Black Woman and Child is in the process of developing a pre-natal program for women who are 12 weeks or further along in their pregnancies. We need your input! Did YOU ever attend a pre-natal program? What did you think or feel about it? Did the program help to prepare you for childbirth and parenting? Did it have an impact on the kind of parent that you are today? After the program, did you have any additional contact, bonds, with the other parents who participated? Please post your comments here or send to email@example.com. Your feedback is greatly appreciated so thank you in advance!
Christmas, Kwanzaa or your own tradition…?
We want to know. We are looking for families to share their holiday traditions to be included in an article for the Holiday edition of Black Woman and Child Magazine. Deadline: October 31, 2008.
Post your comments here OR email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Last night I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at The Scarborough Hospital (Grace Campus). The discussion was organized by the Family Advisory Council on Maternal and Infant Care. My role as a member of the Advisory Council was to speak on the valuable role that choice plays in improving outcomes in pregnancy and birth care.
Overall, I think the presentation went very well! I was very pleased with the points that I chose to raise, as well as the audience response. The bad news is that my digital recorder failed on me (or maybe I failed on it) — so was not able to present My First Podcast (as I’d hoped). Well, maybe next time. Instead, I’ve listed some of my notes here of the main points that I put forward in my presentation. Your feedback and comments are always appreciated.
- What solidified my interest in Family-Centered Care (FCC) is what I call my two-track prenatal experience
- RELATIONSHIP WITH PHYSICIAN: My physician and I had a good relationship prior to my pregnancy
- She was open and kept me informed on all matters, illnesses, checkups, etc.
- Bonus: We also had a shared cultural background so she understood my issues and perspective, jokes i.e. “I’m wearing my Sunday baggie.”
- My pregnancy changed the Code of Conduct, script, choreography of visits
- I lacked an understanding of this new “prenatal culture” — i.e., concept of “trying to get pregnant” and question of “are you keeping it?”
- Suddenly I was not qualified to participate in my own care
- Even shared cultural background wasn’t enough to bridge the gap (the culture of prenatal care trumped our previous relationship)
- Handouts were not culturally relevant
- Ongoing issues around diet, midwifery, homebirth, birthplan, sick vs. healthy attitude, etc.
- My husband and I would joke about what government secrets were lurking in my med file (information not shared, results of tests not forthcoming)
- Increased tension; not enough information provided to make informed choices and doctor seemed offended by my questions
- Issue of control of my care at a time when I was “losing” control of my bodily function — control of any kind was very important to me
- Parted ways with physician over issue of HIV Test (physician made bad judgement call when I refused an HIV Test that I believed was optional)
- MIDWIVES: I transitioned my care into that of midwives
- I was treated with respect
- I was allowed and encouraged to participate in my care
- Weighed self, tested own urine and reported results to midwives — medical file always open on the desk, I could see and comment on the comments
- Debated pros and cons of all tests, final choice always mine
- Birth plan was encouraged, discussed and respected
- I didn’t always get my own way but discussion helped me to understand why not
- My culture was respected
- BLACK WOMAN AND CHILD: At that time, I felt that mothers of any cultural difference or having any difference in perspective could not get fair treatment or choice in a physician-run hospital system
- As a result, I began publishing a magazine to promote and validate the cultural perspectives of Black women around the world
- I held fast to the ideology that “smart,” healthy, empowered women gave birth at home with midwives and only “sick,” scared women gave birth in hospitals with physicians
- home birth = choice and hospital births = challenges
- Working with the magazine, I had an opportunity to speak to many different kinds of women
- Learned that some women were having healthy, safe, empowered and successful births in hospitals too — what made the difference was the level of involvement or choice
- I learned that it doesn’t have to be polar opposites
- Home birth is not for everyone but having choice can empower birth outcomes for families even in a hospital
- NEW VIEWS: Hospitals like TSH are promoting that they are open to Family-Centered Care
- Women and their families can benefit from having options, benefits also roll over to staff and overall view of hospital
- Example: a birth plan helps to address issues and opens dialogue between pregnant mothers and caregivers
- A birthplan also takes pressure off staff: the hospital is note solely responsible for successful birth outcomes
- Example: Cultural ideals can be good ideas that staff can learn and pass on to other patients
- Culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum
- We all want to belong; not check our culture at the hospital door
- In childbirth, we may be at our most vulnerable but mothers are not monsters — we can actually be reasonable
- Example: I like to eat barley porridge right after giving birth. I don’t expect to get that in the hospital cafeteria BUT is the hospital open to having a family member bring some for me? Let’s work together.
- When a mother is relaxed, happy and confident, we get better outcomes, better births, less snapping at nurses and bad attitudes
- The input of relatives is validated, helps mother, speeds healing
- The birth experience, whether hospital or home, set the tone for future attitudes about childbearing and child-raising
- I am on Baby Number Four, so I know that there’s some truth to this
Nicole Osbourne James
Greetings everyone: We would to inform those interested in learning Swahili (East African) language for children from JK – Grade 8. This program is facilitated through the Toronto District School Board along with the Keyan Ontario Association. The program cost only $20 per student and runs from September to June, it includes instruction and materials. If you are interested, please email email@example.com or call Paul or Nicole at 416-689-2922. The registration date is Saturday September 27th from 9:30am – 12 noon. We need at least 20 students to register so let us know your interest as soon as possible.
Where: Dr. Marion Hilliard Sr Public School
Proposed Time: 9:30am – 12noon
Cost: $20 (covers full year of program from September to June)
CNN will premier a series, ‘Black in America with Soledad O’Brien’
Wednesday July 23 at 9pm – Black Women and Families
Thursday July 24 at 9pm – Plight of the Black Man in America.
I’ve heard it said that you should watch it with your children (or record it, if they have to be in bed!). It might make a good showing and discussion piece for a youth group. We may not all be American but there are sure to be commonalities that affect us all. I’ll be back on the blog to let you know my thoughts after the series. I hope you also do the same. Let’s keep the lines of communication open. Visit the site too, it’s powerful.
Thank you to all of you who came out last Saturday to support What’s Up Down There at the Women’s Health Matters forum and expo. Can I tell you that the room was PACKED? It was thrilling to see so many sistahs ready to show and prove that, as Black women, we have our own way of dealing with health issues and our own culture around the discussion itself.
The only drawback was that we clearly did not have enough time. Half an hour is NOT long enough for us to get a true meeting of the minds going on. There was a lot of interest in having us come back to the forum for more time next year. If you would like to have the opportunity to connect again with Black Woman and Child at this forum, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And there’s more on the horizon for What’s Up Down There so stay tuned. Get in touch with us – you can send us an email at email@example.com if you are not already on our mailing list.
And a special thank you to Jacquie Cohen for the pictures:
This morning (at 6:30AM while the rest of the household sleeps), I am up working on my presentation for What’s Up Down There at the Women’s Health Matters forum next Saturday (January 19 at 12 noon, shameless plug, OK sue me). Anyway, I decided to look up the spelling of the word “va-jay-jay” since one woman brought it up in our discussion group, saying she heard it on Oprah and Grey’s Anatomy. Fair enough. Having no idea what I was getting myself into, I dutifully typed it into Google…and there the fun begins!
ALL kinds of definitions, blog postings and comments are on the web about what seems to be a very offensive term. People everywhere are riled up about the issue, which seems to be that instead of using the word “vagina” on a show that is obviously for adults, TV executives have chosen to create yet another nickname for fear that viewers may be offended or turned off by the word “vagina.” Wow, even in this day and age, nothing offends like a woman’s private parts.
I found it interesting because our whole discussion around What’s Up Down There was based on the fact that a majority of African women, Black women, don’t use the word vagina but we have other names for it that are often created out of our shame, our mother’s reluctance to talk about sex or anything having to do with sex. But my assumption was that while we were mired in all this drama, White women were out there, free-wheeling and dealing, using the word “vagina” with all the comfort and freedom of an unoppressed people with no barriers, sexual or otherwise, in their perfect shampoo, hair-tossing world. It was surprising to learn that even in that world, there are hurdles to overcome when it comes to talking about our…er…um…(cough) vaginas.
Here are some recommended readings. I suggest, if you have a chance, look these over before you join us on Saturday (at 12 noon…oops, there I go again with the shameless plugs). If by some unfortunate incident (such as, you live on another continent) you can’t make it on Saturday, TALK ABOUT THIS with your friends, your mother, your daughter, somebody! Just talking about anything can make such a difference in the way we move in the world.
(By the way, if you want a FREE PASS to the forum, visit www.blackwomanandchild.com — OK, I promise, that’s the LAST one…well, for this post anyway).
- What Did You Call It? (NY Times, October 28, 2007)
- Term of Endearment: The New V Word (Toronto Star, November 1, 2007)
- Women and Words: Va-jay-jay – the latest term (Dollymix TV – see the video and scroll past the Google ads to continue the article)
- Word Boycott: Vajayjay (Jane Austen Junior blog) – “By condoning the use of the word “vajayjay”, we somehow imply that vaginas are dirty and offensive and shouldn’t be discussed in public.”
- Hooray for Vajayjay! (The Huffington Post) – “Vagina is a tough word that refuses to roll easily off the tongue. It has such a sense of taboo that nobody feels totally comfortable talking about it – not even women, but especially men.”
“The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action has released the theme for next year’s World Breastfeeding Week celebrations. The theme “Mother Support: Going for the Gold” coincides with next years landmark Summer Olympics in Beijing, and was designed to direct focus on the need to support mothers in achieving the gold standard of infant feeding practices: exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by appropriate complementary foods and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated October 1-7 in Canada, and August 1-7 in the rest of the world.”
>> Sisters, let’s get on board with our own celebrations for World Breastfeeding Week. To be honest, I’m starting to feel a little funny about being the ONLY Black woman out at some of these events. If we’d feel more comfortable doing our own thing, by all means let’s do our own thing. Are any sisters out there organizing events for WBW? Let us know what you’ve been doing. Send some pictures!
I have to say I can really appreciate the theme. When I was a new mother just learning how to breastfeed, it really DID seem like an Olympic sport and, let me tell you, I was FAR from winning any medals! At least that’s how I felt anyway. But I persevered…if my son could remember, I’m sure he would be telling some pitiful stories about me. Yes, I stuck it out and now I am a breastfeeding guru with healthy children to prove it. Yes, when you see that woman nursing a baby on the park bench, in the shopping mall, in line at the grocery store, in church (before “security” escorted me out — no food or drink in the sanctuary, I’ve been told!), wherever…when you see her, come on over and say hi because it might be me. Then again, it might be somebody else but say hi anyway.
Find out more about WBW at www.infactcanada.ca.
Wow! I am sitting in the lab at Magazines Canada Web Weekend, learning different ways to improve the World Wide Web Experience for our Black Woman and Child readers. I just made this blog! This is AMAZING. I am getting so many good ideas here. And sometimes it is great to know that my brain can actually get charged up theses days by something outside of breakfast, breastmilk, diapers, lost mittens and homework. Whoo hoo! Anyway, I’d better wrap this up or the presenter will think I’m not paying attention. In the next few weeks, I hope you check out our website at www.blackwomanandchild.com so you can see all that I’ve taken in this weekend. Peace!