Black, Pregnant and Loving It: The Comprehensive Pregnancy Guide for Today's Woman of Color

Black, Pregnant and Loving It: The Comprehensive Pregnancy Guide for Today's Woman of Color


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624143151
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 12/27/2016
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 245,081
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Suzanna Greenidge-Hewitt, M.D. is a mother of two, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and is the founder, CEO and medical director of Woman to Woman OB/GYN. She lives in New Rochelle, New York.

Yvette Allen-Campbell is a mother of four. She has worked as a Principal, Assistant Principal, Supervisor and Central Office Administrator. She has 30 years of experience working in education and has become a leader in her field. She lives in Valley Stream, New York.

Read an Excerpt

Black, Pregnant and Loving It

The Comprehensive Pregnancy Guide for Today's Woman of Color

By Yvette Allen-Campbell, Suzanne Greenidge-Hewitt

Page Street Publishing Co.

Copyright © 2016 Yvette Allen-Campbell and Suzanne Greenidge-Hewitt
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62414-320-5


Planning Ahead

Becoming a mother will radically change your life as you know it, most likely for the better. If you're planning to stay home with your baby, the pattern of your everyday life will change dramatically. If you choose to resume your career, at the end of a day's work you have that gorgeous little face to come home to. No matter what happens during your day, you are always going to be the most important person in the world to your baby.

But the changes in your life after childbirth can wait. First, let's talk about the profound changes that occur during the course of your pregnancy. They are tremendous, and the sooner you begin to plan for them, the easier it will be later. This chapter tackles the first big decisions you must make.

Selecting a Doctor or Nurse-Midwife

"Who will help me deliver my baby?"

Next to your partner, your doctor or midwife is the most important person in your pregnancy. The person who provides you with care and helps you deliver your baby will have a big impact on your overall experience, so it is important that you feel very good and confident about your choice. Determining the most suitable medical partner for you and your baby is probably your first major decision as Mommy — and the same answer isn't right for everyone.

It's up to you to figure out what's right for you, your partner and your unborn baby — and that involves asking questions. A good place to start is by asking friends and relatives for recommendations of doctors and nurse-midwives with whom they've had good experiences. At the same time, it's important for you and your partner to talk to each other. Share your feelings and beliefs about pregnancy and childbirth. Perhaps you agree that you'll feel safer with a conventional medical birth in a hospital, in which case you will probably be happiest with a medical doctor. If a natural approach is more your style, you may want to consider a nurse-midwife. If you're not sure of what's right for you because you don't know enough about the options that are available, please turn to the Planning Baby's Birthday section of Chapter 9, "The Fifth Month." That section is dedicated to explaining in detail the choices for managing labor and childbirth.

Make sure that you can come to a consensus about the kind of care you are looking for. You certainly want your lives to be in the hands of competent, experienced professionals, which has no bearing on race or ethnicity. However, in most instances, it is an added bonus for women to have a doctor of color. It's no secret that people who share similar values, experiences and cultural patterns feel more comfortable with each other. So if you do a little research or get a reference for a highly regarded black practitioner, you and your family may be the beneficiaries of a skilled provider who engenders a sense of comfort and familiarity to you.

Either way you should meet in person with your prospective practitioner. This initial interview is your opportunity to determine whether you feel a good connection and sense of trust. Is this the person you want to care for you and help you deliver your baby? Big on your assessment checklist should be whether or not you and the practitioner share similar pregnancy and childbirth philosophies. So take some time to really think about and envision your baby's birthday. What type of experience would you like your family to have, assuming all is well and you can have it your way. Does this match the kind of care this professional provides?

You will also want to get a sense of whether or not your personalities are compatible and whether you can communicate easily and clearly. Be prepared to ask questions of yourself as well as of the practitioner, and make yourself thoroughly familiar with the potential birth site. Listen carefully and try to be realistic, since no relationships are absolutely perfect.

Here are some questions to ask any potential practitioner:

• What are your beliefs regarding natural childbirth? Be ready to share your interpretation of what natural childbirth is to you, since the practitioner may ask you to describe how you envision proceeding through a natural childbirth. (Review the natural childbirth section in Chapter 9 for more information.)

• Under what conditions will you decide to bring on labor with medications rather than allow me to continue naturally? This question is important because if you're planning to take an active role in managing your labor and delivery, then you'll need to know when your practitioner will step in and make a unilateral decision regarding the progress of your labor. A good answer to this question is "when the risks of proceeding naturally outweigh the benefits." You can ask for an example of the conditions that would make inducing labor safer. This information can help you better understand what to expect during labor.

• Will I be able to walk around freely during labor? Some practitioners will monitor you and the baby continuously throughout the entire labor while you remain in bed; others will allow you to walk around free of monitors as long as you report back periodically for monitoring. Some health-care providers now have the technology to allow you to move around freely while being monitored.

• Under what conditions do you find it necessary to use tools such as forceps or vacuums to move the baby through the birth canal? Practitioners vary in their protocols for using these tools. In general, however, if a woman gets too tired to push during labor, or if the baby is in distress, her doctor may use forceps or a vacuum to assist her.

• Do you routinely perform episiotomies? (Pronounced eh-pih-ZEE-ot-uh-meez, a cut between the vaginal opening and the anus that allows more room for the vaginal delivery of your baby.) If you feel strongly about avoiding an episiotomy, make sure to inform your provider.

Here are some questions to ask the practitioner about the site where the birth will take place:

• Does the site allow more than one person in the labor room? If you wish to have family members or friends present during your labor or delivery, you need to be aware of the hospital's policies.

• Does the site have features such as birthing rooms? (Birthing rooms are hospital rooms that look like cozy bedrooms, where you can labor, deliver and recover all in one place.)

• Does it have rooming-in policies that allow the baby and the father to stay with the mother?

• What is the level of the newborn nursery? Level one is for healthy newborn babies. Level two is for babies that require special care. Special care is usually designated for babies who are born at 32 weeks and up. Levels three and four are the neonatal intensive care units.

• Do they allow a family member in the labor, delivery and operating rooms even during cesarean births?

• Would I have to keep my legs in stirrups during delivery? There are different positions a woman can move into during labor and delivery. The more conventional positions involve stirrups, but some women prefer other positions, such as squatting. If the freedom to move into various positions is important to you, a practitioner who tends to be less conventional may be the best choice.

Once you've asked the prospective practitioner these questions, and any others that may be important to you, you'll want to think about his or her answers. Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself in order to make an informed assessment:

• Does this person seem to be a good listener and a careful explainer?

• Will he or she take my concerns about the emotional aspects of pregnancy seriously?

Be aware that if your pregnancy is considered to be high risk, your choices are limited. Conditions that might put you into the high-risk category include chronic hypertension, diabetes or a history of a premature delivery. Obviously the top priority in a high-risk pregnancy is ensuring the health of mother and child, and other preferences might have to take a backseat. The doctor you like the most or the birthing techniques that are most comfortable or convenient for you may not be the best choices for a healthy delivery.

If you're unsure whether you are high risk or not, you'll probably find out during your first prenatal visit with your health-care provider. That appointment will probably include a detailed discussion about your medical and obstetrical histories. This information you provide will help your doctor determine whether or not you are at high risk for complications.

We don't want to alarm you, but you should be aware that unanticipated complications can arise as early as your first month of pregnancy, or you might sail through the first trimester and develop complications later. If your doctor determines that you are in the high-risk category, he or she may refer you to a perinatologist (maternal fetal medicine specialist [MFM]), a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.

The Selection Criteria

When developing your criteria for selecting a doctor or midwife, here are a few things you should consider.


Competence is the major requirement of a health-care professional. In medicine, competence is associated with formal training, board certification, hospital affiliations and good references.

How can you be sure the person you want to select has the right training? Here's a primer on the different types of practitioners who deal with pregnancy and what to look for in each:

• A physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) is either a doctor of medicine (MD) or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) who has received special training that includes four years of residency in a hospital. He or she has then gone on to become board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Any doctor you select should be certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Don't assume that all the doctors you interview are board certified because it isn't mandatory everywhere. Don't be afraid to ask about this during your initial interview — it is a perfectly reasonable question.

• A perinatologist, also called a maternal fetal medicine specialist (MFM), deals specifically with high-risk pregnancies. This specialist completes the same four years of residency as an OB/GYN but then goes on to complete another three years of training as a fellow of perinatology. He or she then goes on to be board certified in perinatology. You'll want a perinatologist to manage your pregnancy if you have diabetes, hypertension or any other disorder that puts you at risk for having complications during your pregnancy. Depending upon your circumstances, a perinatologist may be your only doctor until you deliver, or he or she may co-manage with your general OB/GYN, in which case you will see them both.

• A family practitioner has had several years of training in primary care, including obstetrics, after receiving an MD. If you and your family have been using a family practitioner over a relatively long period of time, then he or she has the benefit of knowing you well and understanding your particular health (and emotional) dynamics. This can be a great advantage, presuming that you are not experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.

• A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is a licensed independent healthcare provider with the ability to prescribe medication in all 50 states, if needed. These professionals often care for women throughout their reproductive life span, and have a special emphasis on pregnancy, childbirth and gynecologic and reproductive health. CNMs are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Prior to taking the national certification examination, they must graduate from a nurse-midwifery education program accredited by ACNM. Eligibility to enter such a program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university along with an RN license in most instances. Most CNMs work in clinics, private offices, hospitals or birthing centers. They monitor the soon-to-be-mother's health and that of her unborn baby during pregnancy through regular prenatal visits. Due to their vast knowledge and training in the field of obstetrics, they should be able to address any of your questions and concerns. CNMs assist women during labor and delivery and are trained and experienced in postpartum and normal newborn care, in addition to routine gynecological care. But what's most special about this group of health-care providers is that they pride themselves on offering women a compassionate partnership with individualized methods of care. The certified midwifery profession includes certified midwives (CM) and certified professional midwives (CPM). Each title carries distinctive credentials. For more information consult or the AMCB

Another indicator of competency is the doctor's affiliations with various hospitals, known as his or her "privileges." For example, a doctor might be affiliated with a teaching hospital or a community hospital. He or she may admit patients only to the hospitals with which he or she is affiliated. Some people prefer doctors who have affiliations with teaching hospitals because they feel the doctor may be more up to date with the latest technology and research. Make no mistake about it, hospitals matter. You do want to check out the reputation of a hospital, the quality and level of its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), whether it has a center for high-risk pregnancies and certainly its health insurance policies. The federal government's website allows you to find a hospital by location or name and compare it with up to two other hospitals within a certain mile radius. The U.S. News and World Report provides an annual ranking of the best hospitals nationally and regionally. The Leapfrog Group grades hospitals from A to F on how safe they keep their patients from errors, injuries, accidents and infections. So check out the hospitals with which your doctor is affiliated because when you choose a doctor, you are also choosing a hospital.

In the world of medicine, formal training is undeniably important, along with board certification and hospital affiliations. But don't underestimate the value of good old-fashioned word of mouth. A health-care provider's competence is also reflected in what his or her patients say to their girlfriends, coworkers, neighbors and family members. Listen carefully to anyone who wants to recommend a doctor, and tell them you want complete honesty about their experiences with their providers.

Some last words on competence: a doctor or midwife of your own ethnic background may have a better understanding of your culture, and consequently may be more sensitive to your fears and beliefs. He or she may also more easily recognize and monitor important environmental and genetic factors that relate to you. A case in point: I once consulted a white dermatologist about a recurring scalp problem I was having. During our appointment, I told her about the hair touch-ups I got every six weeks. She immediately concluded that the chemicals in these treatments were probably my problem and told me to stop the treatments! I'm sure you can imagine that this was an impractical recommendation — impossible, really — as it would be for many black women. At the time, I considered it an insensitive and worthless recommendation, but I suppose it could be chalked up to cultural ignorance. In any case, I would have been better off consulting a doctor more familiar with the concerns black women have about their hair. A practioner of color might have recognized the importance of touch-ups to black woman and provided medical treatment options that work with the chemicals in those hair care products.


Mutual respect should exist at all times between you and your doctor or midwife. Although the person you choose will have expertise in a certain area, he or she should always be willing to listen to your opinions, concerns and fears, and address them in a professional manner. You deserve nothing less.

A respectful, trusting relationship with your health-care provider will also make it easier for you to disclose any important information about your life that could affect your pregnancy. For example, during your first prenatal visit, your doctor may ask you about your personal habits, such as whether you drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or indulge in any illegal or controlled substances. You may question why your health-care provider has to pry into these matters and may even be tempted to give incorrect information. Don't do that. Find the right practitioner for your family now — so you won't feel the need to undermine the process by withholding important information from her or him. This isn't about passing moral judgment; it's about increasing your odds of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Remember, though, that if at any point during your relationship with your provider you feel uncomfortable or believe you are being judged inappropriately, by all means discuss this with her or him, and if necessary look for someone else. Health-care practitioners work for you — they are not doing you a favor. There is absolutely no good reason why you should accept substandard service. A positive, trusting relationship with your health-care professional is key to your well-being during this momentous time.


Excerpted from Black, Pregnant and Loving It by Yvette Allen-Campbell, Suzanne Greenidge-Hewitt. Copyright © 2016 Yvette Allen-Campbell and Suzanne Greenidge-Hewitt. Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why a Pregnancy Book Just for Us? 11

A Message from Yuette 12

Part I Getting Ready for Baby 17

Planning Ahead 18

Selecting a Doctor or Nurse-Midwife 19

Taking Care of Business 27

That All-Important Diet 32

Weight During Pregnancy 33

Alcohol Consumption 34

What Your Body Needs for Good Health 35

Please, Someone, Translate This into Real-Life for Me 39

It Has to Taste Like Something!: Healthier Soul Food Recipes 43

Health issues Common to Pregnant Black Women 52

Facing Our Problems Head-On! 53

Hypertension Disorders of Pregnancy 54

Preeclampsia 59

Asthma 61

Gestational Diabetes 64

Preterm Birth 68

Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM) 71

Third-Trimester Bleeding and Postpartum Bleeding 73

Fibroids 75

Low Birth Weight 77

You Are Still a Beautiful Sexual Being with Needs & So Is He! 80

The Power of Touch 82

Surprising Changes 84

Making More Love 84

Part II Your Pregnancy Month by Month 87

The First Month 88

The Second Month 104

The Third Month 113

The Fourth Month 121

The Fifth Month 130

The Sixth Month 145

The Seventh Month 154

The Eighth Month 165

The Ninth Month 173

Part III The World Has One More Chance for Improvement: A Beautiful Black Baby Is Born! 181

Labor & Delivery 182

Your Body, Your Baby, Your Choice 183

Packing Your Bag 184

The Progression of Labor & Delivery 185

Life after the Big Event 199

Your Newborn 204

Baby's Skin 205

Baby's Head 205

Baby's Eyes 205

Baby's Hair 207

Appendix A A Positive Approach to Government Assistance 208

Appendix B Prenatal Appointment Schedule Worksheet 210

Appendix C A Quick Look at How Each State Supports Pregnant and New Parents 211

Acknowledgments 213

About the Authors 215

Index 216

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