World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good.
Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms
Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.
As part of World Moms Blog’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood®, our World Moms have been writing posts on maternal health around the world. We have made it to the finish line, and this is the last and 24th post in the incredible one-year series!
Orana Velarde in Srilanka interviewed 8 mothers in Sri Lanka and discovered a diversity of new baby traditions:
“Recently, my family and I moved to Sri Lanka, an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the southeastern coast of India. I know, not your everyday, run of the mill motherhood adventure, but that’s my life!
Once here, it was not long until I began to wonder about the customs and experiences of the local mothers. Sri Lanka has four official religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. Every religion has different beliefs and ceremonies, which makes this land a very rich cultural experience. What was I missing out on? What would surprise me? So, I took to my local mother’s group to interview some moms, eight of them, in fact! The results were exciting…”
World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children.
World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.
The moment I saw the title of the book, I knew what the author meant. It was as if it was written for me. Black Milkby Elif Shafak, renowned novelist from Turkey, is a memoir described as ‘a thoughtful and incisive meditation on literature, motherhood, and spiritual well-being.’
Although I enjoy reading, I am not good at writing book reviews. As a lover of books, I can talk about what I read with friends, who, like me, are still amazed by the creativity of authors. I find it easy to talk about my favorite books, and the stories that stick with me, ones that I will never forget. However, writing an objective book review is something I find very challenging. Yet with Black Milk, I believe I owe mothers out there. I owe them sharing what I gleaned from reading this groundbreaking book.
Shafak wrote about herself – but it could have been about me. Me, a mother who experienced postpartum depression; a new mother who felt at a loss, and who thought that she should not feel this way; a woman who stopped doing things for herself and thought that motherhood should be more than enough; a mother who experienced fluctuations in her feelings 100 times a day; a woman who did not really understand what was going on.
Black Milk describes those ups and downs encountered by many new mothers, especially those experiencing anxiety about the huge change they’ve embarked upon – those mothers who overthink things and believe that they should be able to control the world, and not stop and ‘relax’ for a moment and ‘blend’ with the world.
In the book, Shafak has many inner conversations with her ‘Thumbelinas,’ who each represent aspect of herself. These tiny ladies are constantly fighting, trying to overcome one another to be the dominant part of her personality. Shafak is very objective in writing about them, and instead of hating them, you feel the opposite. In writing about the competing characteristics within, she seeks to find some kind of unifying identity for herself.
Shafak writes about western female writers as well, including Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, and Alice Walker. She explores their lives, the way they found balance between being writers and mothers, or the way some of them chose one role over the other. In these women’s lives, Shafak seeks balance between her life as an artist, and her new life as a mother.
Being a mother and a writer means seeking some sense of self, besides the role of motherhood. The same applies to any personal career or decision a mother takes. Such a choice was not common in the West until recently, and it is still not acceptable in many eastern societies to this day. Thus this subject, though some might consider it a personal issue, is more of a political one that is affected by patriarchal societies. Elif Shafak does not make judgements, and why should she – this is a subject that has no right or wrong to it. The ability to choose and be respected for whatever choices you make should be totally acceptable.
Shafek’s book touched me, as a mother, a writer, and a woman. I really identified with her struggle, her experience with postpartum depression, and her personal crisis as she adapted to motherhood.
How do you find balance between your own personal well-being and the demands of motherhood? What books have inspired you on your journey?
This is an original post for World Moms Network by Ibtisam Alwardi of Oman.
Ibtisam (at Ibtisam's musings) is an Omani Mom of three, living in the capital city of Oman ,Muscat.
After working for ten years as a speech and language therapist in a public hospital, she finally had the courage to resign and start her own business. She had a dream of owning a place where she can integrate fun, play and 'books', thus the iPlay Smart centre (@iplaysmart) was born.
Currently she is focusing on raising awareness through social media about parenting, childhood, language acquisition. She started raising awareness on (the importance of reading) and (sexual harassment) targeting school-aged children.
Ibtisam enjoys writing, both in Arabic and English, reading and working closely with children.
She plans to write children books (in Arabic) one day.
Contact Ibtisam at ibtisamblogging(at)gmail.com.
There’s a reality that’s been gnawing at me for a long time. I’m talking about the pressures that face women – unwanted pressures from society.
As soon as you hit the age of 25, people start asking, “When will you get married?” After your wedding they will ask, “When is ‘our’ firstborn arriving?” If your firstborn child is a baby girl, they will ask, “So when are you giving ‘us’ a boy?” And if your firstborn is a boy, they will ask you, “When are you giving ‘us’ a second child?” Even if you are lucky enough to give them all of that, they will demand a third, fourth and fifth child, because you must give them a namesake. In my African culture, we name our children after our relatives. It is a great honor to have a child named after you. Therefore, every relative will constantly put pressure on you to have more children so that you can give them a namesake.
In my country, there is a certain celebrity news anchor who recently married an equally famous gospel musician. The wedding was in December of last year, just eight short months ago. Since then, the public has been DEMANDING that the lovely couple give them a child. The public reacted horribly when the woman recently shared an old photo of herself on social media. It was a throwback photo of herself as a teenager in high school, reminiscing of the good times she had in her youth. The photo somehow made it to a popular online entertainment and gossip site, and the comments that followed the post were shocking.
“Stop showing us photos of your past, we want to see photos of you pregnant!” the commentators yelled.
“So now you are showing us photos of when you were a girl? Why not of now? Are you trying to hide something? Are you barren?” another asked.
“Give your husband a child now otherwise he will go looking elsewhere,” another said.
“If you’re having problems getting pregnant, inbox me. I’ll sort you out,” another offered.
Hundreds of comments followed, all of a similar nature.
It made me sad. Why does society put so much pressure on people? On couples? On women? What if the couple is not able to have a child? Or if they have been trying, unsuccessfully? What if they have suffered pregnancy loss – something they may not want to openly talk about? Or if they do not even want a child in the first place? Is it the public’s business? Society’s business? Their relatives’ business? Or is it between the husband and wife?
Seriously, as women, we have a lot to deal with, and we do not need societal pressure adding to our nightmares. Unfortunately, that is exactly what we face. In a society where a woman’s worth is valued by her reproductive prowess, it is indeed sad. In my culture, a woman may have achieved many notable feats and broken the glass ceilings over her head, but if she is not married (or, even worse, does not have a child), then she may just be nothing. Society will be harsh on her. That is, if they even recognize her.
But you know what else is interesting? Who is this society that we are talking about? Who are these people?
It is you and me. Us. We are the society. We are the same people who, when we meet a friend who got married over a year ago, will, while shaking her hand, be staring at her belly, trying to catch a glimpse of how swollen it is. Or whether it is swollen at all. Sometimes we do it consciously, sometimes we don’t even notice we are doing it. It just comes naturally. And then we talk with our other girlfriends saying “Lucy is not getting any younger, I wonder when she’s planning to start having babies.” That’s the pressure I’m talking about.
We all need to be a lot more sensitive to what fellow women go through. I hope you and I can make the difference.
This is an original post for World Moms Network by Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Mummy Tales in Kenya.
Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a mother of two boys, writes for a living. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her family. Maryanne, a Christian who is passionate about telling stories, hopes blogging will be a good way for her to engage in her foremost passion as she spreads the message of hope and faith through her own experiences and those of other women, children, mums and dads. She can be found at Mummy Tales.
In the beginning of June my husband, our two youngest children and I traveled to the United Republic of Tanzania. Aka: my birth home. As expected before international travel, we each took appropriate vaccines and malaria tablets.
We were in Tanzania for five weeks, and within that time both children got sick. It began with the 3 year old getting a viral and bacterial infection. One night we noticed that her temples were a bit hot, and then the heat transferred to her palms and soles and they were hot! I had personally never experienced this nor had I ever come across any such symptoms while doing other research online. So needless to say, it was a bit scary.
When we took her to the doctor, lab results showed that she had a viral infection resulting in a rash all over her body, and a bacterial infection which was likely caused by fecal-oral transmitted bacteria.
Nasty. I know. We are parents, however, and if we aren’t writing posts about fecal-oral bacteria, then why are we really here? (smile)
She was prescribed antibiotics, calamine lotion, an antihistamine cream, and antihistamine syrup. After a week, she was all done with her antibotics, which she finished entirely, even after she felt better (I mention this in jest, but I also want to reinforce the importance of ensuring that our kids finish the antibiotics they are on). Her rash went away after a couple more days and that was that (or maybe not).
As soon as she was fine again, her 1.5 year old brother became ill. Coughing, sneezing, hot temples then hot palms and soles including a 102 degree fever in the middle of the night.
The following day we took him to a doctor and his lab results thankfully showed he had not viral infection, but did have a bacterial infection, also brought on by…. You guessed it: a fecal-oral transmitted bacteria.
He was also prescribed antibiotics and probiotics, and began healing quickly.
Fast forward two weeks, to our second last night in Tanzania. My son had a restless night. I thought it was because he wanted his daddy. He was calling ‘Daddy! Daddy!” in the middle of the night and showed no other signs of illness. The next day we walked to pick up my emergency passport (that’s a story for another day) and it was the dustiest 15-minute walk on which he has ever been. Think country road meets busy city road.
I walked as fast as I could, even jogged a bit, but alas, the damage was done. That night he had a runny nose that went from clear to yellow overnight. He has been sick ever since.
When we returned to the States I took him to his pediatrician’s office and explained what had happened. The pediatrician on call prescribed an anti-allergy medication. Five days later he was no better. We went back and his usual pediatrician said to increase the dosage of that medicine and alternate it with another antihistamine.
We added the use of a humidifier, eucalyptus oil, and baby Vicks on the back, chest and feet. We also got a really cool contraption that allows parents to suck the snot out of the baby’s nose through a filtered hose that keeps parents mouths clean. Yay!
Nothing was better. He had that same palm and soles fever for two nights. We took him to the doctor for the third time and I explained our travel and illnesses to a third pediatrician. I explained how both kids were still feeling sick, one with crazy congestion, the other with a persistent upset tummy – something she never used to have.
I am not in the medical field and words in my vocabulary like to take abrupt leave of absence (my husband says it’s because I speak multiple languages. I go with that reasoning!). So sometimes it feels that what I have gathered about my children’s health and what I think should be checked based on how they are feeling, is something that their pediatrician doesn’t quite get. Sometimes it feels as if they dismiss the possibility of something worse until it becomes that very thing; only then is it treated. Again, I am not in the medical field, so maybe there is nothing they can do until the reddened ears become infected ears, and the heavy congestion becomes wheezing… I don’t know.
This third visit proved more fruitful. This pediatrician seemed to actually listen and I also knew to be firm in what I wanted done for my children. He acknowledged the possibility of them being exposed to something overseas that requires special attention; something no one else acknowledged until then.
We are going for a follow up visit tomorrow, but it will also be a second visit for our 3 year old, as she is now showing many of the same symptoms as her brother , plus a couple of her own.
If there was a point (or two) to this post, it would be to please follow your instincts when it comes to your children, if in no other area.
Doctors are now considered to be in position of prestige, but that shouldn’t deter you from doing your research and stating exactly what you would like to see happen with your children. Don’t be afraid to be mom.
When traveling try your best to keep your children’s hands clean, and the dishes they use clean and dry.
What tips do you have when it comes to traveling with small children? Have your children gotten sick while overseas?
Do you feel that your pediatrician is interested in what you have to say? Do you feel that he or she is really listening to you?
This is an original post to World Moms Network by Sophia of ThinkSayBe. Photo credit to the author.
I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!
I realize that in my last post I might have sounded just slightly negative about Portugal and the Portuguese. Let me just state clearly, so there is no doubt, that I absolutely truly love living in this wonderful country. And it’s not just about the food, the sun, the wine or the beautiful beaches. Portugal is one of the most child-friendly countries I know.
It is difficult for me to make a fair comparison to my home countries, since I have spent so long in Latin places (Portugal and Brazil) that my personality and culture has strayed very far from its Anglo-German origins. Just ask any English person who backs away when I enthusiastically greet them with a kiss! I’ve never tried to nurse a baby in England, never attempted to enter German restaurant with a pushchair. But it doesn’t get much better than what I’ve experienced in Brazil and Portugal.
Let’s start with pregnancy. In Brazil, you are automatically elevated to the position of demi-goddess. People in the street will exclaim how lucky and beautiful you are, no matter the size of your girth or breadth of your waddle. Little old ladies in cafés will stand in line to touch your baby belly, coo to the baby or pronounce a quick blessing. Granted, this can sometimes be a bit too much for someone who has clearly defined boundaries around their personal space (who, me?) but all-in-all being pregnant Brazil is like being wrapped in a comfy, welcoming social blanket (until you try and give birth…).
Then the baby comes.
If Mom is a demi-goddess, baby is Zeus and Hera wrapped into one. In Brazil, babies rule supreme.
Gone are the days when you could have a quiet dinner at a restaurant. Your baby may be fast asleep but every single passerby will want to lift the blanket to take a look. Random strangers will come up and offer to hold your baby, just because she’s so adorable. I’ll admit I found this difficult to adjust to: if I was uncomfortable having strangers touch my pregnant belly, I definitely did not want them carrying my newborn son around the shopping mall. But although new mothers have to learn to say “No” to little old ladies and be prepared to whip their babies out of the arms of strangers, the beauty of this attitude is that you and your baby are always welcome.
You can go to the beach, have coffee in your favorite coffee shop and even eat your favorite fancy restaurant. No waiter is too snotty to help you carry the push-chair over tables, smile at your squawking toddler and pick up his napkin the umpteenth time he drops it.
Portugal is pretty much my dream country in every single way, so I was delighted to find that this baby-friendly attitude extends across the Atlantic from Brazil.
Since moving here I have breastfed my baby in the local pastelaria, at a fancy Christmas dinner and walking along the beach. I now breastfeed a rambunctious toddler who enjoys pulling the goods out for all to see (if you know what I mean) and still, no comment, no looks, no disapproval.
If you’re out and about on your own with baby, everyone is willing to lend a hand. Just the other day two tiny old ladies offered to hold my bike while I attempted the impossible task of holding my son while switching to the other side of the handlebars. A friend of mine recently flew from France to Brazil. On the way there the Brazilian couple next to her entertained both of her kids throughout the flight. On the way back, a French couple tetchily complained when her toddler accidentally knocked against their iPad.
Like I said, I don’t really know what things are like back in England or Germany. I’ve heard positive stories of playgrounds galore, soft play centers that open on Sunday nights, and cafés with special baby corners. But I’ve also heard friends talk about feeling uncomfortable when out of the house, and of restaurants that are specifically “adult-only”. The Brazilian-Portuguese attitude that “everyone’s child is my child” of course has its downsides: I was recently berated by a couple on the beach for allowing my son to walk barefoot.
But for the moment, I’m just going to count my blessings. My attitude to parenting is that my baby just comes with me wherever I go – how lucky am I to live in a country that gives me the freedom to do exactly that.
How child-friendly is the country you live in? How do you feel about child-free restaurants?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Julie of Portugal. Photo credit to the author.
Julie, her husband and baby boy are currently living in Portugal, having spent the previous three years in the southeast of Brazil.
She considers herself a bit of an obsessive reader, and even more so since discovering she was pregnant. All that information has to go somewhere, which is why Julie started her blog, happy mama = happy baby, where she documents all the quirky parenting ideas she has collected so far.