In the News: Research, Medicine, and Community Support for Our Babies

Giving babies the best chance for healthy, happy, and productive lives requires a lot of hard work and attention, not all of it from parents. So, who is working for our babies?

Doctors
Good health care can make all the difference for mother and baby, and it’s important to start as soon as possible. While prenatal care is important, a doctor can improve a woman’s chance of having a healthy baby even before she becomes pregnant.
  • In a recent interview Dr. Al Fleming, perinatologist at the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Center at Sioux City, Iowa’s St. Lukes Regional Medical Center, highlighted the importance of preconception care and counseling in family planning. Dr. Flemming explains how working with a doctor before becoming pregnant can help women identify and address a variety of healthy issues that could make their pregnancies high-risk. Preconception care can be as simple as support in quitting smoking or as extensive as detailed genetic screenings. [Sioux City Journal]
Community Supports
When families are struggling — economically, emotionally, or otherwise– help from organizations within their community can be the difference between barely surviving and being able to thrive.
  • In Asheville, North Carolina, the volunteer doulas of Start From Seed work with low-income and at-risk mothers throughout their pregnancies and the first few months of their babies’ lives. Founder Chelsea Kouns is dedicated to making sure that mothers are informed and supported throughout the prenatal and birth process, but their work doesn’t stop there. Start From Seen also provides postpartum companionship and newborn and selfcare assistance, including referrals to other family services organizations when needed. According to Kouns, this kind of support and education gives “more empowerment…to make better choices for themselves and their new babies.” [Asheville Citizen-Times]

  • Not everything that babies and parents need is emotional or medical. There are material needs too, and sometimes when resources are tight, the balancing act to provide for a baby can be impossible to manage without help. In Shelby County, Tennesse, one consequence of low-income parents’ struggle has been a high-rate of preterm birth and infant mortality. With The Baby Shop, several community organizations are working together to help educate new parents and mothers-to-be and make sure that all of their children’s medical, emotional, and material needs are met. As a community resource center, the Baby Shop will connect women with service agencies, home visitation support, and prenatal care programs to support healthy mother and child. In addition, to help meet babies’ material needs, women will receive vouchers for attending prenatal care, well-baby appointments, and parent education classes, which can be redeemed for staples such as diapers, formula, bedding, and baby clothes. [WREG Memphis] [Shelby County News Flash]
Researchers
We know that babies brains are growing rapidly in their first years of life, but what does that really mean?
  • The clearer picture we get of how babies experience and learn about their world, the more we can do to support their healthy development. And babies know a lot more a lot sooner than you might think. By a child’s first birthday, his or her knowledge includes understandings of basic number sense, the physical nature of objects, and basic behavioral expectations, according to Dr. Elizabeth S. Spelke, a psychology professor at Harvard University. “The job of the baby is to learn,” says Dr. Spelke, in the latest edition of the New York Times’ Profiles in Science. She, in turn, has made it her job to understand what and how babies learn in their earliest developmental stages. Dr. Spelke discusses not only her work in understanding how human perception and cognition develops, but also how her own childhood and her career have influenced her as a mother. [NY Times]

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