Reclaiming Your Power: the Role of Wellness in Your Pregnancy Journey
Wellness should be a priority across all seasons of life, but particularly before and during pregnancy. During those nine+ months that your body takes to grow a human being, it’s extra important to exercise, build healthy habits and do all the things that empower you to stay healthy and feel good—particularly for Black women.
The Black Maternal Health crisis continues to be a national issue, as Black moms continue to face one of the highest mortality rates among industrialized nations. “To know that the rate at which Black women are dying is similar to third world countries is unacceptable,” says panelist Sanya Richards-Ross, a four-time Olympic track and field gold-medalist and co-founder of MommiNation, a nonprofit and resource that offers a safe space, community and support for Black moms from pregnancy to motherhood. “The journey of becoming a mom is one of the most beautiful and incredible times in a woman’s life—and it shouldn’t be scary because of what might happen when we give birth.”
Richards-Ross sat down with panelists Temeka Zore, MD, an ob-gyn and fertility specialist based in San Francisco; Mykal Steen, co-owner of MommiNation; and The Bump’s Jen Hayes Lee, head of marketing, to explore ways Black moms can counteract this crisis on a personal level and how they prioritize wellness in all aspects of their pregnancy journey.
According to Zore, Black women tend to have higher rates of certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes compared to white women. It’s important to ensure these chronic medical conditions are being monitored while trying to conceive and during pregnancy, especially since pregnancy can often exacerbate them. It’s crucial for Black moms to arm themselves with knowledge and know the risk factors to look for, Zore says. For example, a pregnant person at higher risk for preeclampsia due to preexisting conditions should be aware of its symptoms and any warning signs. It’s also vital to have a provider you trust and feel comfortable with—as well as support people in your corner who will advocate for you. Despite being an ob-gyn, as a Black woman Zore recounts telling her husband during her second pregnancy, “I need you to be there for me—if I’m telling you something’s not right, I need you to run with that and help me be the voice if I can’t.”
Along with setting yourself up with a support network, there are also platforms designed to empower Black moms and inspire lasting change—like MommiNation. Steen’s advice to Black moms? Find a tribe and a community with shared experiences to lean on—and know that if you’re trying your best, you’re doing enough. “We say at MommiNation that it takes a village to raise a child and a nation to support a mommy—and we really, really believe that,” she says. Richards-Ross echoes this, adding, “It’s okay to feel like you’re not ready, to feel like you’re never gonna be ready—I waited a long time to become a mom, and you may never feel like you’re ready, but then one day you have this baby and you realize you are enough.”
Sanya Richards-Ross is a retired track and field runner with four Olympic gold medals under her belt, founder of MommiNation and currently stars on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Between being a boss-lady and an advocate for Black women, she also juggles her own roles as a wife and mother.
Mykal Steen is the co-owner of MommiNation and a mom herself. With extensive experience in both motherhood and as a leader for a Fortune 500 company, she worked with Richards-Ross to create a vibrant community of Black moms that fosters lifelong relationships. The pair also established MommiNation Gives in 2022, a non-profit that gives back and supports displaced moms and their families.
Temeka Zore, MD, is a double-board certified ob-gyn and fertility specialist practicing at Spring Fertility in San Francisco. She’s previously published articles on topics of PCOS, preimplantation genetic testing and diversity in medicine. She’s passionate about educating and empowering patients about their fertility so they can make informed decisions about their reproductive health and family planning.
For more conversations around Black maternal health, check out other Reclaiming Your Power interviews with Hannah Bronfman and panelists discussing the role of a prenatal wellness team. Visit The Bump’s Black Maternal Health Hub for more information, inspiration and support.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.