High Risk Pregnancy

Mamas on Bedrest: The Myth of the Missing Black Father Debunked

May 19th, 2015

Greetings Mamas!!

Seldom do I revert to childish gloating, but occasionally I just have to go there. Such is the case as I am gleefully reading the report put out by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention utilizing data from the National Center for Health Statistics which shows that Black fathers are just as engaged-if not more so-in the rearing and support of their children than fathers of other races. 

Excuse me while I take a moment to gloat.

Yeeeeeeeee haw!!!!!


“Ha! Told yaaaaaaa!!”

“Na na na na na, you were wrong!!!!!”

Now you may be wondering why I am so over the moon about this research? Well, there are several reasons.

1. I am sick to death of hearing how black men are no good, they “hit it and quit it” and don’t take responsibility for the children that they help create.

2. I am sick and tired of hearing that all the ills of the world are because of black men.

3. I am thoroughly done with the portrayal of black men-black people actually-as uncivilized and bringing down the status of US culture globally.

4. And I am beyond through with this nation feeling that it is okay to kill a black male simply because he is present in time and space!

Now you all may be wondering, “What in God’s name does any of this have to do with high risk pregnancy and bed rest??” Well, it has everything to do with it. As I have often reported, African American women and infants have the worst birth outcomes of any other race or ethnicity in the US, with 2-4 times the morbidity and mortality of women and infants of other races and ethnicities. An African American infant is more than twice as likely to die before its first birthday than infants of other races and ethnicities and this is due primarily to preterm birth!!!

Are you following me yet?

Let me continue. Ever since I can remember and at least for my adult professional life “the party line” regarding the black family has been,

“It’s the breakdown of the black family, and the absence of black fathers in particular, that is the cause of the high maternal and infant morbidity and mortality that exists amongst African Americans.”

As an African American, and now as a divorced single mama, I knew that isn’t at all the case but had no way of substantiating what I knew to be true. Now there is concrete data obtained by one of the most reputable scientific bodies in the United States that has shown what many of us African Americans already knew. Yes, many more African American children are born to  and/or raised by “single” mothers, but what this study has shown is that while the parents of a child may not be married, they may in fact be together (co-habitating) and even if they are not living together, African American fathers are intricately involved in the rearing of and support (and here I do mean financially) of their children, in many cases more than White or Latino fathers.


My son and his dad reading at the library.


So again you may be asking, “What does this have to do with preterm labor and infant mortality?” Stay with me.

There is a lot going on in the United States as regards race and quite frankly none of it is good. We have all seen and heard the news reports of police shooting unarmed African American men, racial profiling of both African American men and women, disparities in discipline for African American School Children and so on and so on and so on. These are daily facts of life, daily stressors for African American women, and daily stressors for the infants they are carrying. Additionally, poverty for all families is reaching heights not seen since the great depression and other times in our history. The unemployment rate is still teetering on the high side and looms highest amongst African American men. More depressing is the fact that people of any race with higher educations are now just as likely as those with little to no education to endure a prolonged time of unemployment, and those numbers are again higher for African American men. This amounts to markedly elevated stress for African American men and African American women, their partners. Stress, as well as poverty, is not good for anyone, but particularly not good for pregnant African American women and the infants that they are carrying. We know that stress is an independent risk factor for preterm labor, prematurity and low birth weight all areas in which African Americans have the highest rates. So I think that it is safe to say that poverty, unemployment and racism are far strong predictors and stressors on maternal and infant morbidity and mortality in African Americans than “absentee dads”.

Now I know that many of you are going to come right back at me and say, “But what about black on black violence? What about the crime rates in predominantly black neighborhoods? And we know that many African American men abandon their family responsibilities.” Agreed. But the data from this study, which was broad and the study well constructed, shows that despite all these negative influences, African American men continue to be hands on fathers, and at greater rates than white or Latino fathers.

I wholeheartedly admit that there is much that needs to be done within my culture to heal it. But let’s not look astray too much to lay blame. Much of what we see in these urban, depressed areas is poverty; boarded up buildings, non-existent stores and services, poorer schools and no revenue coming into these areas. Add to that no jobs, no way for people in these areas to support themselves and their families, no money, leads to crime and yes, homicides. Is it okay? No. Is it an excuse? Of course not. But let’s consider the fact that if people in these areas had jobs, income and ways in which to support and sustain their families, then, according to data from the CDC again, crime rates would in fact go down and quality of life would go up.

But I myself have veered a bit off topic. The bottom line is this-even in depressed economic times, even in economically depressed communities, even when jobless, even with the threats to their lives black men are taking care of their children. Contrary to the sensationalized news reports and the stereotypic depictions on television and in movies, black men are taking care of their children-their families. The question now becomes, how can we as a culture, as a nation give them a hand so that this can continue? What are we as a nation, as a culture doing to reduce poverty, increase jobs, increase opportunities for education so that not just black men, but all men, can have the means to raise and support their children?

Finally, we have to ask the question, “Have we too narrowly defined “family”? We know from this work that there are men and women living together and raising their children but not married, or married and helping to raise their spouse’s children. Aren’t they still a family? What about blended families? Large extended families? This is all data that is yet to be analyzed-or even obtained. We know that African Americans being of the African diaspora are a “tribal” people. Migration and dispersion-both voluntary and involuntary-has also played a role in the depressed socioeconomic status of African Americans resulting in decreased community support for families. How are we as African Americans going to re-establish our communities and our families going forward?

There are many unanswered questions and I am sure that many more studies will come about, but what we do know is this: African American men are supporting their children and its time to toss out the stereotypes of them as “absentee fathers” and do what we can to support their efforts and the efforts of all men who want to be active parents to their children.


Jo Jones, Ph.D., and William D. Mosher, Ph.D., “Father’s Involvement With Their Children: United States, 2006–2010”. National Health Statistics Report, Number 71, December 20, 2013

The Causes of Infant Mortality-The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

African-American Women and Their Babies at a Higher Risk for Pregnancy and Birth ComplicationsThe US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Black Unemployment Rate 2015: In Better Economy, African-Americans See Minimal GainsInternational Business Times.

Murry, V. M., Brown, P. A., Brody, G. H., Cutrona, C. E. and Simons, R. L. (2001), “Racial Discrimination as a Moderator of the Links Among Stress, Maternal Psychological Functioning, and Family Relationships.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 63: 915–926. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00915. x

The Absent Black Father Myth Debunked-by CDCThe Daily Kos

Mamas on Bedrest: Will Beetroot Juice Lower Blood Pressure or Help Treat Pre-Eclampsia?

April 20th, 2015

Hello Mamas!

This came as a response to a post I did on the use of Nifedipine, an antihypertensive (blood pressure lowering) medication, used to treat preterm labor.

Latest details, revealed by the United States Of America Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and based, on over a decades research, suggests that fatalities, from causes associated with high blood pressure levels, are regretfully growing strongly. A particular possibly encouraging portion of wider research, suggests the important role beetroot juice may possibly play, in helping to better management regarding blood pressure levels. It may be a life saver for you to be alert to this research and I’m very happy to share these details to you.

I get a lot of these types of notices on my blog posts and quite frankly, I typically delete them. But with this one, I decided to see what “literature” they are referencing and to see if it is at all credible. But I will tell you right now, I am highly skeptical about this and using this “comment” as an example, I will share with you why I don’t recommend therapies on this blog.

So let’s pull this apart. The first statement is in fact true. There is an increase in the incidences of high blood pressure in the United States and many pregnant women are affected-be it with Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) or Pre-Eclampsia (the more complicated syndrome of high blood pressure, facial and extremity swelling and proteinuria). PIH is often managed expectantly, i.e., HCP’s monitor the blood pressure and make sure that it doesn’t go beyond a certain level. Health care providers also are vigilant to look for other associated complications and to see of the PIH is going to progress to Pre-Eclampsia. Now with isolated elevated blood pressure, it is likely pretty harmless if a woman wants to increase her beet intake. Beets are good sources of iron and vitamins, so incorporating them into the diet is a good thing. But without seeing any credible literature, I am not going to say that eating beets is going to have any particular impact on blood pressure or will prevent any progression of complications. So with that statement, I cannot recommend beet consumption as a means to prevent or treat pre-eclampsia. I’ve never seen any credible literature to this effect, so I am not going to make any sort of suggestion or recommendation. Pre-Eclampsia is a serious medical condition that can threaten the life of a pregnant mama and her baby. It requires intense medical supervision and any woman who has been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia or who is at risk for developing pre-eclampsia needs to have a close relationship with her health care team and receive guidance and treatment from them.

So let’s look at the next statement. A particular possibly encouraging portion of wider research, suggests the important role beetroot juice may possibly play, in helping to better management regarding blood pressure levels. I have no idea to what research this person is referring. I read a lot of articles and publications; the New England Journal of Medicine, The British Journal of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Lancet, The Perinatal Journal put out by the Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses and many many others. Never have I seen any reference to beetroot juice being used for high blood pressure. I’ve not seen it in any cardiology journals, in anything put out by the American Heart Association or, as mentioned, by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yes, curiosity got me to approve this comment because I want to see who is the reference for the recommendation of beetroot juice for the treatment of hypertension.

It may be a life saver for you to be alert to this research and I’m very happy to share these details to you. Really?? Again, who is/are the references? Who did the research? Where is it published? Most times when there is a release of medical information, the press release reads, “Researchers find XXXX leads to improved outcomes of YYY” and immediately following the headline, the publication and date are posted. Not the case here.

What really concerns me is that whoever wrote this comment, I don’t think really understands what the post they commented on was about. Nifedipine, an antihypertensive medication, is sometimes used as a tocolytic (a medication to stop preterm contractions) in women who are experiencing preterm labor. I cannot tell whether or not this person actually read the post, or happened across the Nifedipine in the heading and decided to comment. In either case, this comment tells me that they are not really well educated on preterm labor, hypertension, Nifedipine or the use of Nifedipine for the treatment of preterm labor. That being said, I’m even less inclined to regard any information that they submit regarding the use of beetroot juice as credible. As I have said, I’d like to see the references, but I am not in any way looking for Beetroot juice to be the next great cure for PIH or Pre-eclampsia.

Mamas, I do my best to bring you the latest credible information and the newest advances in treatments for high risk pregnancy. Your lives and the lives of your babies are of utmost importance to me and I try to weed out extraneous “information”. I am sure that sometimes you may think that I am being too stringent or too protective of the website. My goal is always to bring you the best, and when something doesn’t meet standards of care or deviates so radically from the medical literature, I typically don’t include it. Now you know why.

Let’s see what this comment yields. I’ll keep you posted.

Addendum: I looked up Beetroot Juice and it seems that there was a study done at Wake Forest University that showed Beetroot Juice increases blood flow to the brain and that these findings show that there may be some usefulness to drinking beetroot juice to prevent the progression of dementia. There is nothing about treatment for high blood pressure in this research. I didn’t find any specific research indicating the drinking beetroot juice or eating beets decreased blood pressure during pregnancy. However, as previously stated, beets are high in iron and vitamins (as are many fruits and vegetables) so incorporating them into your diet, as a way to round out your nutrition, is a good thing. To try to treat PIH or Pre-eclampsia, I did not find evidence.

If any of you have credible research resources that indicate beetroot juice is useful in lowering PIH or Pre-eclampsia, please share these references in the comments section below. Thanks.

Mamas on Bedrest: Busting Bedrest Blues

March 23rd, 2015

Hello Mamas!

If you missed our most recent tele seminar, you really missed a treat! “Former” Mama on Bedrest Parijat Deshpande moderated a panel discussion between Me, Angela Davids (Owner of KeepEmCookin.com) and herself. We not only had a great time together, we shared some great information on Busting Bedrest Blues. I know that I learned a lot and added some great tips and techniques I’ll use when working with mamas. There were some technical difficulties with the original recording, but after some editing, here it is. Enjoy!