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Reflecting During Black Maternal Health Week

It’s Black Maternal Health Week. It hits differently because the statistics are very real for me and could have been deadly. I had preeclampsia in my first pregnancy as I shared with Medscape. Being a doctor it was easier to process my pregnancy journey from a factual perspective. It's only recently I've started to process how terrifying it was as the woman walking through the journey. This week I’ve read stories of beautiful Black women who look like me and can’t tell their stories. It’s been heartbreaking.

My Pregnancy Journey Revisited

Looking back, my symptoms were atypical — swelling (lots of it) and unexpected weight gain without the classic signs of high blood pressure or protein in the urine. My OB/GYN did all the routine testing, and it came back “normal.” She advised me to “Watch my weight gain and exercise more.”

At the time, I was a third-year resident working 80+ hours a week, so my response was, “My life is exercise.” I felt like I was on a treadmill that never turned off. I was constantly busy at work and home. So it was not a surprise that I missed the signs that I was not listening to my body or my needs.

I remember my last day of work before I delivered. I was so exhausted. I was 60lbs heavier than before pregnancy, and my feet were so swollen I had to buy all new shoes. Yet, I pushed through and waddled into work, still excited to treat my patients on the respiratory unit.

I didn’t know that all week my OB/GYN had been trying to reach me to let me know the test I had done the week before revealed what she’d been suspecting: I had preeclampsia.

I didn’t get any of her voicemails because I had been so focused on finishing work and not missing any days so I could have enough maternity leave to spend every moment with my baby.


When I called her back a week later, she ordered me to go to the hospital immediately. My mom and Hubby sprang into action. Once in the hospital, my vitals were so abnormal I was directly placed on IV medication to treat my preeclampsia, and they tried to induce labor. When Baby Boy started showing signs of distress, they decided to do an emergency C-section. Fortunately, he was delivered safely by C-section. We both stayed in the hospital for five days for treatment and monitoring.

My Postpartum Journey

Recovery was a long, painful journey. My C-section scar still pains me occasionally during workouts. Postpartum anxiety was a reality I lived with for six months. I'll always have immense gratitude for my support team for helping me get through that challenging time. It took two years to regain my overall wellness back to where i was feeling pre-pregnancy and to lose the remaining 40lbs of 60lbs from pregnancy weight gain.

Black Maternal Health Today

Sadly, my story isn't unique. Black women continue to face disproportionately high risks of preeclampsia and are about three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts. This disparity persists regardless of socioeconomic status or educational background. Additionally, after we deliver, Black woman are more likely to have issues like untreated postpartum depression and anxiety.

What Has Changed?

Over the past three years, there has been increasing awareness and advocacy around these issues. Organizations like the Black Mamas Matter Alliance have gained more visibility, and are continually pushing for systemic changes. However, the fight is far from over.

Lasting Lessons and New Insights

As terrifying as my experience was, I learned invaluable lessons that forever transformed me as a physician:

💜Always listen to my patients. You know your body better than anyone. I am a guide and advisor. I put words and explanations to what you see, sense, and feel.

💜Weight is more than a number. It’s your story. My only initial preeclampsia symptom was gaining weight quickly. I gained 60lbs in pregnancy. I’m glad my OB kept looking for the cause. I learned never to advise about importance without digging deep for the cause. There’s always a deeper reason than just “diet and exercise.”

💜Check my bias. Bias is so deeply rooted in our education system I could have been infected and not even realized it. I have to be vigilant to stay aware of the impact of systemic racism and weight bias in healthcare as I treat patients.

As a woman & wellness coach:

💜Prioritize you. During my pregnancy journey, everyone and everything was a priority. It caused me to miss vital warning signs my body was giving me and even calls from my doctor. Unfortunately, I see so many successful women who fall into this trap of not prioritizing yourself. As a physician and wellness coach, I am passionate about helping women embrace themselves as a high priority on their to-do list.

Above all, as I write this, I am so grateful to be alive and able to share my story.

So many of my Black sisters don’t have this opportunity and never will have.

I thank God that I’m here to write these words and see my children grow. I write these words with the prayer that every Black woman will have the same opportunity.

Listen to Black women & treat us equally👸🏾

Embrace You — My Initiative

I created 'Embrace You Weight & Wellness' to help women address the biological, emotional, and spiritual factors affecting their weight and overall wellness. If you're ready to transform your approach to health, click here for more information.

Black Maternal Health Resources

Follow inspiring professionals on Instagram for more insights and support:

Black Maternal Health Week is a time for reflection, action, and advocacy. It's a call to listen to, support, and empower Black women everywhere. Let's make every week a step towards better health and justice for all mothers.

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