Pregnancy and Lactation Weekly Digest

For the Week Ending April 15, 2018.

Black Mamas Matter

We are right in the middle of Black Maternal Health Week, April 11 – 17, 2018; it is right in the middle of April, which is recognized in the United States as National Minority Health Month. Activities planned for the week “serve to amplify the voices of Black mamas and center the values and traditions of the reproductive and birth justice movements.” Read more here.

This is important for you because many of the risks of pregnancy and childbirth are borne way disproportionately by women of color in this country – a situation which is avoidable and unjust.

Cultural Appropriation in the Mexican Maternity Ward

“Natural” births are trendy among wealthy, light skinned Mexican women, but ironically, Indigenous women are often forbidden to go to the experienced midwives who are expert in these practices. Instead, they are legally bound to go to understaffed, dirty, and frankly dangerous local clinics. The Biblical Pharoah could not have done better. Disturbing as it is, read more here.

This is important for you because there are many safe, traditional approaches to giving birth; all women should have access to them.


That adorable archer’s reflex – the one where your baby reaches out with one arm while the other arm and leg flex – develops really early, at about eighteen weeks, and functions to help the baby down and out of the birth canal. Although primal reflexes like this disappear with age, they can reappear later – in extreme circumstances when it becomes too difficult for the conscious brain to suppress them. Read a beautiful article describing more here.

This is important for you because while everything your baby does seems wondrous, those newborn reflexes still manage to stand out.

Jews, Christians, Muslims – whatever

Israeli Jews live in West Jerusalem, and Palestinian Christians and Muslims live in East Jerusalem. The two populations do not, as a rule, mix. And while the Jewish hospitals in West Jerusalem have always served all of their neighbors, now a number of Jewish Israeli women have opted to give birth in a Christian hospital in East Jerusalem. “We are dealing with mothers as mothers, so it doesn’t matter what religion they are,” said Fatmeh Qassas, head nurse of the postpartum ward. Read more about this inspiring place here.

This is important for you because while it is hardly a solution, breaking down barriers between individuals like this might be baby steps toward a rapprochement between their groups.

The most popular article on The Pulse this week was Occupations You Should Avoid While Breastfeeding. If your job exposes you to dangerous chemicals you might want to check with your doctor – but usually the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of such exposures. Read it here.

Diana Gitig
Dr. Diana Gitig has a Ph.D. in cell biology and genetics from Cornell University, and has been writing about issues in biology – from molecular biology to cancer to immunology to neuroscience to nutrition to agriculture - for the past fifteen years. She has three teenaged children.

Leave a Reply