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Mother and psychologist share insights on maternal mental health for women of color

Taressa Penny
Posted at 9:46 PM, Jan 24, 2024

KANSAS CITY, MO — Taressa Penny battled through a high-risk pregnancy and learned to become the best advocate for her health.

Penny said her pregnancy was scary because doctors considered her pregnancy high risk.

Penny also knew black women die at a higher rate during or soon after giving birth.

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She decided to indulge in self care and exercise, but also worked with health care providers she says cared about her physical and mental health.

“Be transparent in those moments in order to get early intervention for resources and support that might be available,” said Penny.

Dr. Tiffany Ruffin at University Health says postpartum depression is the number one complication of child birth.

“Irritability, not acting like myself, not feeling connected and anxiety," Dr. Ruffin said. "So also the constant what if’s, the worries, the things that just keep me up at night."

Pregnant women of color are more likely to experience stress that can.impact the health of the mother and baby

“If I am feeling that way, I am less likely to want to go to these appointments," Dr, Ruffin said. "I’m less likely to be open and honest with my provider about questions or even receiving information from them because that trust isn't there."

Taressa says she's happy she and her son are healthy, but has this message to new or soon-to-be moms struggling with their mental health: “Know there is nothing wrong with you at all, it’s completely normal,” she said.