Overweight women and those suffering from hypertension have increased rates of pregnancy-related deaths. (Courtesy photo)
Even before a woman decides to become pregnant, a thorough health assessment should be undertaken. This should determine how well she can manage a pregnancy as underlying health concerns may be negatively impacted or exacerbated by the work of growing a new life. Dr. Caryl Mussenden, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Institutes of Health offer recommendations for increasing positive pregnancy outcomes.
Be sure to properly manage existing health conditions. “Make sure these young women see a physician and, if necessary, a high-risk specialist that can outline a consistent plan of proper health,” Mussenden said. “It is critical that women follow all rules set by their doctors, including all lab work, exercise, and consistency with medication. following those rules will be detrimental to both the health of the mother and the unborn child.”
Before pregnancy, if a pre-existing condition is managed by drug therapy , women should work with a physician to determine if their current medications could potentially cause them adverse effects during pregnancy or fetal anomalies or defects in the unborn child. Mussenden points to some hypertension medications, including diuretics, that can be detrimental to a pregnancy.
“These are very commonly used in treating Black folks with hypertension and are known to have adverse effects on pregnancies. Women should be taken off of these medications, ultimately, before getting pregnant,” she said.
Seek the proper level of professional help. Too often Black women are treated by family practitioners and general obstetricians and gynecologists instead of specialists trained in high-risk pregnancies and medical problems that can cause complications during birth.
Eat properly and maintain a healthy pre-pregnancy weight. Obesity and hypertension are the major contributors to the Black maternal mortality rates, leading to death from strokes, renal failure and other complications associated with being overweight.