child health and development

Mamas on Bedrest: What’s Dad Got to do With it?

June 18th, 2017

In the birthing world, dad’s often take a very distant third place behind the baby and the mama (and usually in that order!). Many men have told me that they want to support their partners, but are unsure how, and feel left in the dark when its time to make major decisions.  My own experience having my daughter was a prime example. When my daughter was first delivered by c-section, she was having difficulty breathing so they whisked her over to the warming table to clear her airway and check her out. Meanwhile, my uterus would not contract as it should have and I began bleeding. As my obstetrician went to work on me and the neonatal team was working on my daughter, my daughter’s father was standing in the middle of the floor clueless as to what was happening. He says of that day,

“I didn’t know if I was going to come home with one of you, both of you or neither of you!”

Health care providers often neglect to acknowledge and include fathers in the perinatal process. While this oversight is almost always unintentional, health care providers and other birth workers often explain their actions with,

“I’m so focused on the well being of mama and baby, I kind of forget about the needs of the dad.”

This is a horrible oversight on the part of the medical team, and a terrible omission of a very valuable resource.

When a woman is pregnant, and even more notably when she is in labor, she’s very vulnerable. She can’t function at her normal level due to the physical changes going on in her own body, and as her body is developing the fetus. She needs her partner more than ever to help with very practical activities around the house as well as for emotional support. In my time as a doula, as much as I love supporting the women I serve, a wonderfully supportive partner almost always trumps what I can offer a mom. The bond that the couple shares having created the baby is now heightened as that baby makes its way into the world. Whether he is quietly whispering encouragement in her ear, massaging her back during contractions or literally holding her up as she labors dads’ strength and very presence are often the most soothing balm for a laboring mama.

And dads’ presences are critical to the growth and development of their children. Not only do dads give infants a sense of safety and security, as children develop, dads’ influence contributes to a lower rate of behavior problems, delinquency, depression, substance abuse and overall psychological adjustment.(1) Additionally,

“Knowing that kids feel loved by their father is a better predictor of young adults’ sense of well-being, of happiness, of life satisfaction than knowing about the extent to which they feel loved by their mothers,”

says Ronald Rohner, the director of the Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut.(2)

Dads seem to also be responsible for giving their children persistence. Laura Padilla Walker, a researcher from Brigham Young University found that dads who provide loving but firm guidance, and encourage their children to persist-even when it’s hard-endow their children with life long persistence that is closely linked to future success. Additionally, a persistent personality, in turn, was related to less delinquency and more engagement in school over time.

“Our study suggests fathers who are most effective are those who listen to their children, have a close relationship, set appropriate rules, but also grant appropriate freedoms,” study researcher Laura Padilla-Walker.

So none of this is really anything new. We know that dads are important and that their presence and loving interaction have a tremendous positive impact on their children. So today, Father’s Day, show some dads that you know some love-whether it’s your own father, a father figure, or a guy that you know who is really giving his all to be there for his children. And it’s not whether or not a dad is in love with the mother that counts. It is important for children to see their parents treating one another with respect. But parents don’t have to be married to exert their loving positive influences on their children. It’s their presence in their children’s lives that matters most.

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads!!!

Share a story of a great father that you know in our comments section below!!

 

References:

The Huffington PostThe Important Role of Dad, By Dr. Gail Gross. June 12, 2014

LiveScience – The Science of Fatherhood: Why Dad’s Matter. Stephanie Pappas, June 15, 2012

The University of Connecticut, Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance & Rejection

Laura M. Padilla-Walker, Randal D. Day, W. Justin Dyer, Brent C. Black The Journal of Early Adolescence, vol. 33, 4: pp. 433-457., First Published June 18, 2012.
Transnational Relations Between Perceived Parental Acceptance and Personality Dispositions of Children and Adults: A Meta-Analytic Review.A. Khaleque, R. P. Rohner. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2011; 16 (2): 103 DOI: 10.1177/1088868311418986

 

Mamas on Bedrest: Black Breastfeeding Infographic

August 31st, 2016

Hello Mamas,

As Black Breastfeeding Week wraps up, I am pleased to share with you an infographic that I helped to develop. Hope it helps you have get the vital information you may need to breastfeed!!!Black Breastfeeding Week_Aug 25-31_final

 

Mamas on Bedrest: Why there is a need for “Black Breastfeeding Week

August 18th, 2016

Hello Mamas,

Black Breastfeeding Week is August 25-31, 2016. Many may be asking, if August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and August 1-6 was World Breastfeeding Week, why is there a need for a Black Breastfeeding Week???

According to organizers Kimberly Seals Allers, Kiddada Green and Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka,

Black Breastfeeding Week was created because for over 40 years there has been a gaping racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. The most recent CDC data show that 75% of white women have ever breastfed versus 58.9% of black women. The fact that racial disparity in initiation and an even bigger one for duration has lingered for so long is reason enough to take 7 days to focus on the issue.”

And the organizers cite 5 specific reasons a Black Breastfeeding week is essential:

  1. The High Black Infant Mortality Rate
  2. High Rates of Diet Related Disease in African Americans
  3. Lack of diversity in the lactation field
  4. Unique cultural barriers among black women
  5. Desert-like conditions in our communities

If you ask any black breastfeeding expert what are the top barriers to breastfeeding for black women, they will reply:

  1. The historical role of black women as “wet nurses” to white (slave owner’s) children
  2. The perception by many black people that breastfeeding is “dirty” or “nasty” (the result of #1)
  3. The aggressive campaign by formula companies who capitalized on the notion that “poorer women” breastfeed and modern women of means used formula.
  4. Hospitals that serve primarily black patients have been shown not to offer the same level of support and education for breastfeeding initiation to black women
  5. Few professional black lactation consultants
  6. The lack of support from family members for breastfeeding

It has to be recognized that breastfeeding has very different implications for black women than for white women and lactation consultants trying to counsel black women to breastfeed must be aware of the cultural history of breastfeeding for black women. They need to be aware of the fact that many black women have no breastfeeding role models as their mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts may not have breastfed their babies. Without the family tradition of breastfeeding, and the history of the “mammy” wet nurse, many black women lack breastfeeding support and encouragement from their families and are not eager to breastfeed themselves. Many black women work at jobs where they may not be able to take time to nurse or pump, nor do they have a private place to nurse or pump at work. For these reasons in particular and many others, it is imperative that more black women become trained as lactation consultants. Certification to become an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), the top credential for lactation consultants, is such a rigorous and expensive endeavor, and many black women who want to become certified state they cannot afford to undertake the process.

So while there are many challenges that face black women who choose to breastfeed and Sellers, Greene and Sangodele-Ayoka-like many other black women who are well versed in the benefits of breastfeeding for back women-have taken it upon themselves to create an organization that promotes breastfeeding and where they can provide information, education, support and resources for black women who want to breastfeed.  

In counseling black women to breastfeed, highlighting the benefits of breastfeeding is a potent motivator. Breastfed babies are:

  • Less likely to have allergies and asthma
  • Less likely to have upper respiratory and ear infections
  • Less likely to have weight problems as adults
  • Less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes
  • Able to self soothe/are less fussy
  • Have less stomach upset (and less incidence of Necrotizing Enterocolitis)
  • May have increased intelligence
  • Less likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

And breastfeeding greatly benefits Mamas, Too!

  • Mamas who breastfeed tend to return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner
  • Mamas who breastfeed experience decreased incidences of breast and ovarian cancers
  • Mamas who breastfeed experience decreased incidences of Type 2 diabetes

Before being brought to this country as slaves, black women successfully breastfed their babies. Unfortunately, the legacy of slavery and many current socioeconomic and cultural barriers have made breastfeeding a difficult process for many mamas. It is imperative that these barriers be eliminated and that the education, support and resources be made available so that black mamas and their babies can reap the many life enhancing benefits of breastfeeding.

My Breastfed babies then…..

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My kids just days after the birth of my son.

And Now!!

IMG_2108

References:

http://blackbreastfeedingweek.org/

https://historyengine.richmond.edu/epsiodes/view/2901

www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27744391

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6205a1.htm

http://www.webmd.com/women/news/20140821/racial-disparities-in-breast-feeding-may-start-with-hospitals-study-suggests

www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/27/black-mothers-breastfeedi_n_5721316.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK52688/

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6333a2.htm?s_cid=mm6333a2_w

http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/breastfeeding-guide/breastfeedingguide-africanamerican-english.pdf

http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-benefits.html