The Fed is Best Onesie Drive – Now til May 13, 2017

I have previously blogged (click here and here) about the importance of a baby being fed….whether they are breastfed, bottle fed with pumped milk or formula, or a combination thereof–what matters is they are adequately fed. Period.

Partly because my focus has been on other things and also because it’s been over 11 years since I had my breastfeeding challenges, I haven’t blogged or even read any blog posts or articles on breastfeeding or the whole Breast is Best philosophy since, let’s see, two years ago (April 18, 2015 to be exact).  A couple of days ago, The Fed is Best Foundation reached out to me to see if I would be willing to blog about their fundraiser.  I told them I would be happy to, since the information they have to share is of extreme importance, and my mission is to help educate new mothers and their families to help reduce the risk of a postpartum mood disorder from occurring.

The Fed Is Best Foundation is a 501(c)(3) registered not-for-profit dedicated to the education and advocacy of safe infant feeding. The foundation believes no baby should ever go hungry and no mother should ever feel shamed for whatever feeding option best suits her situation, in order to prevent complications to babies that have become too common in today’s “Breast is Best” world. You can prevent such complications–and even tragic circumstances–with knowledge and support, which is what the foundation seeks to provide.

To help raise funds to support the foundation’s important work, it is hosting a Onesie Drive from now until May 13th, in which you can purchase a featured onesie at a special price!

Click here for more details about the drive on Facebook. Or click here for a direct link to the booster to order your onesie(s) today.  There will be a Photo Contest in June for all the adorable babies rocking Fed Is Best swag, so start thinking up poses for your precious baby!

If you hadn’t done so previously, please go over to the Fed is Best website to check out its links that provide:

1. The details of the personal experience of The Fed is Best co-founder Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, M.D. and her story as reflected in her letter to doctors and parents about the dangers of insufficient exclusive breastfeeding.
2. Helpful resources for parents, which I wish I had had access to when I was trying to breastfeed and suffered so many challenges that I’m sure contributed toward the postpartum depression I experienced.
3. An online petition to urge policymakers like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC and Surgeon General–in addition to hospitals and doctors– to support and educate mothers and their families on safe, clinically-effective infant feeding protocols, and to preventing infant starvation as a result of current well-intended but rigid breastfeeding protocols.  The petition page contains a video about newborn dehydration and how to avoid disastrous consequences.
4. The Fed is Best in the news (links to articles)

5. About The Fed is Best: mission, co-founders and advocates and advisors

Thank you in advance for your support of this worthy cause!

Sounds of Silence 9th Annual Run/Walk – April 29, 2017

I’m late in posting this…nowadays it’s just so easy to lose track of time!

Join the Sounds of Silence, Friends of the Postpartum Resource Center of New York’s 9th annual run/walk in memory and celebration of Lisa Mary Reilly and help raise funds in the effort to increase awareness of perinatal mood disorders, such as postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum OCD, and postpartum psychosis.   Not only is this for an excellent cause, it will be a nice opportunity to race (or walk) a beautiful 5K boardwalk along the Atlantic Ocean.

This annual fundraiser was started back in 2009 by sisters Erin Mascaro and Lisa Reilly. It was Lisa’s experience with PPD after the birth of her daughter–an experience so deeply painful and full of suffering (a suffering that many others like her feel forced to endure in silence) that was witnessed by Erin and other loved ones–that motivated Erin and Lisa to break the silence of PPD with the Sounds of Silence annual run/walk .

Please help spread the word about this fundraiser by blogging or sharing the flyer on Facebook/Twitter.

Sponsors Needed:  They are looking for sponsors, so companies looking for opportunities to support a wonderful cause that benefits mothers and their families should seriously consider this opportunity!  Click here for more info.

Date:  Saturday, April 29, 2017

Time:  Registration from 8:00-9:00; race/walk begins at 9:30 AM.  There will be a Kids Fun Run, Raffles, Food and more.

Place:   Jones Beach State Park, Wantagh, Long Island (Field 5)

Registration:  $25 (adults); $15 (ages 11-18); $5 (ages 10 and under); register here.

Virtual Participation:  For those of you who can’t make it in person, you can participate virtually by registering via this link.

Other Race Details:  The top female and male runners, plus top fundraiser, will receive awards.  Back in 2009, I was one of the two top fundraisers, bringing in over $1,000 (as an individual).

For More Information, please click here or here.

All proceeds will go towards supporting the important services the Postpartum Resource Center of New York, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (tax ID #11-3449880), provides to new mothers and their families.  To learn more about its services, go to:  http://postpartumny.org.

Best Beginnings Out of the Blue Launch

Earlier today I was thrilled when I saw on my Facebook timeline this video of the Duchess of Cambridge announcing the Best Beginnings Out of the Blue launch.  Best Beginnings is a charitable organization created to ensure the best start to life for families in the UK by providing support to expectant and new parents, training healthcare professionals, educating the public and working with the government to effect change.  Best Beginnings was founded by Alison Baum in 2006.  To help ensure the best start to life for children, it is essential for mothers to be well.  But postpartum mood disorders rear their ugly heads in as many as one in five new mothers, and for all too many mothers they are blindsided by these illnesses and don’t know that what they’re experiencing is common and treatable. The consequences can be tragic for the entire family in extreme cases, but in all cases are a negative impact to the new mother and baby.

Out of the Blue is a series of online videos about postpartum mental health conditions, such as postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety, postpartum traumatic stress disorder (postpartum PTSD), postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (Postpartum OCD) and fathers who suffer from PPD.  I hope they add a video about postpartum psychosis as well, as that severe condition can have tragic consequences for the mother and/or baby.

I’ve had much respect for the Duke of Cambridge (can’t get used to calling Prince William this) and Prince Henry of Wales, who reminds me so much of his mother Princess Diana, whose death absolutely crushed me.  But now I have a new respect for the Duchess, not just for her involvement with Best Beginnings, which I’m sure her personal experience having children played a very large part in motivating her, but for her involvement with William and Harry in Heads Together, a not-for-profit whose mission is to end stigma surrounding mental health.  Read more about how Prince Harry became a mental health advocate here (this sentence added on 4/17/17).

Looking from across the pond, I heave a sigh of envy that the UK has such a caring trio of royals whose actions reflect the kind of leadership we so desperately need but lack here in the U.S.  Instead, here we are faced with a delusional, lying, narcissistic, misogynist serving as President and surrounded by a self serving, rich, conflict-ridden administration who could care less about the health and well being of women…..after all, look at the record of the extreme right pushing their pro-life/anti-woman agenda.  SMH

Defiant Girl vs Bull

I wanted to post my memorable adventure into downtown Manhattan yesterday afternoon, but wanted to stick with my determination to avoid being political on this blog. But since I’m such a lover of analogies, it just dawned on me how I could work my experience (my visit with the Defiant Girl statue, also known as “Fearless Girl,” facing off with the Charging Bull at Bowling Green) into my blog.  So, here I am posting the experience of the adventure…with a twist.

I took the PATH train to the World Trade Center. This is only the 2nd time I’ve taken the PATH there since 9/11. I used to take the PATH there every day back when I used to work at 7 WTC.  The first time I took the PATH there post-9/11, the Oculus wasn’t even built.  It’s an amazing architectural feat!

I took the subway to Wall Street and walked over to check out the Defiant Girl statue and needless to say there were throng of tourists present on day 2, post debut.  Thank you, State Street (firm that manages $2.5 trillion in assets) for this statue!  I sincerely hope they will make this a permanent fixture rather than taking it away in a week or month!  State Street chose the perfect time–International Women’s Day– to put the Defiant Girl statue there.  And yes, I did take the day off for #ADayWithoutAwoman but I also took today (Thur) and tomorrow off for a long-overdue vacation. The statue was actually, upon further reading about this statue, a joint effort of State Street and the McCann New York advertising agency.  What a clever marketing effort to not just draw attention to the index fund giant’s effort to get more women into executive positions/board roles but also to the anniversary of the launch of an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks companies that have higher levels of gender diversity in their leadership!  The plaque in front of the girl says “SHE makes a difference,” which cleverly not only represents the girl but also the ticker for the ETF.  I was surprised to learn that State Street is has warned the 3500 public companies in which it invests that it will vote their share against them if the directors of these firms do not make tangible progress toward adding women to their boards.

It was wonderful to see so many young children and families taking pictures of/with the statue. The statue of the girl faces the bull with her hands on her hips and a defiant expression on her face.  I overheard parents explaining to their children what the statue represents. This girl is standing in defiance against the bull, a symbol of not just the market (bull vs bear) but of an industry traditionally dominated by men.  And I thought to myself “This.” Raising a future generation of girls who will be fearless when faced with challenges in women’s rights (e.g., employment, reproductive rights, etc.).  I felt a surge of optimism despite what’s going on under the current Presidency (sorry, I had to mention this because it’s relevant to what I’m writing about). Despite the cold wind as the sun set, I stood there for about an hour, just taking in people’s reactions to the statue.  I will not forget this experience.

Here’s one of many pictures I took of the statue, and she happens to be wearing a pussyhat. I also took a picture of the girl facing off with the bull, which was not an easy thing to do given the number of tourists crowded around both statues and in between, but I managed to get this shot when someone yelled out for everyone to clear the area so pictures could be taken.

Photo credit: Ivy Shih Leung at 5:00 pm, March 8, 2017, International Women’s Day

Photo credit: Ivy Shih Leung at 5:30 pm, March 8, 2017, International Women’s Day

Here’s where my analogy comes in.

If you are fighting postpartum depression (PPD), think of yourself as the girl–with that look of defiance on her face and with hands on hips–and the PPD as the bull.  Tell it to back the hell off.  *It* can be the PPD itself, stigma associated with it, voices in your head that cause you to feel ashamed for not enjoying your motherhood due to this illness, and/or doctors who tell you to *buck up* or treat you with poor bedside manner.  YOU CAN DO IT.  There are resources and caring people around you who can help. It is not shameful to ask for help. It is not shameful to be sick. It is not shameful to have to take medication (I did). It is not shameful to be unable to feel the joy you thought you would feel after the birth of your baby. PPD is an illness that needs to be treated the same way diabetes or any other illness needs to be treated.  

Photo credit: Sarah Kimball who actually knit the hat (taken around 6:30 pm, March 8, 2017, International Women’s Day)

I also wanted to mention that my primary reason for visiting Bowling Green wasn’t even to see the statue (plans were made last week re: pussyhat on the bull but the statue wasn’t put up until 2 days ago, March 7th) but to be present for the pussyhatting of the Charging Bull.  Yes, you heard right. My friend, Sarah Kimball, spent the last couple of weeks knitting a hat just for the bull.  And her goal was to put it on the bull on International Women’s Day.  Here’s a pic of the bull. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw this (or any other picture taken of it last night) somewhere else online or more ideally in a newspaper, like the NY Times. Brava, Sarah Kimball, for your awesome handiwork, a historic moment that I wish had been captured by a news outlet. But the picture is slowing making its way across the Internet, as it’s been shared via Facebook and Twitter. And now with this blog post.

Tri-State Area Resources for New Mothers and Professionals Who Care for Them

I will be adding to this post as I think of other resources…

Postpartum Support International (PSI)

I’ve been a member of PSI since 2006 and have met many wonderful, dedicated and caring social workers, therapists, peer-to-peer support group leaders, etc. at its conferences over the years.  The PSI website, as I’ve mentioned in numerous previous posts, provides a listing of resources by state. There is also a warm line for those who need telephone support.

I’m happy to mention that more and more PSI chapters are forming. For example, in the tri-state area the PSI-CT chapter just recently formed https://psictchapter.com/ and NJ is in the process of forming a PSI-NJ chapter.  Click here for the article  published on February 20th that highlights the purpose of the PSI-CT chapter.  The PSI-NJ chapter is in the early stages of development, but the officers are now in place and ramping up plans with monthly calls to establish committees. The chapter has a Facebook page and a website is in the works as well.

If you would like to get involved with either chapter, please let me know and I can put you in touch with them.

Maternal Mental Healthcare Centers

When it comes to mothers’ centers, there are 2 on my mind in New York City:

Seleni Institute
The Motherhood Center of New York

I will be adding NJ and CT ones in the next few days.

Workshops for Professionals, Peer Support Group Leaders, and Advocates

The Partnership for Maternal & Child Health of Northern New Jersey will be hosting training events featuring Cheryl Tatano Beck, DNSc, CNM, FAAN, Distinguished Professor at the University of Connecticut, School of Nursing.

Click here for more information about the workshop scheduled for April 26th in New Providence.
Click here for information about the workshop scheduled for April 27th in Englewood.

The target audience for these workshops includes physicians, nurses, social workers and others (like peer-to-peer support group leaders) working with perinatal women.  Advocates and others concerned about maternal mental health (like me) are also welcome to sign up.

I will be sure to post information about events intended for new mothers and for those who are dedicating their lives in helping new mothers.

 

 

Hush, Baby, Don’t You Cry

With my temporary reprieve from Facebook (which only lasted, er, 5 days in which I deactivated my account for the first time ever) and my angst over the election simmering down just a tad, as I watch folks dropping from the T administration…..first Flynn resigns and now it looks like KellyAnn is sidelined (I hope permanently), I think I have it in me now to come up with a fresh blog post!  It’s also great to hear about Simon & Schuster dropping Milo’s book deal.  For a while, the toxicity of this administration was making me hit an all-time low and I feared I was on the verge of depression for the first time since my postpartum depression (PPD) battle in 2005.

A couple of days ago, I saw a video pop up on my timeline of babies being calmed by this device called the Babocush that seems to have an incredibly sedating effect on babies who are colicky.  You see one baby after another crying hysterically, who after being gently strapped tummy down on this soft, diagonal and vibrating (to mimic being in mama’s moving belly) contraption, they stop crying.  I discuss the very interesting fourth trimester and why some babies, especially the ones who aren’t full-term babies and hence fully developed and with a higher birth weight, need that extra few more weeks developing here and here.

Here’s the video:


This amazing, calming effect instantly reminded me of Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5S’s I blogged about here.

And while we’re on the topic of calming crying babies, I’ve had the tab open to the article “Singing to Babies Calms Them Longer Than Talking” for a few months hoping that I would one day find the time and energy to blog about it.  This article is about–and I’m sure it’s not new news to many folks–the calming effect that singing has on babies.  I didn’t really like to sing or even hum Rockabye Baby or the Lullaby Song….what I did sing to my daughter nearly every day to get her to go to sleep was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  It was during those days of singing that song that I realized that the alphabet song had the same tune!  Singing my daughter to bed became a helpful bedtime ritual and for years, she automatically hummed whenever she was tired and ready for bed. Even today, we know she’s tired when she starts humming to herself.

I have to hand it to Dr. Karp and the Babocush inventer, Kerry Nevins, for coming up with these solutions to try to help struggling parents calm their colicky babies. People swear by their experiences with the Babocush, just as people swear by Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s (when you click on the link above to my previous post about that, you’ll see the video of many parents succeeding in calming their hysterical babies by way of the 5 S’s technique).  If only these solutions existed back in 2004 when I had my daughter! 😦

I’ve had mothers tell me that the machines shouldn’t replace holding and comforting babies.  But let me tell you something.  Until you’ve had to try to cope with a colicky baby for hours a day, every day for days/weeks, you won’t know how easier said than done that is. Human touch/holding doesn’t cut it in those cases. Nothing really does except for some of these sometimes life-saving (for mothers especially those who are very sick with a postpartum mood disorder) devices/techniques.  I know because colic happened to my baby when she was but a few weeks old. I tried every trick I could think of and that I read about, but to no avail. It was right after her colic went away just as suddenly as it started that my PPD journey began, and my life would never be the same again.  I did post previously about colic as a risk factor, among many other factors, that put me on that scary PPD path.  I also talk about it in more detail in Chapter 6 of my book.