Black History Month is a time for celebrating the contributions and progress of African Americans. But it should also cause us to think about an issue that’s having a devastating impact on the Racine community. Our babies are dying at a rate of almost four times the rates of white babies because they’re born too soon. The experts tell us stress is a major reason.
Last fall, the Journey of a Lifetime Campaign was launched in Racine, and I was happy to be a part of it. Community healthcare providers have information about this program. I participated because I had a lot going on in my personal life. I was in school full-time, working and just trying to maintain my life day-to-day while expecting a child. I was under a lot of stress and wasn’t doing a good job of managing it. As a result, my baby was born too soon. It wasn’t until after I became involved in the campaign that I discovered just how serious an issue this is.
It’s true that a greater number of African American women are diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. These health issues put our babies at a higher risk of not making it to their first birthday.
Every pregnant woman should see a health provider early and often to make sure the baby’s development is normal and to make sure you are healthy enough to carry a baby the full nine months, even before you get pregnant.
Text4baby.com is a new program I learned about recently. It gives me advice weekly on my cell phone on how to care for my body and my newborn baby. It makes a real difference for me. You sign up by texting BABY to 511411.
So as we celebrate Black History Month, African American women should keep one simple thing in mind. If you want to get pregnant, are pregnant, or have just delivered a baby, be aware that stress impacts an unborn baby and do something about it. Our bodies are our babies’ home so it’s important that we take better care of ourselves. The future generation is depending on us to make the right decisions.
Racine Community Advisory Board Member