This Women’s Health Advocate Wants to Decrease Black Maternal Mortality Rates in Philly
Meet Asasiya Muhammad, one of our 2020 Health Hero semi-finalists.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be chatting with our semi-finalists in the 2020 Be Well Philly Health Hero Challenge brought to you by Independence Blue Cross to give you a glimpse of the people who are helping Philadelphians live healthier lives. Vote to help decide which of these 10 semi-finalists become one of three finalists — and get a sizable donation to a charity of their choice — here. Remember, you can vote once a day until October 1st!
Nonprofit of choice: Maternity Care Coalition. Since 1980, Maternity Care Coalition has assisted more than 135,000 families throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, focusing particularly on neighborhoods with high rates of poverty, infant mortality, health disparities, and changing immigration patterns. A family’s needs change as they go through pregnancy and their child’s first years, and MCC offers a range of services and programs for every step along the way.
What motivates you to try to make Philadelphia a healthier place?
I cherish Philadelphia as the place where I have had my most life-shaping experiences, some high such as graduating college, becoming a mother, and raising a family — and others low. I’ve had experiences that have left me feeling isolated, lost, and voiceless. As a Black mother, I have faced the feelings of fear and uncertainty many Black women in Philadelphia face, because of the haunting statistic that we are two times more likely to die during pregnancy, or within a year of giving birth due to pregnancy-related complications.
As a midwife, I understand that the majority of these complications are preventable, and therefore have made it my mission to build a community-based a practice that is committed to diminishing this disparity in Philadelphia. My practice is unique in that it has a wraparound care component that bundles nutritional counseling and fitness classes into standard midwifery care.
Describe a health- or fitness-related turning point in your life.
A key turning point in my health was when I switched to a plant-based diet at the age of 21. Prior to that switch, I would often get headaches, feel fatigued, and have inexplicable discomfort. It wasn’t until I eliminated meat and dairy and switched to organic produce and whole foods that I realized the source of my imbalances. If done correctly, with a full spectrum of vital nutrients, a plant-based diet is ideal, in my opinion. However, I have also come to learn the value of high-quality food groups, meaning foods and animal based products that are not processed with hormones and chemicals.
What policy would you institute to make greater Philadelphia a healthier region?
I would institute a policy that expanded the use of and access to community-based providers and particularly related to those specializing in natural health and food access. This would look like expanding insurance access to providers like midwives, doulas, nutritional counselors, and fitness experts so that these services are both normalized and accessible to a larger part of the population. This would further look like creating sustainable food cooperatives in neighborhoods that are distant from larger markets and who now rely on stores that mostly carry processed foods.
What’s the most important part of your health or wellness regimen?
The most important parts of my wellness regimen are eating balanced meals, drinking water, meditation, getting adequate rest, and strength training. I am on call 90 percent of the time so I have to combat adrenal fatigue by keeping my body and mind as clean as possible. In my line of work, my focus is essential so centering my energy and practicing good sleep hygiene is mandatory to maintaining mental and physical balance.
What is your number one piece of health-related advice?
Good nutrition is the most important aspect to your overall health — that includes what you put in your mouth and in your mind. Whatever you consume for the sake of health should be sound scientifically and not based on fads or trends.
Check out all the semi-finalists here, and remember to vote HERE now. (Remember, you can vote once a day until October 1st!) Stay in touch with @bewellphilly and @phillymagevents and be sure to follow the challenge using #BWPHealthHero!