On Friday, February 19, a free VirtualiTEA: Diet & Heart Health event organized by the South LA/South Bay African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Community Action Team brought together a group of over 40 public health and birth workers and new and expectant parents to discuss the importance of holistic health for Black women during all phases of pregnancy and post-birth, from preconception to the postnatal period (one year after baby’s birth). The live Zoom featured presentations by speakers Nurse Jacqueline Williams, founder of Women’s Global Health Promotion and CEO of Aspire Nursing Consultants, Inc., and Keisha Davis, Doula/Midwife Associate.
Nurse Williams kicked off the event by emphasizing the importance of heart health during pregnancy, noting the strain that pregnancy can cause on the heart. Pre-postpartum care is critical, Nurse Jackie shared, mentioning that some rare forms of heart failure, Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM) specifically, can occur after pregnancy.
She also urged the importance of advocating for oneself during pregnancy. “If that doctor is not listening to you, you may want to find another doctor who will listen,” Nurse Williams said, reminding the women, “I deserve to be listened to. This is for the benefit of my baby and my health.”
Davis spoke about nutrition and prioritizing it as part of one’s lifestyle even before conception. “Everyone should be preparing,” she said. “Preconception is vital. Placenta is what sustains pregnancy and provides nutrition and oxygenation for the fetus. Preparing your womb is important and we do that by making sure you are healthy.”
Moments into her presentation, Davis was interrupted by a text from a mom in labor and the chat blew up:
“Awww! Come on, brand new human!!!” Commented one attendee.
“Yes!!! Babies come on their own time. Our work in action--love this!” Exclaimed another.
Without skipping a beat, Davis returned her attention to the event once she knew that the mom was safely on her way home from the hospital. She continued by noting that, “nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all,” and that following an individualized nutrition plan from preconception throughout pregnancy—including healthy snacks to maintain energy during labor—should be an important part of one’s overall wellness strategy.
“Make sure your womb is healthy,” cautioned Davis. “You want to be sure you’re aligning everything. It’s not just about eating healthy. You want to prepare your body for this new life force.”
Throughout the event, the chat area was lively and supportive, with tips shared on everything from how to add trace minerals to water, vegan recipes, eating for one’s blood type, and the superfood du jour: sea moss. “This sea moss has taken over the chat!” Laughed moderator Payshia Edwards, AAIMM Community Outreach and Engagement Workgroup Co-Chair. Black-owned Nappily Naturals & Apothecary, a health and beauty shop in South Los Angeles, received a lot of love and a group of ladies even planned an excursion to Leimert Park to stock up on nutritional supplies.
Closing out the event, Adjoa Jones, Co-Lead South L.A./South Bay AAIMM Community Action Team, continued the good vibes and community spirit by leading the group of attendees in the recitation of uplifting affirmations:
- I embrace the greatness within me.
- I accept responsibility for my own happiness and development.
- I am building a supportive network that encourages and motivates me.
- I am proud of my culture, upbringing and experiences that made me who I am today.
- I am a strong Black woman, man, or person who deserves all the good things that are coming my way.
“This was so informative. Thank you!” Commented attendee Summer McBride.
In case you missed it, February’s VirtualiTEA: Diet & Heart Health is available for streaming on @blackinfantsandfamilies Facebook’s page at https://bit.ly/3dC8hYf.