Posts Tagged ‘ families ’

Breastfeeding support: Fathers needed

The role of the expectant father and the significance of paternal impact on maternal and child health are often overlooked.  We know that men play a vital role in pregnancy and child birth, and research has shown that a father’s involvement has a positive impact on a child’s emotional and psychological state, educational development, and school readiness, as well as increased ability to socialize and build good relationships. In contrast, research suggests that the lack of father involvement can have long- term negative effects on children.

Fathers play a significant role to mothers and infants during breastfeeding, most especially in the first few weeks, when lack of sleep and hormonal changes can sometimes make new mothers waver in their determination to breastfeed. The father can head-off discouragement, deflect negative comments from friends and relatives, help calm a fussy baby, and bring the new mother food and drinks while she is breastfeeding. Most importantly the baby’s father can remind the new mother that breastfeeding is one of the most important things she can do to get their baby off to a good start in life. Babies need a lot of physical contact, and when not breastfeeding, a father’s loving arms are a wonderful place for his baby to be.

What can dad do to support nursing mothers?  Some recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) for fathers:

  1. Helping around the house reduces stress for your partner and make sure she gets enough rest.
  2. “Burp” the baby after feeding – Dad’s chest is great for this!
  3. Care for the baby in ways other than feeding (baths, diaper changes, walks).

For more information about Where Dads Matter or to get involved with a workgroup contact the NHSA Office at info@nationalhealthystart.org and more information about World Breastfeeding Week by WHO at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/meetings/2013/world_breastfeeding_week/en/.

Alice Wang is the NHSA Summer Intern with us from Hong Kong, China.

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Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7

World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7 and this year’s theme is Breastfeeding support: close to mothers. It is time to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding to not only families but also the whole community.

For those who are not familiar with it, breastfeeding is the feeding of an infant or young child with breast milk directly from female human breasts (i.e., via lactation) rather than using infant formula from a baby bottle or other container. Breastfeeding is so much than a meal. Breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein needed for a baby’s growth and development.

There are many reasons why breast-feeding is best for you and your baby. According to one article from BabyCentre, breastfeeding benefits babies and moms.

For Baby:

  • Breast milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months.WorldBreastfeedingWeek
  • It’s easy to digest.
  • It protects from infections.
  • Your baby is never allergic to your breast milk.
  • It gives comfort and security to your baby.
  • It helps the brain to grow.

For Mom:

  • It lets you feel close to your baby.
  • It helps you lose weight.
  • It helps your uterus return to normal with less bleeding.
  • You don’t have to wash bottles.
  • You don’t have to buy formula.
  • Fewer doctor visits.
  • It lowers risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

It is our duty and responsibility to provide babies with a good start in life by ensuring breastfeeding.

For more information about World Breastfeeding Week 2013, please visit worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

In addition, you can learn more information and programs about breastfeeding in the United States at breastfeedingusa.org.

 

 Alice Wang is the NHSA Summer Intern with us from Hong Kong, China.

Prematurity Awareness and Men

Ken Scarborough is the volunteer coordinator for the NHSA Male Involvement Initiative and Male Involvement Coordinator at REACHUP, Inc.

November is recognized as Prematurity Awareness Month by the March of Dimes and the rest of the nation. This is a particularly important issue for Healthy Start and our work. Often times what he can do during this month gets lost in educating her.

According to an article written by Jasmine Jafferali in the Examiner dated November 1, 2012, there are 8 ways to reduce the risk for premature birth.  This article will identify 5 of the 8 ways and then provide ways that he can help and/or support:

Don’t Smoke. Her smoking and his smoking are detrimental during the pregnancy. When she finds it difficult to stop, he can either model stopping or support and encourage her as she attempts to stop.

Get your teeth checked early. Providing him this information on the importance of good dental care allows him to raise the question to her, schedule an appointment for her and join her on the visit.

Exercise. Her exercising can help to reduce preeclampsia and gestational diabetes; both have shown to increase the risk for pre-term labor.  This is often a natural behavior or a welcome activity for men.  He can partner with her to either continue to exercise throughout the pregnancy or to begin if she is currently not exercising.  This can also serve to build and growth their relationship.

Stay hydrated.  Water is best.  He can encourage her to drink lots of water during the pregnancy, while staying away from other drinks like those containing lots of sugar or alcohol.  As he seeks to meet her dietary urges, he can provide alternatives in cases where needed.  He too can pledge to stop himself.

Don’t slack off in the third trimester.  He can be there to encourage her to continue to eat healthy, drink plenty of water and eat protein rich and high in vitamin C foods.  His presence reassures a level of commitment into the future.

Supporting and modeling these five things can be instrumental in validating the importance of his role in also helping to reduce Prematurity.  If he is on board, we can really have an even more Thankful attitude during November because there will be less of a need to focus on Prematurity Awareness. Let’s Get His Attention and increase his Awareness also!

http://examiner.com/article/8-ways-to-reduce-your-risk-for-premature-birth.

June is Men’s Health Month!

Every June Men’s Health Network (MHN), along with hundreds of partners across the country and the world, celebrates Men’s Health Month as a time to raise awareness of male health issues and encourage men and their families to seek preventive care.  The centerpiece of the month-long celebration is Men’s Health Week, which takes place during the week leading up to and including Father’s Day (June 11-17 of this year).  Men’s Health Week was created by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1994.

This awareness period is an excellent time to recognize the importance of men’s health – not only for each individual man, but also for the impact that men’s health has on families and our society as a whole.  Men in the United States die an average of five years earlier than women, die at higher rates for 9 of the top 10 causes of death, and tend to live sicker as well.  The impact is significant for women: the U.S. Administration on Aging has reported that “more than half of women now living in poverty were not poor before the death of their husbands.”

With the recognition of Father’s Day, we are particularly reminded of the impact that men have on the lives of their children.  Men who take care of their health with a good diet, regular exercise, and preventive screenings and doctor visits serve as role models for their kids’ health habits and are more likely to be around for all those important moments like graduations, birthdays and weddings.  Being a father can also have its own health benefits when men commit to better habits so that they can live life more fully with their children.

During June and throughout the year, faith communities, government agencies, employers and local organizations are holding events such as free health screenings and presentations about important men’s health topics.  Cookouts, races and guys’ nights out are also planned to encourage men to take better care of themselves.  For more information on Men’s Health Month, including ideas for what you can do, please check out the Men’s Health Month website at http://www.menshealthmonth.org/.

Men’s Health Network is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys and their families where they live, work, play and pray with health prevention messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient navigation.  MHN participates in the annual Head Start conference and works in partnership with the NHSA to promote the involvement and health of fathers. 

We Did What We Set Out To Do

As the month closes, I am proud to say that we accomplished our goal — to increase awareness around infant mortality. We tried new communication vehicles like Twitter to get the word out, we spotlighted guest bloggers to tell us how they felt about the issue, and we created new materials to help others spread the message. Our commitment this year was to do more than what we did last year and the year before to educate the public about an issue that effects each and every one of us. Someone said yesterday that it doesn’t matter if you have children or not, infant mortality has an impact on all of us. It is very true. You may have a friend, family member, or colleague who has experienced the loss of their baby. You share in their pain, you grieve for their loss. In the end, it has affected you. I know I said it at the beginning of the month, but I will say it again – the health of a nation is often determined by their infant mortality rate. When babies die, our communities suffer, as does the country. When babies die, the mental health and well-being of a family can be severely impacted. When babies die, we lose the potential for greatness in a child who could be the next mathematician, doctor, community organizer or engineer. That is why the work we all did this month must not stop here.

Yes, September will be gone tomorrow, but infant mortality awareness is a year-round issue. I urge you to continue your efforts over the next 11 months and be even more vigilant in your fight to reduce infant deaths. When the next “awareness” month rolls around, National Infant Mortality Awareness Month will be a thing of the past until 2012. But we know how critically important it is that we keep this as an issue of today and every day. Our commitment to families must remain steadfast 365 days a year so that EVERY baby gets to reach day 366!

~Stacey Cunningham, Executive Director, NHSA

Why is it important to raise awareness about infant mortality?

Today marks the first day of September, the first day that reminds us Fall is near, and the first day of a month where we pay special attention to an issue plaguing our so many communities in this country. Today we start our 30 days of awareness, but also 30 days of celebration for those babies who are turning 1 year old, 2 years old, 3 years old and on.

As we begin the month, I can’t help but recall a recent conversation I had with a young woman from a Louisiana newspaper. She was calling to confirm the black infant mortality rate for New Orleans because “it seems extremely high,” she says. I informed her that while I didn’t have the statistic directly in front of me, that it sounded pretty accurate. She also said her editor asked her to confirm the statistics because he said “if they are really that high, then we have an epidemic on our hands.”   I wanted to scream “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?? OF COURSE WE HAVE AN EPIDEMIC!” I was in awe and frightened that people who I thought should know, have no idea that babies are dying at such alarming rates in their very own backyard. I shook my head in disbelief, as I thought about all of the work we have all done to educate and inform communities about infant mortality. I realized we still have a lot of educating to do.

We not only have to educate our soon-to-be mothers and fathers, families, health professionals, non-profit and community based organizations but also that person you are sitting next to on the train or standing behind in line at the grocery store. We must inform everyone we come in contact with to make sure they truly understand how this issue also affects them. Many people are not aware that the infant mortality rate often serves as an indicator of a nation’s health. If our rate is ranked 31st among other industrialized countries, what does that say about the health of the United States? What does that say about the health of our population? To me, it says that we need to get to work on helping people better understand how everything impacts their health and the health of their children. What they eat, where they live, the life experiences they have and the resources and services they have access to, all ultimately have an impact on their health. It is important that we raise awareness about infant mortality to the corporations who sell packaged food, the developers who build homes, the mental health professionals who treat stressed people and so many others who we may not otherwise think have an impact on our health, but do. We have some hard work ahead of us this month, but knowing we will save the life of a baby, makes it all worth it.

Throughout the entire month, NHSA will use this blog to hear from many of our community and national leaders in the maternal and child health field, asking them the question “Why do you feel it is important to raise awareness around infant mortality?” I know I will enjoy reading their responses and hope you will follow the blog this month to hear what they have to say. We encourage you to join NHSA this September in our efforts to increase awareness and spread the word about infant mortality. We also encourage you to spread the word about infant mortality in your community. We have great tools on our website to help you learn more about the issue. We believe that collectively, we can help save the lives of millions of babies in this country. Help us make sure every baby reaches their first birthday, their second birthday, the fifteenth birthday and their thirtieth birthday!