How Different Cultures Protect New Mothers, by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

Kathleen Kendall-Tackett examines how other cultures protect new mothers’ well-being.

Is ours not a strange culture that focuses so much attention on childbirth—virtually all of it based on anxiety and fear—and so little on the crucial time after birth, when patterns are established that will affect the individual and the family for decades? Suzanne Arms.

As citizens of an industrialized nation, we often act as if we have nothing to learn from low-income, developing countries. Yet many of these cultures are doing something extraordinarily right—especially in how they care for new mothers. In their classic paper, Stern and Kruckman (1983) present an anthropological critique of the literature. They found that in the cultures they studied, postpartum disorders, including the “baby blues,” were virtually nonexistent. By contrast, 50% to 85% of new mothers in industrialized nations experience the “baby blues,” and 15% to 25% (or more) experience postpartum depression.

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Ken Tackett

What makes the difference?

Stern and Kruckman noted that cultures who had a low incidence of postpartum mood disorders all had rituals that provided support and care for new mothers. These cultures, although quite different from each other, all shared

5 protective social structures

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Ken Tackett
  1. A distinct postpartum period. In these other cultures, the postpartum period is recognized as a time that is distinct from normal life. It is a time when the mother is supposed to recuperate. Her activities are limited and her female relatives take care of her. This type of care was also common in colonial America, when postpartum was referred to as the “lying-in” period. This period functioned as a time of “apprenticeship,” when more experienced mothers mentored the new mother.
  2. Protective measures reflecting the new mother’s vulnerability. During the postpartum period, new mothers are recognized as being especially vulnerable. Ritual bathing, washing of hair, massage, binding of the abdomen, and other types of personal care are prominent in the postpartum rituals of rural Guatemala, Mayan women in the Yucatan, Latina women both in the United States and Mexico. These rituals also mark the postpartum period as distinct from other times in women’s lives.
  3. Social seclusion and mandated rest. Postpartum is a time for the mother to rest, regain strength, and care for the baby. Related to the concept of vulnerability is the widespread practice of social seclusion for new mothers. For example, in the Punjab, women and their babies are secluded from everyone but female relatives and their midwives for five days. Seclusion is said to promote breastfeeding and it limits a woman’s normal activities. In contrast, many American mothers are expected to entertain others—even during their hospital stay. Once they get home, this practice continues as they are often expected to entertain family and friends who come to see the baby.
  4. Functional assistance. In order for seclusion and mandated rest to occur, mothers must be relieved of their normal workload. In these cultures, women are provided with someone to take care of older children and perform their household duties. As in the colonial period in the United States, women often return to the homes of their family of origin to ensure that this type of assistance is available.
  5. Social recognition of her new role and status. In the cultures Stern and Kruckman studied, there was a great deal of personal attention given to the mother. In China and Nepal, very little attention is paid to the pregnancy; much more attention is focused on the mother after the baby is born. This has been described as “mothering the mother.” For example, the status of the new mother is recognized through social rituals and gifts. In Punjabi culture, there is the “stepping-out ceremony,” which includes ritual bathing and hair washing performed by the midwife, and a ceremonial meal prepared by a Brahmin. When the mother returns to her husband’s family, she returns with many gifts she has been given for herself and the baby. The following is a description of a postpartum ritual performed by the Chagga of Uganda. It differs quite a bit from what mothers in industrialized countries may experience. 

Three months after the birth of her child, the Chagga woman’s head is shaved and crowned with a bead tiara, she is robed in an ancient skin garment worked with beads, a staff such as the elders carry is put in her hand, and she emerges from her hut for her first public appearance with her baby. Proceeding slowly towards the market, they are greeted with songs such as are sung to warriors returning from battle. She and her baby have survived the weeks of danger. The child is no longer vulnerable, but a baby who has learned what love means, has smiled its first smiles, and is now ready to learn about the bright, loud world outside (Dunham, 1992; p. 148).

What American mothers experience

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Ken Tackett

By contrast, American mothers often find that people are more concerned about them before the birth. While a woman is pregnant, people may offer to help her carry things or to open doors or to ask how she is feeling. Friends will give her a baby shower, where she will receive emotional support and gifts for her baby. There are prenatal classes and prenatal checkups, and many people wanting to know about the details of her daily experience.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below….)

https://womenshealthtoday.blog/2017/07/30/how-cultures-protect-the-new-mother/amp/

We Need to Talk About the Baby Blues, by Stacy Hersher

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I have a confession to make: the first couple of weeks after my baby was born, I was unhappy. Sure, I had moments of pure joy, and I never wavered in my love for my daughter. But I was exhausted, in pain, and had no control of my emotions. I had the “baby blues” — and it was scary.

Between feeding my daughter, sleeping, and eating, I felt like I was reduced to a milk-producing machine. I wasn’t going outside, I couldn’t exercise, and it felt like there was no time to do anything but sleep, feed, and eat in order for us both to survive. Was this my life now? Had motherhood completely replaced everything else that I was? In low moments, I thought about how much easier life was before. I wondered if this parenting thing would ever get easier, and the weight of my new life was heavy.

The emotional roller coaster wasn’t just negative. I also felt an overwhelming love for my baby, my husband, my family, and my friends. I cried any time I thought or talked about the sacrifices my parents had made for me, or how wonderful a dad my husband already was, or how thankful I was for the friends who came by to cook, clean, or hold my baby.

Good and bad, the reality is I was crying upwards of 10 times a day. As someone who prides myself on being pretty level-headed, I wasn’t sure how to navigate these emotions and felt pretty lost and alone. I was hyperaware of my emotions but unable to explain them. And as much as my husband tried to help, there wasn’t much he could do. My heightened emotions were just a wave I needed to ride. Thankfully, because of a conversation I had with my sister-in-law Jessie, I wasn’t totally surprised that this was happening.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below)…

http://www.popsugar.com/moms/What-Baby-Blues-43143736?utm_source=com_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=com_newsletter_v3_02152017&em_recid=180811001&utm_content=placement_7_desc

Wireless Motherhood: When Social Media is the New Village, by Isa Down

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Hey, mamas, anyone else awake? I’m having a really tough time tonight with anxiety, and have no one to talk to.

I wrote that when my son was five-weeks-old. It was 3 a.m. He was sleeping soundly on my chest, and I remember wondering why I couldn’t just enjoy this moment with him. It was so quiet, even the crickets had stopped their incessant chirping. My son’s breaths whispered across my skin with each exhale: it was a completely pristine moment.

Yet there I sat, anxious and alone. There were so many unknowns, and in the middle of the night, as a new single mom, I had no one to talk to. Within moments, women from around the world were commenting that they were thinking of me, sending positive thoughts, hoping everything was okay, there to talk if I needed. They were awake too, facing their own struggles.

In those early weeks and months, I remember feeling more than once that social media was my lifeline. The harsh glare off my phone was a beacon of hope, there in the dark with my son cradled against me.

Anxiety is just one of several perinatal mood disorders (PMD) commonly experienced by women during and after pregnancy. Postpartum depression is the most renowned, but PMDs also include psychosis, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies, to name a few. An estimated 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression alone.

Despite their prevalence, women who experience these disorders can feel incredibly isolated. Depression, insomnia, and panic attacks do not fit the socially constructed mold of blissed-out new motherhood. This sets the stage for mothers to be riddled with guilt and shame for not being able to connect, or sleep, or leave the house. There were so many moments when I sat with friends, smiling and nodding, all the while wanting desperately to say: “I am so overwhelmed. I need help.” It’s hard to show the rawness of motherhood, because it still feels so taboo.

Perinatal mood disorders have been the dirty little secret of motherhood for far too long. It’s becoming easier to talk about, as celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore, and Kristen Bell come forward and share their experiences. Actress Hayden Panettiere’spersonal struggle was even mirrored in her character’s storyline on the TV show “Nashville” last year.

And that does help. Yet hearing that these seemingly perfect women have also struggled doesn’t necessarily make a mama feel less alienated as she watches the hours tick by in the night, alone and anxious. This is true largely because our society is highly autonomous. We prize individual triumph and the ability to succeed on your own above a group mentality. This mindset has its benefits, but also tends to alienate new mothers. In fact, this has become such a big issue that psychologists have wondered if postpartum depression is a misnomer, and should instead be called postpartum neglect.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

parent.co/wireless-motherhood-when-social-media-is-the-new-village/

Being Left Out Hurts: Moms, Stop ‘Social Engineering’, by Lisa Barr

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I heard a disturbing story recently from a friend, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It went something like this … the camp buses were leaving for an overnight camp in the Midwest, and one Mom somehow had access to get on one of the buses before departure. She literally managed to rope off (save) an entire section for eight 11-year-old girls. She stayed on the bus while the “Chosen 8” boarded and sat in their “designated” seats. Another girl, a new camper, got on the bus, who was the same age, and asked if she could join “those” girls. The Mom responded: “I’m sorry, but it’s reserved” and then she got off.

The clique had been formed and there was no room for “intruders.” (I’ll get to that Mom a little later…)

The new girl, let’s call her Sarah, had been given three simultaneous messages: 1. You are not invited. 2. You are not good enough. 3. This is “The Group” — and you are not part of it, so don’t even try.

One of the main reasons I started my blog GIRLilla Warfare ( www.girlillawarfare.com) was because of the overabundance of Middle School war stories that I had been hearing from so many moms. Same story, different players. And I hate to say this, but the root of this particular social evil, is usually (sadly) initiated by a group of Moms. One of our GW writers pointed out in another blog, that those Moms decide who is IN and who is OUT. It is political, and it is what we at GIRLilla Warfare call “Suburban Social Engineering” which ends up causing many children deep, unnecessary pain.

Don’t get me wrong. Many kids choose to be with whom they feel most comfortable, and that’s totally acceptable. It’s the piece in which the Moms not only helicopter but also patrol kids’ potential friendships that I’m focusing on here.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

How to Stop Yelling at Children Once and for All, by Jennifer Poindexter

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You are doing it again!

Yelling at your children over big things, little things, and all things in between.

But why?

Why do we parents feel the need to yell when our point isn’t getting across?

Why do we have to resort to screaming to get our kids’ attention?

The reality is—we don’t have to. We are making rash decisions in difficult moments that are teaching our children bad habits.

Janet Lehman, a veteran social worker who she specializes in child behavior issues says:

“When chronic screaming becomes the norm, children are also apt to think it’s okay for them to scream all the time, too. You’re teaching your kids that screaming is a suitable response when you’re frustrated or overwhelmed. It doesn’t teach anything positive, just that life is out of control—and emotionally, you’re out of control.”

Wow—that hits home!

Believe me, I am not judging.

I was (probably) the world’s worst about yelling when my kids did something wrong, wouldn’t listen, talk back, seemed defiant — the list could go on and on.

I was a chronic yeller.

But I had a terrible wake up call when I ended up in the middle of a feud that happened in my extended family. Though this person was totally out of line when making accusatory statements, one thing that was said to me was, “Well, you’re a horrible mother because I’ve heard you yell a lot!”

Ouch!

What could I say? “No, I’m not a horrible mother! I am just human”? But I did yell a lot!

That hit me right between the eyes, and I woke up. I decided from that day forward I was going to work on not yelling.

I was going to conquer this horrible habit I had developed.

Not because this person was wrongfully judging me, and I didn’t want it to happen again. (I mean, no one wants that, but you can’t please everyone either.)

But because I was and am a good mom, and I want a better relationship with my children than that!

So if you are in the same boat as I was, I want to share with you a few tips I used to stop yelling at my kids once and for all.

#1 Know What Sets You Off And Nip It

We all have pet peeves. We are human after all.

There are certain things that happen throughout a day that just grind your gears.

Inevitably, the ones we love most are going to find a few of those gears and start grinding away at them.

You need to start realizing what those things are.

The reason is because those ‘gears’ are what is going to trigger you losing your cool and raising your voice.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

afineparent.com/stop-yelling-at-kids/yelling-at-children.html

“What are you going to do with yourself?” On Answering that Curly Question, by Sarah Wilson

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‘What are you going to do with yourself once all the kids are at school?’ – Sounds like an innocent enough question and one that I’ve been asked rather frequently in recent times. Sometimes it’s a statement rather than a question, such as ‘You won’t know what to do with yourself!.’ I put this question in the same basket with other curly questions that people often encounter, such as ‘Are you still single?’ ‘When you are going to have kids?’, ‘Are you going to have more kids?’ and ‘Have you lost weight?’ But ‘You won’t know what to do with yourself’ has been said to me a few times recently, and not wishing to sound too defensive, I usually say something along the lines of ‘There are always plenty of things to do.’ Because that’s what I’ve found – even though two of my children are school age now, it’s still really quite busy. It’s perhaps not quite as intense as when they were little. It’s a bit cruisier and I have a bit more down time, however mornings before 9 o’clock are frantic, and afternoons after 3 o’clock are full. Though we don’t do a whole lot of after school activities, the engagements increase as they get older, as does the homework. I have a preschooler at home on Mondays, Fridays and Wednesday afternoons and I have a little down time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But as it so happens, my preschooler is about to start school in September at the ridiculously young and tender age of four and a quarter. I’m not too happy about it. In fact I think I’ll go and have a good cry into my coffee when she starts school, but I know that she will be fine, and I’ve taken the approach of when in Rome, do what the Romans do. She herself, can’t wait to go to school! Thankfully the curriculum involves a large component of free play in the first year.

If you’ve been a stay-at-home mum with children reaching school age, how have you found that question? I know that it’s probably said in jest, but sometimes that question does feel like a pressure. And there is a lot of pressure for mothers to get back into the workforce. I feel like it’s acceptable to be at home with children when they are preschoolers, but society expects you to get a job once they are school age. Yes I’d like to get back into the workforce in a part-time capacity, and of course it will help the old bank balance, but there are weeks that I wonder how that is going to operate in practice. My husband works twelve hour days. Being in a new country, the children have come down with one illness after the another in the last few weeks, and I wonder how I would manage this if my husband and I were both employed. There are also twelve weeks of holidays a year to think about.

(Follow the link below to read more of this article…)

What are you going to do with yourself?: On answering that curly question.

20 things to say to your daughter before she’s grown, by Jenna McCarthy

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I always wanted to have daughters—and I got them. I love every minute of it, from the tea parties and pedicures to what we affectionately (mostly) call the “hair wars” in our house. But I’d be lying if I said it was easy. From a very young age our girls are targeted with messed-up media messages (think “Thin is beautiful, and beautiful is everything, and if you want to be happy, you need these shoes!”) and exposed to all manner of temptations, online and otherwise. As a parent who can shape who they’ll become, there are many life lessons that I’d want to teach any child of mine. But there is also some specific advice for daughters. Here are 20 girl-centric things I want them to know.

1. Learn the word NO. Sure, I don’t like it one bit when you say it to me, but in the big, scary world out there you will be faced with endless tough choices. From boys to beers to inappropriate Instagram photos, potential trouble will lurk everywhere you go. You know that little voice you have inside, the one that tells you something doesn’t feel right? Listen to it. Respect it. And most importantly, use it to say NO. It won’t be easy a lot of the time, but I assure you, you’ll almost always be glad you did.

2. Spend more time worrying about how beautiful you are inside than outside. It’s fine to take pride in your appearance and want to be pretty. But if how you look is all you care about, you’ll pay for it down the road. Yes, you are beautiful—magnificently, achingly so—but never forget that you didn’t do anything to create or even deserve that. True beauty comes from being kind and thoughtful and compassionate. If you’re ugly on the inside, you’re ugly. Period.

3. Stuff won’t make you happy. Oh, in the moment—when you’re pining for that headband/skateboard/Fijit Friend/designer purse—you will truly, madly, passionately believe that they will. But things break. We lose them. They run out. They go out of style. They become uncool(the worst!). Happiness comes from appreciating the things you do have, not acquiring more.

4. Some girls are mean girls. Be extremely careful when you choose your friends. At the risk of throwing our entire gender under the bus, girls can be nasty and petty and jealous and cruel. Some of them will lie to you or pretend to be your friend or stab you in the back, and it will hurt like hell every single time. If you’re totally unprepared for it, it will crush you even more.

5. Girlfriends will save your life. Yes, girls can be awful, so when you find a loyal, true friend, hold onto her for dear life, and do your best to be loyal and true right back. Boys will come and go, but a good girlfriend will be your steady through the peaks, the valleys and everything in between.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.today.com/parents/advice-daughter-her-mom-I532617?cid=eml_tpp_20160404

International Women’s Day… so important for children of both genders too! By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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March 8th is International Women’s Day.  Here at “The Forever Years” we feel it is important to have a post acknowledging this special day, as the lives of women children are so closely linked.

The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. 

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International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.  On this day we honour and celebrate the progress of women in the past, but also look towards the future and examine how things can be further improved for women (and the children they care for) around the globe.

Various women, including political, community, and business leaders, as well as leading educators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and television personalities, are usually invited to speak at various events on the day. Such events may include seminars, conferences, luncheons, dinners or breakfasts. The messages given at these events often focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities.  Many students in schools and other educational settings participate in special lessons, debates or presentations about the importance of women in society, their influence, and issues that affect them.

Much progress has been made to protect and promote women’s rights in recent times. However, nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men, according to the UN. The majority of the world’s 1.3 billion absolute poor are women. On average, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work. Women also continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women worldwide.

The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York.  The day has since become recognised internationally and is also the focus of annual United Nations Conferences, addressing issues which affect women (and, so very often, their off spring).  A recent report  in the USA found that 80.6% of single parents are women and this is thought to be similar across the globe.  With the improvement in the situation of women and a focus on this by both male and female there is, by definition, also an improvement in the lives of all children, both boys and girls.

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International Men’s Day is also celebrated on November 19 each year.

Related Links:

http://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

http://www2.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/international-womens-day

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/international-womens-day

 

The Love of a Mother and Her 3 Year-old Daughter, who Were Attacked With Acid by Their Husband/Father

Similar incidents to this happened in Vietnam when I lived there… one by a boy who was rejected by a girl (and then threw acid in her face) and one by a “loan shark” who threw acid over a young baby when his mother was unable to repay her debts. Such incidents, anywhere in the world, are shameful, particularly when the victims are frequently young women and children. A worthy charity to support, as this kind of violence, and it’s life long scars, is not often spoken about.

There is an organization to help! If you want to help, please check into ASTI (Acid Survivors Trust International).  They seem to be one of the few charities dealing with this.  Please follow the link below to their website…

http://www.acidviolence.org/

Kindness Blog

Somayeh Mehri (29) and Rana Afghanipour (3) are a mother and daughter living in Bam, southern Iran.

They were attacked with acid by Somayeh’s husband Amir.

Somayeh Mehri (29) with her daughter Rana Afghanipour Somayeh Mehri (29) and her daughter Rana Afghanipour (3) give each other a kiss. Since their disfigurement in an acid attack, they say, others don’t like to kiss them.

Somayeh had frequently been beaten and locked up by her husband, and finally found the courage to ask for a divorce. Amir warned her that if she persisted in her attempts to leave him, she would not live out life with the face she had.

One night in June 2011, he poured acid on Somayeh and Rana as they slept. Somayeh’s and Rana’s faces, hands, and, in places, their bodies were severely burned. Somayeh was blinded, and Rana lost one of her eyes.

Somayeh Mehri (29) and Rana Afghanipour

Somayeh’s father sold his land in order to raise money to pay…

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A Book Review: ‘Be the Best Mom You Can Be: A Guide to Raising Whole Children in a Broken Generation’

Review by Sarah Wilson

Be the Best Mom You Can Be

If you are like most moms (including me!) you probably feel stress and insecurity facing the challenges of being a mom in the twenty-first century.”~from the book “Be the Best Mom You Can Be: A Practical Guide to Raising Whole Children in a Broken Generation”

There are many, many parenting books available today. So many, that it can sometimes be rather overwhelming for parents. In fact, this parenting game is a bit like wading through a bog of advice. But for the most part I do enjoy reading parenting books. I like reading about the experiences of others, and I like applying snippets of advice from the parenting book gems that I read. And ‘Be the Best Mom You Can Be’ is a gem of a book. It’s not preachy or condescending like some parenting books can be. And it doesn’t offer a one size fits all approach…

View original post 333 more words