Updated: Jan 17
Recently, I posted an article about the heart risks that African American Women face during pregnancy. If you were unable to read the article in the Did You Know news section courtesy of the newsroom.heart website, I’ve attached the link below.
A highlight from the article stated that clinicians need to monitor these women during their pregnancies who are at an increased risk.
When I read this article, it brought to mind a client I had when I was employed as a Child Protective Specialist at Children Services. She was not African American, but an Ecuadorian woman whose primary language was Spanish. Despite the language barrier (communicated with the aid of a Spanish Interpreter), we developed a close relationship during her pregnancy with her twin daughters.
Instead of monitoring her and her family, which included her son and husband biweekly, I maintained phone and face to face contact with them on a weekly basis. If she didn’t come to see me at the field office, I went to visit her. My concern was that besides her husband, she had no family here and I wanted to make sure that I provided her with the necessary services to ensure that she maintained a stress free and healthy pregnancy.
Before the case was closed, she went into the hospital with a fever. Her husband notified me, and she expressed to me via the Spanish interpreter that she felt that her babies would be born before their time. I never thought that these words would come to haunt me to this day.
While in the field, I decided to make an unannounced visit to see her and a client who was in the same area. I wanted to let her know that I was working on childcare services for her son and to make sure that she was okay. She appeared a little tired, but thought that it was due to the pregnancy.
The following day, I received a call from her social worker that she had died while in recovery after giving birth to her healthy twin daughters. She died of a bilateral pulmonary embolism at 25 years young. It broke my heart to know that I saw her in her last hours and there was nothing that I was able to do about it. I wish that there was more that I was able to do for her…for her babies that were left behind without their mother.
Even though I was unable to save her life, I want to let you mamas know that it is extremely important to know your family history. I knew mine, but not to a full extent.
Prior to my pregnancy 11 years ago, I knew that diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol ran in my family. When I was pregnant, I knew that I had a fibroid that affected a healthy pregnancy and that I was 38 years old. I knew that I had to change my mindset and maintain a healthy diet to ensure that my unborn son had a chance in this world. I controlled what I was able to and was consistent.
So today, whether you are early in your pregnancy, along the way or planning to become pregnant, please remember to focus on your health! Try to find out what health issues are in your family and maintain a healthy lifestyle from pregnancy and beyond. If you are having a difficult time doing it alone, let your support system know that you and your baby need help or connect to a supportive system that wants the best for you and your baby. Asking for help is okay and should never be looked at as a sign of weakness.
This isn't an African American, Latina, Indian, Russian or any culture; it’s for all women! Trust your instincts if you're not feeling well. This isn't medical advice, it's to bring awareness of the importance of taking care of you.
Maintain your medical prenatal appointments, personal care, dental care, mental care and a healthy diet. Till next time mamas!
Black women have the highest risk of pregnancy-related heart problems in the US | American Heart Association