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Nutritional Health for Birthing People & Infants Centered in Black Culture

Nutritional health for birthing people and infants involves recognizing the diversity of traditional foods and dietary practices within the Black community. In this post, we highlight some foods and recipes that doulas recommend for a healthy pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. This is not an exhaustive list!

🥬 Collard greens, kale, spinach & okra: Collard greens, kale, spinach, and okra are nutrient-dense leafy green vegetables that provide a variety of essential vitamins and minerals including fiber, magnesium, iron, folate, calcium and vitamins A, C, and K.

🥑🥜 Avocados & nuts: Avocados and nuts are rich in healthy fats, which are associated with heart health and may help lower bad cholesterol levels. Avocados are a great source of potassium, while nuts provide a plant-based source of protein.

🍠🍚 Oats, rice, yams & seeds: While each of these foods have unique characteristics, they are all nutrient rich. Specifically, they are a great source of fiber and fueled with carbohydrates that support energy production.

🍫 Dark chocolate & papaya: In addition to satisfying a sweet craving, these dark chocolate and papaya are sources of fiber and calcium. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids (which have antioxidants) and supports blood flow, while papaya offers anti-inflamatory properties and hydration.

PS: this is not an exhaustive list!

“Every traditional culture has learned through hundreds and thousands of years what will help a new mother or birthing person to rest, heal, and thrive.” Mother-for-Mothers Postpartum Justice (MPJ, @postpartumjustice) collected traditional postpartum recipes from the African Diaspora. Check them out:

Disclaimer: We are not dietitians or nutritionists, these recommendations are based on optimal nutrition guidelines by ACOG, RDA, USDA and research. These guidelines provide the minimum level of recommended requirements of nutrients and yet there are several other factors which contribute to a person being well nourished. While they will assist the majority of pregnant and lactating people, there are always exceptions. What works for one person may not work for another person. There are considerations such as age, weight, environment, health status, stress, ability to move physically, quality of food, quality of air, culture, language, access to healthy food and clean water.

Recognize the importance of a holistic approach to health, considering not only physical well-being but also emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. This may involve incorporating practices such as mindfulness, meditation, and cultural rituals.

What foods and traditions celebrate and nourish Black culture for you? Share foods and traditions that celebrate and nourish Black culture, ancestors, and traditions in the comments!

This blog post was written by Sofía Carbone, SisterWeb's Communications Coordinator, with support and guidance from Hamdia Sharif, Kindred Birth Companions Community Doula, and resources from a Birth Core Competency training (BCC) by SisterWeb's Workforce Development focused on perinatal nutrition. Thank you Hamdia and SisterWeb's Workforce Development Program for your knowledge and wisdom.

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