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.
Before my (now 24 year old) son was born, I was a SuperSitter. Not only did I work for a Babysitting Agency called SuperSitters, but I’d also studied Child Psychology, Child and Infant First Aid and aced a course which would have allowed me to open up a daycare facility of my own, if I’d wanted to. I was the person they’d call for challenging babies and children. I could soothe a colicky baby and have a normally hyperactive child fast asleep before the parents came home. They all expressed their astonishment at how well their young ones behaved when in my care. I felt supremely confident in my ability to be a great mother – after all, if other people’s children behaved so wonderfully when I looked after them, surely my own flesh and blood would be even easier, right?!
When I found out I was pregnant, I was thrilled. I read every single book on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting that I could lay my hands on, attended prenatal classes, and congratulated myself on how well-prepared I was for motherhood. A week before my due date I had my bag packed for the hospital and my birth plan written out. My husband had been prepped as to what I would need from him at each stage of labour. We were ready – or so we thought!
My due date came and went with no sign whatsoever of my son wanting to be born. I was extremely bloated and hot (January in South Africa is peak Summer heat), not to mention anxious to hold my son. To make matters even worse, my husband and I were living with my grandparents at the time, and with every braxton hicks contraction they would ask, “Is it time?” Eventually I couldn’t take it any more, so 10 days post due date I had my husband take me to the hospital. When I got there my contractions stopped again. On examination I was 3 cm dilated. The doctor asked me if I wanted to go home or if I was willing to have my labour induced. I wish that I’d been smart enough to go home, but at that moment I couldn’t face going home again without having given birth. This was to be the first of many mistakes I made as a mother.
I will spare you all the gory details, except to tell you that nothing went according to my meticulous birth plan, and I ended up needing an emergency c-section due to foetal distress. That was just the start of our problems. The surgical team struggled to get my uterus to stop bleeding after they’d delivered my son. My blood pressure nearly bottomed out and (much later) my OB-Gyn admitted that, if I hadn’t stopped bleeding when I did, she would have had to perform a hysterectomy to save my life! I thank God every day that it didn’t happen, because I wouldn’t have my beautiful daughter if it had! I’d lost so much blood that they had to keep transfusing me throughout the night. I wasn’t taken back to the maternity ward until the next day.
Because of what had happened to me, I wasn’t given the chance to breastfeed my son until much later the next day. By then they’d already given him a bottle and I never managed to get breastfeeding properly established. Instead of the minimum 6 months that I had planned to breastfeed, I ended up switching to bottle feeding almost from the day I got home. I really wish that I’d known then what I know now, like breastfeeding on demand!
As if that wasn’t bad enough, my son had severe colic for the first 3 months or so. Much to my surprise and dismay, this “SuperSitter” was completely and utterly unable to soothe her own baby! I also suffered through Postpartum Depression. I thank God every day for the unbelievable support I had from my husband, grandparents and aunt, who all stepped in and did for my son what I wasn’t able to.
Things went from bad to worse for my poor son. He projectile vomited every feed for almost 2 years, despite all our best efforts. He also often had gastroenteritis. Between puke and diarrhea we did a full load of washing every.single.day. I cried a lot during those first two years, because I felt like the world’s worst mother, and I was sure that my son wasn’t going to survive given all the vomiting.
Fast forward to today and the child I was so worried about has grown into a handsome, healthy and intelligent young man. In those early days I couldn’t even begin to dream of him becoming the man he is today. He has surpassed all my expectations, and I am incredibly proud of him.
He is now married, and is the step-dad of a lovely little girl. My son has learnt how to speak, read and write German fluently, and is currently studying Computer Science (Informatik) at Goethe University in Frankfurt.
The main reason for writing this post (apart from the fact that today is my son’s birthday!) is to give hope to all the moms who, like me, feel that they’re not “good enough” mothers. What I have learnt is that all children need to know three things – that you love them unconditionally, that you’re proud of them and that they can trust you. As long as you have those 3 things in place, nothing else really matters that much. Most of the things that we beat ourselves up for they don’t even remember when they grow up!
Was your labour and delivery what you hoped it would be? What do you wish you’d known when you were younger?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mama Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.
Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues.
Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!
As parents we can not protect our children from the whole world around us, though we often wish we could. There are some things that we can do to produce the best possible outcome for our children. The first week of August has been designated as World Breastfeeding Week, finally breasts are getting the global attention they deserve for all the right reasons. Breastfeeding is being recognized as an important building block to the global Sustainable Development Goals. Having spent nearly a decade either pregnant or breastfeeding my own four kids, I feel like an unofficial ambassador.
My personal commitment to nursing our babies all began with a trip to Turkey. Our first baby was going to be six months old when we would be traveling and with all of the accessories needed for travel with an infant I was feeling overwhelmed. I realized the easiest way to streamline feeding would be to continue to exclusively breastfeed until we returned home. In that way we were able to skip bottles that needed to be sanitized, glass jars of babyfood, and the quest for clean water on the go. The experience taught me how portable babies can be, and the ease that breastfeeding provided in being able to feed them whenever and wherever I needed. Recent research, which inspired the declaration of World Breastfeeding Week, has highlighted the benefits of breastfeeding beyond the convenience. Exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life has been shown to reduce the occurrence of ear infections, diarrhea, and respiratory problems in infants, and may even help to prevent obesity in later years. In 2011 the Surgeon General created a call to action to support breastfeeding resulting in the month of August being declared National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.
The First Thousand Days: A Crucial Time For Mothers and Children- and the World by Roger Thurow focuses on the importance of proper nutrition during the time period when a baby’s brain develops most rapidly, the 1,000 days from conception to the age of two years old. This is when the first breastmilk is so important because it contains colostrum which is rich in antibodies that boosts the newborn immune system. Breastmilk has been shown to contain all of the essential nutrients necessary to support a baby’s rapid development and in the book the American Academy of Pediatrics is quoted in 2012 as proclaiming:
“given the documented short and longterm medical and neuro-developmental advantages of breastfeeding, infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue not only a lifestyle choice.”
Breastfeeding on our travels kept our baby healthy throughout, but as we know we only have so much control. The 7.6 earthquake that hit on our second night in Turkey was a stark reminder of such. The next morning I thought of all the mothers who had crouched on their beds shielding their babies as I had while the earth shook, feeling the same fear, but who had not been as fortunate to survive. We can not always protect our children from everything, but by raising awareness with World Breastfeeding Week mothers will know that by initiating breastfeeding within the first couple of hours after birth a newborn baby is given the best possible start in life.
Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.
I don’t imagine it is news to anyone that the US political process is a bit of a mess right now. We may be a divided nation, but we all seem to be in agreement that the circus-like atmosphere of the current presidential election is troubling. I am a very politically engaged person, but I’ve become very selective about when and how I consume any media covering the elections, lest I fall into despair. Fortunately for me, this story made it through my filters. A picture of a mother breastfeeding her infant daughter at a Bernie Sanders rally went viral and birthed the hashtag #boobsforbernie.
Finally! Something I can get behind! The woman has reportedly received death threats and incredible amounts of vitriolic hate since the photo when viral, but also an incredible outpouring of love and support, even from Bernie Sanders and his wife. The campaign, of course, used it as an opportunity to support and encourage breastfeeding mothers everywhere, no doubt clinching many votes and hearts in the process.
I was pleased to see the picture, pleased to see the Sanders’ response, and pleased to see the hashtag. My hope, though, is that it will spark a conversation much longer and larger than breastfeeding in public. Supporting mothers for breastfeeding in public, which in many places in the US is a radical act, is very important. But so too is supporting all parents of all genders who feed their babies in any way for the incredible amounts of work and dedication it takes to raise a child and the insistence on not doing the work of child-rearing behind closed doors or divorced from a full and integrated life.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why policies in the US – a country big on “family values” – are so unfriendly, particularly to mothers, but generally to parents and caretakers.
There is never one answer to such a complex problem, but one thought I’ve had is that it is related to the way we do parenting here in the US. Compared to other cultures I’ve lived in and experienced, raising a child in the US is very compartmentalized from the rest of life. I know a lot of parents who do not live or parent that way, myself included, but the overarching message from American culture seems to be that children and parenting fall into a very specific category and time in our lives and it all centers around our homes, schools, and parks.
So, when a mother is seen breastfeeding her child at a political rally, or toddlers are at a nice restaurant, or parents find a way to have their children present with them at work, there is a reaction. Often, not a kind one; one that implies that there is a time and a place for children to exist and have their needs met and it is not the same space where adults interact and have their needs met.
This compartmentalization of parenting, then, marginalizes primary caregivers who have to make a choice about whether or not to engage in the world in a full way while they care for children. Because most primary caregivers are women, this affects women disproportionately, specifically minority women who are already marginalized by many other factors. Parenting shouldn’t be about choosing between taking care of children OR having a well-balanced and meaningful life. Children can and should be a part of our work lives, our spiritual lives, our community lives, our political lives – all of it!
So, I say let’s make this #boobsforbernie hashtag into a call to parent in public!
This is an original post written by Mrs. V for World Moms Blog.
Do you agree that we need to more openly parent in public?
Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states.
Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.
I recently met with a Huffington Post columnist at Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei. She is writing a book that tells the story of how culture has influenced the breastfeeding controversy. She asked me what is it like to breastfeed in Taiwan.
I thought carefully when answering her question. Today’s Taiwan seems to be a very breastfeeding friendly society: Taiwanese government adopted International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitute in 1992 and then started to promote Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in 1998. Today, there are nursing rooms literary everywhere in Taiwan. From big cities to small towns, nursing rooms can be found in government buildings, in shopping malls, in libraries, in banks, in metro stations, in parks, and in restaurants. (more…)