According to the American Heart Association (AHA), Black women face a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, having a stroke or developing complications during or immediately after pregnancy.
When Michelle Bradley Emebo was diagnosed with postpartum hypertension almost eight years ago, it was a wake-up call for her to take control of her health.
During her third trimester, Emebo’s routine checkup revealed consistently high blood pressure, leading to weekly follow-ups to monitor her condition. Although she gave birth to her daughter Sarai with no complications, her blood pressure remained high post-delivery. Despite expectations that her blood pressure and weight would normalize, Emebo struggled for months and eventually sought help from an internal medicine doctor who prescribed her a low-dose blood pressure medication.
Adjusting to a new medication became challenging for Emebo.
“It was challenging to juggle medication compliance and self-care while caring for my newborn. I had to prioritize my health to be a better parent,” she shares.
At the time, she was not paying much attention to her diet or exercise routine, and her blood pressure was a reflection of that neglect. However, she was determined to make changes that would allow her to manage her condition without relying solely on medication.
Emebo’s journey began with a bold decision to cut off all her hair. This move was driven by her commitment to prioritize her health and fitness goals over maintaining a long hairstyle that would have hindered her training. It turned out to be the best decision she ever made.
“Cutting off my hair was a symbolic step towards prioritizing my health and fitness goals. It allowed me to focus on nutrition, diet, and exercise without the time-consuming upkeep of a long hairstyle. It was a bold decision that ultimately empowered me to make significant changes in my lifestyle,” she shares.
After consulting with her healthcare provider and a nutritionist, Emebo also began making significant changes to her diet.
“I had to cut out restaurant meals and reduce my sodium intake, which had a significant impact on my diet. It required discipline and a shift in my eating habits,” the clinical researcher shares.”I also cut back on processed foods, particularly canned goods, which are often high in sodium. I became more mindful of the nutritional values of the foods I consumed.”
Increasing her water intake was another significant change. Previously, she was not a big water drinker, but she realized the importance of staying hydrated, especially for managing blood pressure. She now starts her day with a glass of water and incorporates green juice into her morning routine for added hydration and nutrients.
Emebo also began reintroducing vitamins and supplements like vitamin C, which she had stopped taking during