Pregnancy in the African American Culture

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    Dont cut a babys hair beforehis/her first birthday..

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    Fish dreams means thatsomeone is having a baby..

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    yApregnant woman is not supposed tohold her hands up over her head. It is

    believed she will strangle the baby.

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    yA

    pregnantwoman shouldnot cross her legswhen sitting.

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    y Apregnant womanshould indulge herfood cravings or thebaby will haveunpleasant physicalor personality traits

    that match thecharacteristics ofthe food.

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    yDuring labor a woman puts a knifeunder the bed or pillow to "cut" the

    pain.

    It is OK to be very

    vocal duringchildbirth.

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    y Babies were not named until it was known if theywould survive.

    y The placenta has a spirit of its own and must be

    secretly buried where it will never be disturbedand negatively affect the child.

    y Asmall portion of the umbilical cord is wrapped inpaper and put away to ensure the newborn will not

    get colic.y Talismans are used for protection and to connect

    the child to ancestral powers and the spirits ofnature.

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    yHenna body art isused during thispostpartumperiod.

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    Early prenatal care is the most importantapproach available to reduce adverse

    pregnant outcomes

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    y As a nurse we should discuss the patients beliefs andpractices in regard to nutrition during pregnancy.

    y

    The practice of geophagy (eating clay and/or dirt) iscommon in sub-Saharan Africa, and manyanthropologists believe was brought to the UnitedStates byAfrican slaves. It is now most commonlyfound among African-American women in the rural

    South.

    y Chocolate dirt

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    ySome people ofAfrican American

    heritage may use self-medication forpregnancy discomforts for example,laxatives to treat constipation

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    y Sickle Cell Disease occurs primarily in people ofAfrican American descent. Approximately 1:12 arecarriers of the Sickle Cell Trait. One in 300 AfricanA

    merican newborns have the Sickle CellD

    isease.Prenatal diagnosis and newborn screening areimportant components of perinatal care.

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    y Preeclampsia can be related to geneticpredisposition. Women ofAfrican Americandescent are at a higher risk than other races.

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    y Black women were significantly more likely to bein the heaviest weight groups, and were also morelikely to have excessive weight gain during

    pregnancy. Black women also had the highestrates of both chronic hypertension and gestationalhypertension.

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    y Midwives, referred toas Grannies, weretraditionally charged

    with the prenatal,birthing, andpostpartum care.

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    y Traditionally during the labor stage ofdelivery men are not allowed in the room.The woman will generally give birth in asquat position or on a birthing stoolsurrounded by her close friends and family

    who will burn incense and drink fresh coffee.

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    y African Americans, especially those whoseancestors are from Western Africa, may havebeliefs rooted in folk healing. Some AfricanAmericans have strong beliefs in healers andfaith healers.

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    yNew mothers are to rest and be caredfor in the initial four to eight weeks

    after birth, assisted by their family andthe community.

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    y Rest, seclusion, and dietary restraint practices in manytraditional African cultures are designed to assist the

    woman and her baby during postpartum vulnerableperiods.

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    yHot/cold: Some women ofAfricanA

    merican descent may avoid cold afterbirth. This prohibition includes coldair, wind, and all water (even if

    heated).

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    Research has been done on formula-feedingbehavior ofAfrican American mothers. Onecommon practice in this cultural group is theaddition of foods to the formula bottle, usuallyafter 2 to 3 months, but for some, as early as 2weeks into a babys life.

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    y In caring for postpartum woman ofAfricanAmerican heritage it is helpful to consider the

    three-generation extended families are common,and the grandmother is often highly respected forher wisdom. She may play a critical role in the careof the children.

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    y

    There is an ancient belief among someA

    fricancultures that colostrums is unclean or even harmfulto the newborn. They discard their colostrum or waitto breastfeed until 2-4 days have passed for when theirtrue milk arrives. While waiting for their milk tocome in, mothers feed their infant a culturally specificcolostrum substitute.

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    y Despite increases in breastfeeding in the US minoritywomen still breastfeed at lower rates then white

    women. Many immigrants breastfeed less then familymembers of their native countries after moving to theUS.

    y African American womenin particular breastfeed

    at low rates.

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    y The SIDS rate in African Americans continues toremain higher than the other races. It has been found

    that black parents were significantly more likely to bedshare at both 1 and 6 months of age, and aresignificantly less likely to place infants in the supineposition at 6 months of age.

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    African American Traditional Beliefs on Birthing. (2006,December 1). RetrievedOctober 12, 2011, from www.hawcc.hawaii.edu:http://www.hawcc.hawaii.edu/nursing/RNAfrican-American06.htm

    Aleshinloye, S. (2010, August 2).Newsone for Black America. Retrieved October

    12, 2011, fromN

    ewsone.com: http://newsone.com/newsone-oringinal/samalesh/20-black-superstitions/

    Davidson, M. R. (2012). Olds' maternal-newborn nursing & women's health acrossthe lifespan (9th ed.). Columbus: Pearson.

    Doenges, M. E., & Moorhouse,M. F. (1999).Maternal/newborn plans of careguidelines for individualizing care (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.

    Davidson, M. R. (2007). Olds' maternal-newborn nursing & women's healthacross the lifespan (8th ed.). Columbus: Pearson.