The Latinx community faces a growing number of concerns when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period – concerns that can complicate an otherwise joyful time for any pregnant Latina or postpartum parent. Some of these issues may be culturally rooted or related to socioeconomics, while others may stem from generations of systemic racism.
Background: Differences in maternal and child health in Latinx
A study from the University of British Columbia, published in the Birth Place Lab, shows that people of color experience more abuse during childbirth overall. Research from a Blue Cross Blue Shield report also shows that Hispanic birth parents experience other inequalities in prenatal health care, including not being able to attend all prenatal visits due to lack of transportation or scheduling conflicts, as well as higher rates of prediabetes, preeclampsia, and anemia . Black and Hispanic/Latino mothers also experience disproportionately negative birth outcomes related to cardiovascular issues, according to the American Heart Association (in part because 1 in 16 cis Hispanic women age 20 and older have coronary artery disease). But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“Babies born to Latinos are significantly more likely to have severe birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs),” says Dr. Erica Montes, Board-Certified OB-GYN and Consultant for pH-D Feminine Health. “Although this disparity is not well understood, one reason could be that Hispanic pregnant women have lower intakes of folic acid in their diets.” Additionally, Montes says that Hispanic babies account for nearly one in four preterm infants in the United States. The birth of premature babies and babies with birth defects places additional stress, both emotionally and financially, on Latinx birth parents. Speaking of stress, Latinx birth parents are also at higher risk for postpartum depression (PPD).
“If you’ve had a history of depression or anxiety, you’re more likely to have these symptoms worsen in the postpartum period due to hormonal fluctuations,” says Dr. Stephanie Marie Turcios, OB-GYN at the University of California, San Francisco. Even if one parent doesn’t develop full-blown PPD, about 80% of birthing parents suffer from postpartum baby blues, according to Turcios. “Yes, that’s the norm! Because of these risks, I encourage everyone to reach out to their prenatal care providers if they notice any changes in their mental health,” she says.
Susana Marquez, licensed marriage and family therapist, specialist maternal mental health clinician and owner of Wellness Para La Mama, believes that a lack of resources and a lack of understanding of what maternal mental health is in our culture and in our families actually is partly to blame.
“PPD is more common among Latinas because there’s less education about it,” says Marquez. “Religion and culture perpetuate the problem by creating a false narrative about motherhood. [Sometimes called marianismo, it’s the belief that] A mother should be a martyr and put aside herself and her needs. Mothers in the Latino/Latinx community suffer more from silence, fear of guilt, judgment of shame, lack of understanding, compassion and empathy for what a mother is going through,” she says. These are just a few of the nursing challenges facing the Hispanic community.
To counter this, nonprofits, as well as doulas, midwives, gynecologists, and even social media influencers are working to create culturally competent maternal health resources.
Resources for pregnant Latinx and Latinx parents and families
Here we’ve put together a variety of resources to help you get started on your journey to supporting yourself or your loved ones. These types of resources are important to help pregnant Latinas, Latina moms, and Latinx families adjust to this new phase of life so they can deliver safely, healthily, and feel more supported in the postpartum period.
Healthy Pregnancy Resources
1. ProSalud Houston
This Houston-based non-profit organization is dedicated to promoting health awareness in the Latino/Hispanic community. They have a number of programs that can be particularly helpful for pregnant individuals, including Health Access (assistance with applications for medical assistance programs and referrals to low-cost clinics), Acido Folico (a course that educates pregnant individuals on the importance of taking folic acid). ) and a car seat adjustment course.
2. The Latina Doc
dr Ali Rodriguez is a Latina obstetrician who is also a popular social media influencer, posting on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube about reproductive health, including pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. dr Covering everything from what happens during a fetal anatomy scan to discussions of preeclampsia and even pregnancy dreams, Ali makes it educational, entertaining, and even bilingual.
3.’Waiting for Bebe: A Pregnancy Guide for Latinas’ by Lourdes Alcaniz
Although this guide is similar to other pregnancy guides, it is aimed specifically at the Hispanic community and is available in both Spanish and English. The book highlights some of the health concerns that particularly affect Latinas, deconstructs some Latinx pregnancy myths, and helps readers overcome some cultural differences, especially for first-generation Latinx pregnant women.
4. Registered Dietitians
Blanca Garcia, a Latina mother and registered dietitian from Los Angeles, says when she found out she had gestational diabetes, she knew she needed to see another dietitian for support. “While I know what to do, if you have an illness yourself, it’s not the same and it’s wise to seek help,” Garcia says.
Mexican-American nutritionist and diabetes educator Marina Chaparro is one such nutritionist. The author of Pregnancy & Diabetes: A Guide for Women with Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes, Chaparro shares much of what she knows via her Goodlife Diabetes Instagram account. She also has another IG account Nutrichicos which is all about raising healthy eaters – great to keep in mind as your baby gets older.
5. Clearbirth Doula Services
“Being a doula and providing unconditional support is helpful for clients to understand that they can talk to me about any concerns they might have,” says Annette Perel, certified birth doula, trained postpartum doula, and founder by Clearbirth Doula Services and the Clearbirth Podcast. Perel assists clients with everything from birth planning advice and labor support to assistance with colic reduction, postpartum meal preparation and more. Her podcast also helps educate and debunk listeners on myths surrounding childbirth. She also recommends another NYC-based doula group, Doulas en Español.
6. Doulas en Espanol
“Doulas en Español offers labor and postpartum doulas and childbirth classes in Spanish,” says Perel. This group helps provide culturally competent midwifery care for Latinx birth parents, including breastfeeding assistance and placenta encapsulation, as well as free doula support for Hispanic birth parents in financial need.
7. Birth Comadres Doula Collective
Those in Austin, Texas, meanwhile, can turn to the Birth Comadres Doula Collective. This group offers a range of resources, including a monthly virtual meetup to answer all your pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum questions, another monthly support group for moms only with guest speakers, and even a free program for undocumented people (including those who are experience pregnancy loss) that includes services like traditional Mexican rebozo, herbal teas, uterine care and more.
Resources after childbirth and lactation
8th. La Leche League International
Montes and Perel both recommend La Leche League International (LLLI). “La Leche League meetings can be just as helpful [as speaking with family] and often easier for parents to talk about their concerns,” says Perel. LLLI’s mission is to provide and promote support and education about lactation and breastfeeding, as well as the perfect resources for any Latina breastfeeding or Latinx person who is breastfeeding their child. Their website has loads of informative articles on these subjects, and they also have a database of both lactation consultants and personal support groups. They also have a section that provides additional support for trans and non-binary parents.
9. Postpartum Support International
Postpartum Support International (PSI) offers a wealth of information to help parents deal with life after childbirth, including a HelpLine you can call for questions, information and additional support. Her site has information on postpartum mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, postpartum psychosis, and more. They also have a database of mental health providers who help individuals find help (although these aren’t necessarily just for Latinx people). “Postpartum Support International (also) has online support groups in Spanish and coordinators who can connect a mother to resources in her town,” Marquez adds. “I’m one for LA and North OC.”
10 Therapy Databases for Latinx
Finding a culturally competent therapist can often be a challenge as a Latinx person. Fortunately, today there are a number of resources to help people connect with counselors, therapists, and other mental health providers. Both Latinx Therapy and Therapy for Latinx offer easy-to-navigate databases of mental health physicians across the country.
11. The Soulcare Collective
With a focus on supporting the spiritual and emotional well-being of Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples, this virtual space offers a range of options for individual and group wellness sessions. While the collective goes beyond parental support, its monthly support group, Birth Story Processing, specifically targets individuals who have experienced birth-related trauma, whether it be a miscarriage, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, infant death or medical condition have experienced a necessary abortion. The collective also offers affordable individual therapies, workshops and more.
12. Birth Podcast
Created by Latina mom, doula, author, postpartum educator, sleep consultant and former journalist Adriana Lozada, the Birthful Podcast is a treasure trove of information about pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. Lozada quizzes experts and parents to get listeners on basic and unexpected topics like how to deal with morning sickness, avoiding a subsequent traumatic birth, using herbs in pregnancy and postpartum, and even what your feces are doing to your baby’s microbiome Babies has to do, inform and engage.