Come on over and link up a favorite post that you wrote this week! Amy and/or I will come over and comment on each of your posts. I hope that you’ll spread the love and visit the blog or two above yours too.
August 29, 2014
August 29, 2014
August 26, 2014
Friday was the Menininho’s first day of kindergarten. I’m not one of those moms who gets emotional about her kids going off to school. I mean, I started sending M alone to autism preschool when he was 20 months old. Going off to kindergarten doesn’t feel new, just longer (all-day instead of half-day).
But, it’s a big change for M. It means leaving the classroom and teachers he’s had for 3 school years. It means a full day. It means many more kids in his class, and the removal of some supports.
I’ve stressed over it. Like any parent, I want him to be successful. Like any special needs parent, I understand the road can be harder for my son than for others, and that there are many factors that can affect his opportunities to be successful.
So, I met with his school team, and his private therapists. We set up a plan. I used social stories and a classroom visit to get the Menininho ready. And then? We had to jump in with both feet.
M was late coming home from school. I knew the bus had gotten lost. M. hates this bus (seriously: one of the first things he told his new teacher was how much he hates this bus. He didn’t care that there would be a new driver this year.). I was a little worried how he’d handle his missed stop.
He bounded off the bus a few minutes later, telling me that he’d informed the bus driver that she’d missed his house, then gave her his address and how to get there.
Let’s analyze this for a moment. My son, on his first day of a new schedule, new class, new classmates, ad slightly new bus route, recognized that his home was missed, then felt comfortable enough telling his new driver that she’d made a mistake. Then, he remembered where he lived. AND, on top of all of this, when I asked if he was upset, he insisted “no, it was kind of fun to see where people lived!”
6 months ago, this wouldn’t have happened. Heck, 3 months ago this wouldn’t have happened.
But wait! There’s more!
When a classmate made fun of him for his My Little Ponies backpack (a scenario he’d been worried about), saying “That’s a girls’ show and a girls’ backpack!” M calmly replied, “Well, my brother and I like it!” and that was that! He also reported sitting alone at lunch, but what was awesome about this is that he was able to explain why he sat alone: he didn’t know how to talk to a group of kids, with multiple conversations going on at once. Finally, M was open to calling his grandmothers and aunt to tell them all about his day, something that can be challenging for him.
So, while the leaving for kindergarten didn’t get me emotional, the coming home brought a little tear to my eye. Some days it’s still hard to wrap my head around the progress the Menininho has made in the last 4 years since his diagnosis, when the doctor told us he wasn’t sure if M would talk. I think back to the strides he’s made just over the past year, and it’s a little overwhelming. I’m grateful, I’m so proud of him, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this school year holds for him.
August 8, 2014
It’s World Breastfeeding Week! Back in 2011, I was asked to guest post about breastfeeding on about.com. I went to pull up the article today to share it, but it looks like it’s no longer on the site and the link from my blog no longer works. So, I think it’s fair game for me to republish that post here!
Why It’s Time to Move Past “Breast is Best”
As a public health practitioner, I tend to look at any health issue through my “Masters of Public Health lens.” I can appreciate the beauty of the “Breast is Best” campaign. I mean, who hasn’t heard that slogan at some point? It’s catchy! Although not easy to measure, I’d assume this campaign has done a fair amount to help teach new mothers that breastmilk is best for their babies.
I’d like to take this time during World Breastfeeding Week to encourage us to move past “Breast is Best” though. It’s a bit like a campaign about water safety, where the extent of the campaign is “life vests are the best way to prevent drowning.” Great! But where do we get a life vest? What if the life vest doesn’t fit? How do we use alternatives to life vests if one isn’t available or we’d prefer not to use one? There’s so much more to the story!
One of the keys to a good health campaign is to 1) give people the reasons they should change their behavior and 2) help them see they have the ability to change that behavior. When both of these are not present the campaign ultimately fails; people are left feeling stressed and may even rebel against the health behavior being recommended. We can clearly see that stress in the great “breastmilk vs formula debate.”
Many women know that breastmilk is best for their child, but that knowledge doesn’t address some very real barriers to breastfeeding. What if breastfeeding doesn’t appear to work? What if a woman doesn’t know about, can’t find, or can’t afford a lactation consultant? What if she gets less than accurate information from a physician? How does a woman learn how to pump effectively, and what if she doesn’t have access to a pump or a place to pump, but needs to go back to work? The list goes on. Knowing the benefits of breastmilk does little if women feel unsupported in other ways.
The fact is, while more women may be educated about the importance of breastmilk, real disparities exist. In the 2011 Breastfeeding Report Card, the CDC reports that the national average for “ever breastfeeding” is 74.6%, a slight increase from 2007’s 73.8%. That said, only a little more than a third of women are exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months (35%) and a paltry 14.8% are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months. Nearly a quarter of babies receive formula within the first two days of life (24.5%).
Then, the numbers are even lower when considering certain ethnic and social economic minorities. According to the CDC’s National Immunization Survey (2004-2008), 66.1% of women on WIC initiated breastfeeding, as did only 54.4% of non-Hispanic African-Americans, and 53% of women under the age of 20.
Clearly, we have a long way to go. It’s time for some focused campaigns. Let’s take the time to really understand barriers to breastfeeding, accept them as valid, work to remove them one by one and leave the blanket statements a thing of the past.