Early Childhood Studies – a Global Perspective

Exploring the concepts on early childhood studies through the lens of people across the globe


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Domestic Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect

They barely knew each other. She moved in with him until she got pregnant. They were married before the first child was born. Three more followed after the firstborn. All pregnancies were unplanned. They lived with the husband’s parents for many years. They were provided by the parents for all their needs including the education of their children. He was an alcoholic, heavy smoker and occasionally uses the cannabis plant, also known as marijuana. When conflicts arose, the husband resorted to domestic violence when under the influence of alcohol. Childrdesperation-447736_1280en witnessed the upturning and breaking of furniture, wife beating and verbal abuse directed at the wife. Sometimes violent acts were directed to the children. She sought help from friends. They urged her to walk away. She left for a while, but fear enveloped her. She was scared that she would not be able to fend for her children. Upon her return, the husband sought psychiatric help. He was sober for a while until he slid back to his old habits. The violence from the time children were young continued until they reached their teenage years. The wife sought spiritual comfort to overcome challenges and reached out to her friends for comfort. These were her only sources of coping. She believed that she could still “fix” the husband. However, the change in behavior was short-lived.The incidence of violence and abuse still pervade. What can push her to take further action?

Tremblay et.al. (2004) noted that violence is a precursor of health and mental problems such as alcohol abuse, suicide attempts, and depression among many others. In addition, the functioning of the child had negative impacts in a home where they witness and experience domestic violence. As a result of early exposure to adversities, some of their children turned alcoholic and drug users (English, et.al, 2003). Lack of intervention has harmed the development of these children. If their mother does not have the courage to seek help for her children, who will? Her situation does not provide support from the government. Will this be a cycle of domestic violence and child abuse when these children turn to adults and have their children in the future? It is time to seek help for herself so she can be there for her children.

A deeply rooted source of stressor seems hard to overcome. Systems of support are needed to help victims of abuse redirect the distorted path of development. However, in a society and culture where this form of stress is not a priority for close attention, coping and overcoming adversities still remain far-fetched.

References:

Tremblay, R. E., Nagin, D. S., Séguin, J. R., Zoccolillo, M., Zelazo, P. D., Boivin, M., … & Japel, C. (2004). Physical aggression during early childhood: Trajectories and predictors. Pediatrics114(1), e43-e50. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/114/1/e43.full.pdf+html

English, D. J., Marshall, D. B., & Stewart, A. J. (2003). Effects of family violence on child behavior and health during early childhood. Journal of Family violence,18(1), 43-57. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1021453431252#page-1


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Norway a Role Model to Breasfeeding

norway-28453_1280More than thirty years after bottle-feeding became a trend, Norway has revived the practice of breastfeeding. The success of its implementation nationwide is demonstrated in the high rate of practice,  with approximately 99% of the new mothers breastfeed their children while at the hospital and at least 88% continue six months later. Support is always available for those who are having challenges in breastfeeding. The success of promoting breastfeeding amongst new mothers is largely attributed to the support the family and health policies in Norway. Their social progressive thrust and stable economic status enable them in extensively educate women regarding the benefits of breastfeeding. Women who have just given birth can take a ten-moth maternity leave with full pay or a twelve-month leave with 80% pay benefit. Nursing mothers who are working are allowed to have a two-hour break to breastfeed their babies. In addition, aside from designated places for breastfeeding, mothers are allowed to breastfeed anywhere – from cafes to buses and office working desks. Advertising of formula milk is banned to dissuade its use. With the different support systems available to nursing mothers and their families, Norway has ranked first in breastfeeding.

understanding-breastfeeding-and-how-to-succeedLobbyists played a big role in the revival of breastfeeding in Norway. Back in the 1970’s, a Norwegian mother, Elisabet Helsing was inspired by a book written by the Leche to write her book on nursing. She created a pamphlet and sought the help of an official from the Ministry of Health to print it for public distribution. This official was at the time pregnant with her fourth child and has just finished her Masters on the decline of breastfeeding at Harvard. The timely meeting of like-minded people made a significant impact of the revolutionizing of breastfeeding Norway.

It takes a few people who have the passion for health and wellness of mothers and babies to spark the drive to promote breastfeeding. Although Norway is a well-resourced and developed country, the initiative that Elisabet Helsing can be emulated even in the developing nations. I hope that in my way, I will find means to educate mothers so they will not lose the experience that my daughter and I missed out twenty years ago.

References:

Alvarez, L. (October 21, 2003). Norway Leads Industrial Nations Back to Breasfeeding. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/21/world/norway-leads-          industrial-nations-back-to-breast-feeding.html

The Department of Health. (May 3, 2012). Norway – The WHO Code and Breastfeeding: An       International Comparative Overview. Australian Government Department of Health.     Retrieved from             http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/int-comp-            whocode-bf-init~int-comp-whocode-bf-init-ico~int-comp-whocode-bf-init-ico-norway

Stuebe, A. (2009). The Risks of Not Breastfeeding for Mothers and Infants.Reviews in Obstetrics and             Gynecology2(4), 222–231


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Breastfeeding – Learnings from a Personal Experience

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“Breastfeeding-icon-med” by Matt Daigle – Mothering.com. Licensed under Copyrighted free use via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Breastfeeding-icon-med.svg#/media/File:Breastfeeding-icon-med.svg

Although the benefits of breastfeeding seem to be a common knowledge amongst the birthing populace, there remains a depth of information that are not disseminated especially to aspiring or expectant mothers. I am a classic example of a mother who did not have enough information about breastfeeding when I gave birth. Twenty years ago, I gave birth to cesarean section with the use of epidural anesthesia. My child and I both struggled when I first attempted to breastfeed her. With the lack of knowledge, I did not pursue breastfeeding because of the first unsuccessful attempt. My daughter and I have missed the life-long benefits of breastfeeding because of a wrong assumption and lack of information. It was just a week ago, when I researched about birthing that I came across a research about the effects of epidural anesthesia and cesarean section to breastfeeding. According to research, the post-operative pain drugs can suppress breast-feeding. Moreover, mothers who have undergone surgery to deliver especially if unplanned, score higher in somatic anxiety and muscular tension. Stress experienced by the mother and infant can adversely affect the supply of milk on the onset of breastfeeding.  The stress that the baby experienced affects his or her ability to suck.

Breastfeeding, in general, has numerous effects that are beneficial to both babies and mothers. In simple lay man’s term, the contents of human milk contain substances that can provide infection such as such as H influenza, S pneumonia, V cholera, E Coli, and rotavirus. A research noted that breastfeeding a known as a natural first vaccine because of the colostrum present in the mother’s milk contains numerous antibodies that help the infant fight different forms of infections. Aside from its protective properties, breastfeeding has definite indications of cognitive development.  On the other hand, mothers who breastfeed can have protection against  premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight gain, type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction, and the metabolic syndrome. Failure to breastfeed implicates the use of alternative feeding that is the use of formula milk. The World Health Organization recommended communicating the risks of using formula milk. Some of the adverse effects are higher risks of allergy, asthma, heart disease, diarrhea, childhood cancers and infection caused by contaminated formula.

Reference:

Sema Kuguoglu, Hatice Yildiz, Meltem Kurtuncu Tanir and Birsel Canan Demirbag (2012). Breastfeeding After a Cesarean   Delivery, Cesarean Delivery, Dr. Raed Salim (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0638-8,      InTech, Retrieved from:             http://www.intechopen.com/books/cesarean-delivery/breastfeeding-after-a-cesarean-delivery


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Birthing in the Asian region

It has been twenty-one years since I have gone through the experience of birthing. Although unplanned, I made sure that I knew what it took to undergo pregnancy and to give birth. I read a lot about health and wellness as well as articles on what to do once I have given birth. Dr. Spock’s book became my everyday guide to this experience.Dr. Spock

How can I keep myself healthy? I was nauseous for four months. I could hardly eat anything. My already sensitive nerves to smell were aggravated by pregnancy. I threw up each time an undesirable scent reached my nostrils. However, at the back of my mind, I knew I need some nutrition to nourish not only myself, but also my baby. I lived on milk and plain rice for the first four months, but I caught up once my taste for food got back. I went to the doctor monthly, and this increased more frequently as I was getting too close to my due date. I took the vitamins that the physician prescribed without fail.

What would be good for the baby aside from proper nutrition? My friend who was a music teacher told me that playing classical Music stimulates brain development of children. I bought CDs of Mozart so I can let my child “listen” to it.

Feeling of happiness, how can I maintain this emotion? Knowing that my emotions could also affect the development of my child, I tried to manage my emotions even though I noticed that I was more sensitive than usual.

The day has come. My bag of water broke! I was rushed to the hospital.  Dilation did not progress steadily. My contraction was irregular. I was sent back home. The whole day, I was walking back and forth as I wait for the contractions to come at a regular pace. I was in pain, and the bleeding did not stop. I was brought back to the hospital. I was in the labor room where other expectant mothers were put together. Nurses kept on checking every mother in the room to see signs of readiness for delivery. I could hear cries of pain, here and there. I started to feel scared as I hear those noises. Almost 24 hours since my bag broke. My attending doctor decided to perform a C- section as the baby was already in distress. They asked for my choice of anesthesia – I chose to be put to sleep, forgetting that I won’t be able to see my baby. Fear enveloped me. As soon as I became conscious, I asked for my baby. Her eyes were wide open. I suddenly feel warmth all over me. Hungry, Tita Grace 038the nurses asked me to feed her with my milk. She cried, very frustrated that there’s not enough milk to suck.  She was given a bottle. Days passed; I am realizing I am not able to do the things that can draw us together. I failed to hold her the minute she came into the world. I did not have enough milk to feed her.  I must do something! I was in charge of her from day one that I have recovered from my surgery. That something are MANY THINGS that drew us very close together from birth until now that she is a young adult. She is my daughter, my friend, my critique, my coach, my ALL!

Childbirth in South Korea

korean-seaweed-soup

Seaweed Soup

Having lived in South Korea for at least one fourth of my life, I have witnessed many important events in the lives of the people I knew. Birthing is one of the milestones that they achieve after marriage. I heard stories about how they manage during and after pregnancy. There are many beliefs and practices in their culture that guide them with how to go about pregnancy and childbirth. Examples of these are not engaging in unclean activities and killing anything in order to have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Some foods such as crabs, peaches and squids must be avoided as they are deemed harmful for the pregnant woman.  Fixing of holes on paper doors and fireplaces were avoided as they are considered to bring in bad luck. After birth, women stay in care or nursing facilities for many days to rest so that the body can recover from the physical transitions.  To keep the mother healthy, the seaweed soup is served every meal for at least a month or longer. In addition, the mother only drinks warm water even in the summer. Being exposed to cold is believed to be harmful and can cause illnesses to the mother who just gave birth. In the nursing facility, the mother and the baby stay for a particular period. Visitors, even relatives are not allowed to give time and space for both mother and baby to rest. By the time the mother and child are ready to go home, they stay with the parent of the new mother so she can look after her. For mothers who eventually go back to work after months or years, the grandparents continued to care for the grandchild.

philippines-26794_1280                   south-korea-40604_1280

Southeast Asia vs. East Asia

Although there are many commonalities amongst countries when it comes to birthing experience, cultural contexts present differences in the way it is observed.

I will compare my personal experience with my personal encounters with Korean mothers as well as some pieces of information I gathered from the internet.

Prenatal Stage

As soon as I learned about my pregnancy, I assessed my emotional, physical and cognitive aptitudes to understand what it takes to prepare myself for the pregnancy and the impact of my predisposition to the development of my child.  I used my personal perspective on how to go about my pregnancy instead of following the beliefs of our old folks. Examples of these twin bananabeliefs are not eating twin bananas, or you will have twins when you give birth. Also, part of the belief system was not to walk across a black cat as it can bring bad luck. In the Korean context, although this may not be a general practice, there seems to be a significant thrust of the belief system in preparing for the birth. They want to ensure that it will be a healthy pregnancy.  Foods such as peaches, crabs, squid, and eggs must be avoided as they can bring in bad luck. They are also careful about engaging in activities so they will not come across situations that may be harmful to pregnancy. For example, they must not fix the holes in the doors neither witness a fire accident. Modern day Koreans, however, prepare themselves by attending classes about pregnancy. They seek information and resources that will guide them in the process.

Both Asian countries seem to have a set of beliefs that were handed down from generations by their ancestors. However, the modern day mothers appear to follow their personal thinking regarding birthing.

Birthing in Process

Both countries offer different ways when giving birth. Some go to big hospitals while others choose to go to maternity clinics. In the Philippines, most of the information about pregnancy are provided by doctors and midwives. However, in Korea, apart form doctors, they have ‘doulas’ who can support mothers during and after pregnancy.

Post Birth Experience

After birth, it was a celebration of having a new member of the family. My siblings and mother although far from the city where I lived traveled to see me especially that it was my first (and only) child. The hospital room was never emptied with people coming and going. Even extended families and friends came to visit me and my daughter. A month later, although I have the choice to stay home for three months, I went back to work to augment the income. I needed to raise enough resources with the addition of the needs of the child. During the day, my child was looked after the nanny (this is very affordable in my home country) and made sure that all my time was given to her by the time I get back from work. On the other hand, in Korea, the time after birth is a quiet time for the mother and child to rest and recover from the physical pressures of the experience. Even immediate families are discouraged from visiting the caring facility to allow for the mother and child to recover.  The mother is continuously nourished to regain strength and get ready for the awaiting responsibilities of motherhood. She will be a full-time mother who will be assisted by her mother.  She can think of work again when the child reaches school age.

In these two countries, both scientific and cultural contexts in child development are important. In both cultures, there are support systems available for the expectant mother. Although I commit my time to do things for and with my child, being a working mother limits this interaction. I entrust my child to the care of another person in my absence. The Korean child, on the other hand, has the support, time and attention of the mother and the grandparent until he or she goes to school. Economically, my country has limited support for childbirth mainly that our population is bursting at its seams. Thus, I have to work immediately. In the Korean perspective, where they allow families to have more children, a lot of support are put in place such as the option to have maternal leave for a year. Apart from this, the Korean government provides support so families can afford to find caretakers for their children.

Sources:

AngloInfo. (2000-2015). Childcare and Preschool Options in South Korea. Retrieved from

http://southkorea.angloinfo.com/family/toddlers/childcare/

Asian Info. (2000). Korean Society Celebrations. Retrieved from

http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/korea/cel/birth.htm

Expectant Korean. (n.d.) Doula Services. Retrieved from

https://expectantkorea.wordpress.com/doula-services/

Korea Times. (2013). Korean Postpartum care is special. Retrieved from

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/culture/2013/01/319_129458.html

Ministry of Government Legislation. The Act on the promotion of the economic activities of career –      women. (1997 – 2015). Retrieved from

http://www.moleg.go.kr/english/korLawEng?pstSeq=52973&brdSeq=33