Education: We inspire knowledge through alternative approaches to teaching, with peer educators, and by making waiting room time learning time, often in groups with an informal, friendly feel, yet still thorough.
Jennie’s goal is simple and elegantly stated in her mission statement:
The goal of The JJ Way is to eliminate racial and class disparities in perinatal health and improve birth outcomes for all. Key objectives of The JJ Way® are for pregnancies to reach a gestation of 37 weeks or greater and for newborns to have a birth weight of 5 lbs. 8 oz or greater, for women (and their families) to bond well to their babies and to start and succeed at breastfeeding. The JJ Way’s innovative model builds on the strengths of the Midwives Model of Care to reach a population that does not typically seek midwifery services.
These amazing women have dedicated their professional lives to improving health outcomes for African American mothers and babies. I am so pleased to know them and to wholeheartedly recommend them and their services for ALL women, but notably for African American women.
If you know of other outstanding African American Birth Professionals, please share this information below or Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mamas on Bedrest, your kids are off from school, you’re sidelined and everyone is trying to figure out just what to do to make this a festive Thanksgiving. Why not create a Gratitude Tree? It’s easy to do and something that you can do while in bed with your kids. See how I did this with my kids here.
Click to take the postpartum depression survey conducted by Case Western Reserve University http://filer.case.edu/~axp335/postpartdep.htm Thank you very much for your consideration.
How does a mama go about choosing a prenatal vitamin? For me it was easy. When I became pregnant, my OB prescribed prenatal vitamins and I took them. I assumed that this was how it is for all pregnant mamas. Boy was I ever mistaken! Recently I was on a social network page and there were all manner of “suggestions” flying about from taking only organic supplements to taking a Flintstone’s Chewable if that is all mama can hold down. Last spring I was even shocked to learn from one of my clients that she wasn’t even taking a prenatal vitamin because her OB believed that all it did was create “expensive pee.” So what types of vitamins does a pregnant mama need?
In a recent blog post, I posted excellent information from my friend and colleague, Rosalind Haney, a nutritionist and natural fertility consultant. Rosalind and I have often discussed the nutritional needs of pregnant women and quite frankly we disagree on the supplement issue. Rosalind believes that women can get all the nutrients that they need from their diet-provided they follow a very specific diet. I on the other hand, knowing how nutrient depleted many of our foods are once they reach market, am a firm believer in nutritional supplementation-especially for pregnant mamas. In addition to the decreased nutrient content of many of our foods and the mechanically altered practices used to process most of our foods, my experience is that most women don’t get the recommended amount of nutrients to sustain their own health-let alone the health of a developing baby. Add to that morning (or as it was in my case all day for all 9 months) sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum (excessive nausea and vomiting during pregnancy) and a mama can easily become malnourished and nutritionally depleted.
But for simplicity’s sake, let’s take a mama who isn’t suffering from hyperemesis. What are her nutritional needs? One of my favorite sources is my friend Heidi Murkoff. She does an excellent job of delineating what pregnant mama needs nutritionally in her book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I’m not going to copy the entire section, but here is a summary of mama’s nutritional needs:
- An additional 300 calories daily (if you are average weight and are having one baby. Nutritional needs will vary if you are over or under weight and/or carry multiples.
- 3 servings of protein daily. Total protein consumption should be approximately 75 grams daily.
- 4 servings of Calcium daily. Total consumption should be about 1200 mg daily
- 3 Servings of Vitamin C daily.
- 3-4 servings of green leafy and yellow vegetables daily.
- 1-2 servings of other fruits and vegetables daily
- 6 or more servings of whole grains and beans (legumes) daily
- Iron rich foods daily
- 4 servings of fats daily
- At least 8 eight oz glasses of fluids daily.
Heidi gives great explanations of why each food group is necessary, what it is used for in the development of your baby and what to do if you have food limitations such as lactose intolerance, vegetarian/vegan, etc… And at the end of this summary, she recommends a that every woman take a prenatal supplement.
Prenatal supplements are being recognized as an essential component in prenatal health. Several supplements have been associated with specific benefits such as Omega 3 Fatty Acids (fish oils) helping to prevent post partum depression, Calcium and Magnesium helping to lower the risk of Pregnancy induced hypertension and Pre-Eclampsia and Inositol in addition to folate to prevent neural tube defects. While there are still no standardized levels for some vitamins and supplements, many have recommended dosages for pregnancy.
Heidi gives a great overview of what a prenatal vitamin should contain. I also looked at the Cleveland Clinic’s as well as the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations and compared them all to well known prenatal vitamin, Prenate-The Essential, Elite and DHA formulas. It’s very interesting to say the least. Here is how they compare:
Vitamin/supplement Mayo Cleveland Prenate Elite Prenate DHA Prenate Essential
Vitamin A — 4000-5000IU 2500 IU — —
Vitamin C 70 mg 70 mg 80 mg 85mg 85mg
Vitamin D3 400 IU 400 IU 400 IU 200 IU 200 IU
Vitamin E 10 mg 10 mg 10 IU 10 IU 10 IU
Folate 400 mg 800-1000mg 1 mg 1 mg 1 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 3mg 1.5mg 10mg — —
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 2mg 1.6mg 3.4mg 12mcg —
Niacin 20mg 17mg 20mg — —
Vitamin B6 (pyidoxine) — 2.6mg 20mg 25mg 25mg
Vitamin B12 6mcg 2.2-12mg 12mcg — 12mcg
Calcium 200-300 mg 200-300mg 120mg 140mg 140mg
Iron 17mg 30mg 27mg 27mg 28mg
Zinc 15mg 15mg 15mg — —
Magnesium — — 30mg 45mg 45mg
Iodine — — 150mcg 150mcg 150mcg
Copper — — 2mg — —
Biotin — — 300mcg — 250mcg
Pantothenic Acid — — 6mg — —
Omega 3 (EPA*) — — — — 40mg
Omega 3 (DHA** ) — — — 300mg 300mg
*EPA= Eicosapentaenoic acid
** DHA= Docosahexaenoic acid
As one can see, there are some basic essentials to prenatal vitamins, and then a wide variety of variation. When selecting a prenatal vitamin (provided your OB has not prescribed one for you) look for a vitamin that will provide you with as close to the recommended daily allowances as possible, with the necessary modifications for pregnancy. For example, pregnant women should not ingest more than about 5ooo IU of vitamin A, but if the Vitamin A used is alpha or beta Carotene, the non-toxic forms of the vitamins, then more a can be taken, up to 7500 IU in some vitamins. Pregnant women should get 1000-1200 mg of Calcium daily, yet in divided doses so that the body can absorb it. Doses larger than about 600mg result in the excess being excreted in the urine. While many sources cite only 400IU of folate, research has confirmed a pregnant mama’s folate needs are closer to 800-1000mg daily. And while not as well known, women should be supplementing with Omega 3 Fatty Acids (DHA and EPA) especially during the third trimester as these fatty acids have been shown to help reduce the risk of developing post partum depression. (See our blog on this!)
Choosing a prenatal vitamin can be confusing, but a good, preferably pharmaceutical grade prenatal supplement one of the best ways to ensure that your body has all the essential nutrients it needs to sustain your health and to develop a healthy baby.
Want a free copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting? Be one of the first 3 respondents to this blog and you’ll receive a copy of the book-free!
For more information or a personalized consultation, send an e-mail to email@example.com to schedule an appointment. Subscribe to this blog by clicking on the RSS button in the upper right hand corner of this blog page. Share your thoughts on prenatal vitamins below. Follow us on Twitter, @mamasonbedrest. You can also interact with us on our Facebook page.