What if you come from rural Mexico where your mother gave birth to you with a midwife and breastfeeding was so obvious and commonplace you never even thought about it…and you find yourself in a culture where births are in high-tech hospitals and babies are whisked away from you to be washed, eye-dropped, and wrapped like a Christmas gift…
What if you grew up in Japan where you and your parents shared the same bed and later the same room, as did everyone else you knew…and you find yourself in a country where the newspapers are full of articles about the dangers of sharing a bed, or you find yourself in a baby group where parents talk in shrill tones about why their baby STILL cries itself to sleep in another room...
What if you grew up in the U.S. where children are assumed to be special individuals with unique gifts just waiting to be discovered…and you find yourself in a place where children are expected to downplay their talents, and if at all, to practice them in the background and NOT shine within the group...
What if you grew up in a Middle Eastern Neighborhood where modesty and family loyalty were defining values…and you find yourself raising teenagers in a place where teen sex, alcohol, drugs and gang violence is commonplace...
Motherlands in June
Articles have been making the rounds recently about a truly effective government program, something relatively inexpensive, symbolic and very powerful: the Finnish government's baby gift box. "For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. . . . It's a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it's designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they're from, an equal start in life. The maternity package - a gift from the government - is available to all expectant mothers [who enter pre-natal care in the first trimester]." go to BBC
Box contents have neutral colors, no garish Superman or neon My Little Pony logos. It includes blanket, mattress, sleeping bag, snow suit (sized according to season of birth), clothes, bra pads, shampoo, mittens, book, teething toys, and even condoms! Pointedly, the contents have altered over the years to match child- and environment-friendly scientific research. Cloth diapers have now replaced disposables, bottles and pacifiers (dummies) are no longer included, to encourage breastfeeding. The box currently comes with the subtle message that babies should sleep there rather than in bed with parents, but that will probably go the way of disposable diapers, too.
Challenge of raising children abroad
We often read articles in English encouraging parents to adhere strongly to their own beliefs and style of parenting. Things such as this from Time: "Everyone wants to be a good parent, to give their children the best education, the best upbringing and all the support they need to grow and mature into productive and confident adults. That's a lot of pressure for mom and dad, and not all of it comes from within. Who hasn't worried about what the neighbors think of your chaotic attempt to get everyone out the door in the morning with homework and lunch in tow, or how teachers and other parents might judge the brands of clothing or food you buy?" For parents raising children in another culture, this is often emotionally and psychologically challenging. The longer you live in a foreign culture, the more you begin to doubt yourself and your particular way of doing things. Unless you surround yourself with others who share your common values, this can get very lonely. Yet if you surround yourself with others who share your common values, you often live in an expatriate bubble and miss out on learning new points of view.
Gardening for happiness amongst immigrants
by Patricia Leigh Brown
"Like Scotch broom and dandelions, despair can be invasive. This is why, every Monday, Lee Lee, a Hmong refugee, puts on her sun hat and flip-flops, grabs the hoe handmade by her father and brother in Laos and heads to the Hmong Village Community Garden here, where she tends rows of purple lemon grass, bitter melon and medicinal herbs along with other Hmong women. ...
"The thinking of community leaders and health professionals is that gardens can help foster resiliency and a sense of purpose for refugees, especially older ones, who are often isolated by language and poverty and experiencing depression and post-traumatic stress. Immigrant families often struggle to meet insurance co-payments, and culturally attuned therapists are in short supply." the New York Times
Ultrasound is 100 decibels for fetus
by Eugenie Samuel
"Ultrasound examinations during pregnancy expose the fetus to a sound as loud as that made by a subway train coming into a station, say US researchers. But doctors do not think the experience causes a baby any lasting harm. . . . Neither adults nor fetuses can hear ultrasound waves because they vibrate at too high a frequency for our ears to detect them. But James Greenleaf, Paul Ogburn and Mostafa Fatemi of the Mayo Foundation in Rochester, Minnesota, investigated the possibility that ultrasound could cause secondary vibrations in a woman's uterus. . . . Ultrasound machines generate sound waves in pulses lasting less than one ten thousandth of a second. Pulses are used because a continuous soundwave could generate too much heat in the tissue being examined. The Mayo team predicted that the pulsing would translate into a "tapping" effect." go to New Scientist
Mandarin and English bilingualism
by Hao Mama
"Early on, I bought and downloaded as many Chinese songs as I could, as I was (and still am) convinced that music is one of the surest and fastest ways for children to learn language. Now that my two children are comfortably fluent in Mandarin, I have tried to wean them off the CDs, which has worked without effort for my seven-year-old but not so well for my three-year-old." go to Hao Mama
Anthropology on the difference between Illness and Disease
"In the Western World, people usually do not make a distinction between illness and disease. These two terms seem to mean essentially the same thing and are often used interchangeably. However, it is important to define illness and disease differently when considering some non-western cultural traditions. Disease is an objectively measurable pathological condition of the body. Tooth decay, measles, or a broken bone are examples. In contrast, illness is a feeling of not being normal and healthy. Illness may, in fact, be due to a disease. However, it may also be due to a feeling of psychological or spiritual imbalance. By definition, perceptions of illness are highly culture related while disease usually is not."go to Medical Anthropology Palamar
Refugees and US health care
"When refugees come to his office, Waktola said he takes at least 30 minutes with each one, and tries to understand their mental health and lifestyle along with their physical health. Sometimes, he said, they have quietly suffered a traumatic, difficult life. . . . This kind of forced displacement can make refugees particularly vulnerable to mental illness, Burke said. And their treatment is further complicated by distrust in pharmacies, doctors and a system that could be very different than what they were accustomed to back home."
"We could do a lot more to understand the challenges they go through," Burke said. "And for them to understand how our system works would go a long way."" see Kaiser Health News article
Benefits of Natural birth - for mother
"1.Quick recovery -The recovery from a natural vaginal birth is almost immediate. Generally, a mother can stand up and care for herself and her baby without assistance. Within days she can be attending to her family, taking care of other responsibilities and driving as usual. 2. Shorter hospital stays - If the birth was in a hospital, the mother can be discharged soon after the birth. This has financial benefits. 3. Vaginal births are cost-effective. 4. After a successful vaginal birth mothers feel empowered emotionally and enjoy a sense of accomplishment. 5. Vaginal birth has lower maternal mortality rates than caesarean birth. 6. There is no risk of complications in future births due to previous surgical damage. 7. No risk of post-operative infections or complications." Pregnancy and Giving Birth