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MYNP holds that any person regardless of age, social status, or gender who bears genuine love for his/her mother will always want to honor her and make her proud by doing right and by being the best that he or she can be.

MYNP believes that loving Nanay is tantamount to loving Tatay and every member of the family.

MYNP dedicates itself to building communities that celebrate and honor diversity, tolerance, love, courage, industry, patience, forgiveness, honesty, justice, positivism and possibilitism – one family at a time.

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On New Year’s Day, pope says there’s nothing like a mother’s love


On New Year’s Day, pope says there’s nothing like a mother’s love

On New Year’s Day, pope says there’s nothing like a mother’s love

Pope Francis incenses the altar as he celebrates a new year Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.)


ROME – Pope Francis started the New Year heaping praise not only on the Virgin Mary but on all mothers, saying their love is the foundation of humanity and the cure for a world often divided and filled with bitterness.

He praised mothers for the “heroism” they show “in self-giving, strength in compassion, wisdom in meekness,” saying they are people who know how to take their children by the hand and “lovingly introduce them to life.”

At times children can take the wrong path and, believing they are strong and free, they become lost and enslaved, forgetting the love of their mother and living in anger and bitterness, he said, noting that while being “malicious” might at times seem to be a sign of strength, “it is nothing more than weakness.”

“A world that looks to the future without a mother’s gaze is shortsighted. It may well increase its profits, but it will no longer see others as children. It will make money, but not for everyone. We will all dwell in the same house, but not as brothers and sisters,” the pope said.

Humanity “is built upon mothers,” he said, adding that “a world in which maternal tenderness is dismissed as mere sentiment may be rich materially, but poor where the future is concerned.”

Francis, as he does every year, celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica marking the Catholic solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, a title given to the Virgin Mary during the Council of Ephesus in 431. The day also marks the celebration of the global World Day of Peace, this year focusing on the theme “Good politics at the service of peace.”

Francis is known for having a longstanding “love affair” with Mary expressed in popular Catholic devotion. His devotion to Our Lady began well before his 2013 election to the papacy, and one concrete sign of this is a promise he made in 1990 to the Virgin of Carmel to give up television.

He was known to participate in massive Marian pilgrimages to the Argentine shrine of Our Lady of Lujan while archbishop of Buenos Aires, and even now before and after every international trip he takes, he visits the highly venerated icon, the Salus Populi Romani (protectress of the Roman people) to both entrust his travels to her, and to give thanks.

In interviews, the pope has also often said his devotion to Mary helps carry him through the papacy, having prayed three rosaries a day right after his election and also praying a rosary while closing his eyes when he needs to take a small break during the work day.

In his homily Tuesday, Francis said the start of the new year is a time to be “amazed” not only by the opportunity for new beginnings, but also by the Mother of God, who was deeply united with her son, Jesus.

“God is no distant lord, dwelling in splendid isolation above the heavens, but love incarnate, born like us of a mother, in order to become a brother to each of us,” he said, and urged Catholic faithful to ask Mary for “the grace to be amazed at the God of surprises” as 2019 gets started.

He urged each person to try to remember the amazement of when they first discovered faith, and similarly, said the Church must also remember its sense of amazement in being a mother to all those in need.


If the Church forgets this, “she risks turning into a beautiful museum of the past. Our Lady instead gives the Church the feel of home, a home in which the God of newness dwells,” he said, adding that Catholics should look to Mary in times of difficulty when their lives are “entangled in life’s knots.”

(The reference to knots, by the way, is likely a reference to “Our Lady, Untier of Knots,” a Marian title that originated from a painting inside a small chapel in a Bavarian parish that a younger Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis, discovered during a brief stint studying in Germany. He was so struck by the image that when he returned to Argentina, he made it a point to spread devotion to the image throughout his archdiocese.)

“How much dispersion and solitude there is all around us! The world is completely connected, yet seems increasingly disjointed,” Francis said. Faced with this reality, “we need to entrust ourselves to our Mother,” he said, noting how Elizabeth did this when Mary visited her, as did the newlyweds at Cana when Mary asked Jesus to intervene when the wine ran out.

Mary, he said, “is a cure for solitude and dispersion. She is the Mother of consolation: she stands ‘with’ those who are alone. She knows that words are not enough to console; presence is needed, and she is present as a mother.”

Francis closed his homily saying Our Lady “is not an optional accessory,” but rather, “has to be welcomed into our life. She is the Queen of peace, who triumphs over evil and leads us along paths of goodness, who restores unity to her children, who teaches us compassion.”

In his Angelus address after Mass, the pope said that Mary, as she holds her son, the savior of the world, in her arms and shows him to the world, “blesses us.”

“She blesses the path of every man and every woman in this year that is beginning, and which will be good precisely in the measure in which each person welcomes the goodness of God that Jesus came to bring into the world,” he said, adding that this blessing is what gives meaning to all of the well-wishes exchanged at the beginning of the new year.

He then noted how the day also marks the World Day of Peace, stressing that peace is not only reserved to those who govern, but “we are all responsible for the life of the city, for the common good.”

“Politics is also good in the measure in which each person does their part in the service of peace,” he said, and asked Our Lady to help and accompany people in their daily commitment to politics aimed at the common good. He then asked attendees to join him in saying together “Holy Mother of God” three times before reciting the traditional Marian prayer.

How To Teach Your Kids About Other Cultures

Raising kids with a greater appreciation for differences can help make the world a better place.
10/19/2018 08:32pm ET

There are many benefits to talking to kids about diversity and other cultures.

As racist and xenophobic sentiments fill news headlines, many parents are wondering how to instill values of acceptance and cultural understanding in their children.

“It’s important to me for my sons to understand that people around the world are just like them and to have empathy for those people, understanding and real global awareness,” Florida mom Akeelah Kuraishi told HuffPost.

Kuraishi ― who was born in England to a Pakistani father and Scottish mother ― put her mission into practice by creating Little Global Citizens, a subscription box meant to teach kids about different cultures and people around the world.

“Young children don’t have societal preconceptions and I think sometimes we forget that,” she explained. “It’s very imperative to take a stand right now to impact the next generation and make sure they are open-minded, compassionate and aware.”

To offer parents some guidance on this front, HuffPost spoke to Kuraishi and Sonia Nieto, author of Affirming Diversity and professor emerita of language, literacy and culture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Education. Here are their tips for teaching kids about cultural diversity.

Start with books

Both Kuraishi and Nieto recommended having reading material at home that reflects the diversity of our world, from magazines to children’s books.

“Books offer a great opportunity to teach kids about different countries and cultures to expand their horizons, even just to get them to say unfamiliar names,” Kuraishi noted.

While reading books that involve different cultures, parents should help their children empathize with the characters. They can ask questions like, “Oh, isn’t it interesting that this person lives with their grandparents or their aunties?” or “Wow, they have chickens at their home. Do you think it would be fun to have chickens? What would that be like?”

“Ask them to think about the differences and make sure to highlight the similarities, like ‘This little boy likes soccer just like you!’ or ‘This child is enjoying a book just like you!,’” Kuraishi said.


Expose children to characters from diverse backgrounds.

Find opportunities in your community

“Expose your children to experiences that they might not ordinarily have and that they can learn from so that as they grow older. They will be comfortable in these situations where they are the only one of whatever background they might be,” Nieto explained. “Exposure is so important. Let them see things they aren’t familiar with yet.”

Nieto recommends taking advantage of community experiences like theater performances, concerts, lectures and museums, which provide a wealth of diverse learning opportunities. While these kinds of experiences are more abundant in large cities, it’s still possible to find them in smaller communities. “You just have to look for it,” she said.

Finding local places of worship can be a helpful route, as they often put on cultural festivals to teach the community about their traditions and allow people from diverse backgrounds to engage with each other.

And although kids might be reluctant to try new things, Nieto noted that it’s all about getting over that initial hurdle.

“It’s just like with food. I’d always ask my kids to try something and said, ‘If you don’t like it, you don’t have to have it,‘” she explained. “But often they would like it, and say ‘Oh yeah this is pretty good.’”

Go to different restaurants

“I think it’s very important to make sure you’re learning from a culture and not about a culture,” said Kuraishi. Going to different kinds of restaurants that are embedded in cultural communities gives kids the opportunity to taste new food, hear other languages and see what people from different cultures wear.

Before visiting restaurants that serve cuisine from a less familiar culture, Kuraishi reads up on it with her sons. “My boys love to learn a few new words in that language and then try them out at the restaurant if we’re lucky enough to go to a restaurant where the staff is actually from the country of origin,” she explained. “People respond so well to it, too. Just dive into restaurants you wouldn’t normally go to.”

“Exposure is so important. Let them see things they aren’t familiar with yet.”

Kuraishi also noted that restaurants are a great entry into diverse communities that you can engage with outside the dining experience.

Foster their curiosity

It’s an all-too-common situation: A parent and child are walking down the street when they pass someone wearing unfamiliar cultural garb or speaking another language. And when the child asks about it, the parent shushes them.

Nieto and Kuraishi advise parents not to do, as it assigns a negative connotation to differences. Rather, they should to take an open and positive approach and encourage those kinds of questions as a way to normalize differences.

“Don’t act like it’s a negative thing that you have to speak in an embarrassed fashion about or be concerned to address. Look at it as a learning opportunity ― to open their minds and expand their horizons. It’s so exciting and fun for them,” said Kuraishi. “Your children are not coming at this from a negative perspective, so make it a positive thing by saying, ‘Oh that’s so cool. I don’t know why she’s wearing this type of clothing, but why don’t we go and learn about it together?’”


Kids are naturally curious about other people and cultures

These moments can also open the door to learning. “If a child asks about a woman wearing a hijab, for example, you can just say honestly, ‘Women in other religions sometimes cover their hair as part of their religion and a sign of respect. In other religions, men wear yarmulkes, for example.’”

Know there’s nothing wrong with differences

Pretending not to “see race” or “see differences” doesn’t serve kids well. After all, they learn about differences like colors and shapes early on in their education.

“I think we have a problem here in our country of not wanting to notice differences,” said Nieto. “I’ve met many teachers who say ‘Oh, I don’t see differences black or white. All of my kids are the same to me.’ But all of your students are not the same. They come with their beautiful differences, and we should acknowledge those because it’s not as if by avoiding them they cease to exist. They do exist.”

Parents set the tone for how children think about people from other cultures and shouldn’t be shy about differences, Kuraishi noted. “We can set their norms,” she said.

Ultimately, parents need to teach their children that people in the world look different, wear different clothes, eat different foods, listen to different music and more. Kuraishi added that laying this foundation can help prepare kids to succeed in this globally connected world, develop better emotional intelligence skills, feel greater flexibility and creativity, and build more confidence in understanding their role and place in life.

Make it natural

“I think the best way for parents to make sure their children experience diversity is to make it a natural part of life,” Nieto said. She cautioned against taking an overly contrived approach. “It’s not to say ‘Go out and make a black friend!’ because that’s not the most natural way.”

“Work for change in housing policies. Neighborhoods are really segregated by race, ethnicity and social class.”

Ideally, all families would live in highly diverse communities that naturally exposed their kids to differences, she noted. But as that’s not the reality in the U.S., Nieto advised parents to get involved politically.

“Work for change in housing policies. Neighborhoods are really segregated by race, ethnicity and social class,” she said.“If we live such segregated lives, parents may feel like they need to import diversity, which is not very natural.”

Use other media

There helpful digital resources to help kids learn about differences. Kuraishi recommends language learning apps like Gus on the Go, Little Pim, and Duolingo. “There are also some great TV shows, like ‘Super Wings,’ which takes kids on a journey to a different country in every episode,” she said. “As parents, it’s important to be intentional about what your kids are watching and making sure the children characters are representative of a diverse spectrum.”

Nieto pointed to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project, which includes resources for educators and other caring adults ― as well as a magazine. She is also a fan of Teaching For Change and Rethinking Schools.

Educate yourself

If you don’t feel comfortable having these conversations as a parent, it’s important to educate yourself.

“Often I think we’re stuck in our own silos, and we’re afraid to venture out,” Nieto said. Reading, taking classes, seeing different movies or joining a book club with diverse selections are good ways to start.

“If you read the news right now, you see that our world needs a hefty dose of empathy, and it’s not really taught in schools,” Kuraishi explained. “It’s something we have to teach as families.”

The Little Global Citizens CEO draws inspiration from a quote by author Rachel Naomi Remen: “When we know ourselves to be connected to all others, acting compassionately is simply the natural thing to do.”

“I think that should be a guiding force for our generation of parents to make sure the world is better for our kids,” Kuraishi added.

5 Little Ways To Show Your Kids The Importance Of Mental Health

From the “emotional volcano” method to a children’s book about mindfulness.
10/12/2018 02:31pm
ET | Updated October 12, 2018
Mental health isn’t something only adults should prioritize. Here’s how to talk to your kids about taking care of their minds just as much as their bodies.

When children scrape their knees, they know it’s an injury that needs to be treated. But when they suffer from something mentally, they might not know it’s just as important to have their minds cared for too.

Maintaining good mental health should be considered a lesson not only for adults but for children as well.

“I used to see this level of stress in high schoolers who were applying to college,” said Katie Hurley, a child and adolescent psychotherapist and the author of The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World. “Now I have 5-year-olds in my office who are dealing with anxiety disorders and excessive stress.”

We spoke to experts in psychology, pediatrics and mindfulness for tips on how to teach kids the importance of mental health. They offered five interesting ways to get children to express themselves, feel validated in their emotions and take care of their minds just as much as their bodies.

Try the ‘emotional volcano’ method

Hurley said she talks to kids and parents about their feelings using the “emotional volcano.” She draws a volcano on a whiteboard and explains that everyone has different feelings throughout the day. When we don’t express those feelings, they remain in the volcano until it erupts.

“If we just leave those feelings in the volcano, they start to really bubble and bubble and bubble until they come flying out and exploding, and that’s when you get the crying, hitting and kicking,” she said.

Hurley noted that many parents regard these actions as the result of a behavioral problem, but it’s more “an explosion of emotions that weren’t dealt with.” That’s why it’s important to teach kids to talk about their feelings and release them one by one.

“If you see a child making a particular face in response to a stressful situation, rather than saying, ‘Oh, don’t be frustrated,’ you can say, ‘Your face looks upset. What’s up? What’s going on?’”


Teach by example and be mindful of your own habits

Various studies have shown that in excessive amounts, screen time for kids and gaming and social media for teens can have harmful effects on behavior, mood, sleep schedules and overall health. Dr. Katherine Williamson, a pediatrician and the vice president of the Orange County chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said it’s important for caretakers to set an example of sensible screen time with habits like having no phones at the dinner table or at bedtime.

Similarly, it’s important for parents to lead by example and share their vulnerabilities so their kids will be comfortable exposing and discussing their own.

“You can say something like, ‘I had something happen at work today, and I’m not even sure I handled it right, but I did my best,’” she said.

Take note of the language you use

Rachel Busman, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and the senior director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute, said it’s important for parents to not automatically interpret their kids’ facial expressions and instead give them a chance to explain.

“If you see a child making a particular face in response to a stressful situation, rather than saying, ‘Oh, don’t be frustrated,’ you can say, ‘Your face looks upset. What’s up? What’s going on?’” she said. “It’s beneficial to provide an opportunity for kids to tell you how they feel, rather than narrate what you think your kid is experiencing.”

When looking for the right language to use when asking about a child’s day, caretakers should avoid very general questions like “How’s school?” or “How was the playdate?”

“’Those conversations often don’t end in a lot of information,” she said. “Instead ask, ‘What was something interesting that happened today?’ or ‘What did you do in gym class?’”

Teach them mindfulness techniques

Mallika Chopra, an author and wellness expert and the daughter of spiritual leader Deepak Chopra, learned how to meditate at the age of 9. She said it’s a “great gift” she also passed down to her kids. The experience inspired her to write her children’s book, Just Breathe: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement, and More.


Mallika Chopra, an author and the daughter of spiritual leader Deepak Chopra, wrote Just Breathe to teach kids about mindfulness.

Aside from meditations, the book features gratitude exercises as well as suggestions about movement, like walking and yoga, and being aware of how you use your words.

“The goal of this book is to share the tools that I had growing up,” she said. “As a mom, I can see that this generation has a lot of pressure.”

Encourage them to journal

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling can reduce stress and help people manage anxiety and depression. Dianne Maroney, who has a master’s degree in psychiatric and mental health nursing, has also seen the impact of giving kids the power to tell their stories, and in 2015, she founded the Imagine Project Inc., which offers a seven-step process focused on expressive writing.

The journals used in the project (offered in age groups from kindergartners to adults) are available on the nonprofit’s site at no cost. The project allows kids to process stress and trauma and gain confidence while letting parents, teachers and caretakers in on difficult times the child may be going through.

“The Imagine Project helps kids talk about what’s happened to them, if it’s stress, minor trauma, major trauma, anything,” Maroney said. “It’s a point where they can still talk about it, overcome it and write a new story in its place. It helps give kids hope, and hope is something that kids really need. I think they’re struggling with that in our society right now.”

Parenting is harder than ever, and there’s no one way to do it right. So on Nov. 2, HuffPost Life will convene a community of people trying to figure it out together at our inaugural HuffPost Parents conference, How to Raise a Kid. In advance of the event, HuffPost Parents will publish stories on topics that matter deeply to parents of children who are starting to navigate the world on their own — bullying; sex, consent and gender; money; their digital lives; and how to raise compassionate, self-sufficient, creative, emotionally intelligent children. In short, kids who aren’t assholes. View the event site here and be sure to follow HuffPost Parents on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter, How Not to Raise a Jerk.

Life stands still for many women and girls in India during their period


(CNN)They’re skipping school, they’re excluded from sports and they’re shunned from places of worship — once a month, at least, when they’re menstruating.

For many women and girls in India, even talking about periods is taboo, and a lack of access to sanitary products means life comes to a standstill for a few days every month.
The Myna Mahila Foundation is trying to change that. The organization employs 15 local women from Mumbai slums to make sanitary pads, while another 50 women distribute them door to door in the slums. The model means stable employment for the workers and easy, affordable access to pads for people in the community.

Women working for Myna Mahila Foundation in Mumbai show the sanitary pads they make and distribute.

Speaking to CNN on Monday, marking Menstrual Hygiene Day, the foundation’s co-founder Suhani Jalota listed the many reasons women and girls fail to get such essential items.
“There’s a whole bunch of different factors here where women don’t have access to these products — they don’t even have knowledge of these products. There is a lot of stigma around it, there’s a lack of facilities and infrastructure at schools,” she said, explaining that some schools did not have functional toilets.
Girls even drop out of school during puberty because they simply don’t have the means to manage their periods.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, gives Myna a boost

Interest in Myna Mahila has grown since Britain’s newly married royal couple, Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, included the organization on their list of charities to donate to in lieu of wedding gifts.
The Duchess, who has spoken out on feminist issues and women’s empowerment, had visited the organization in India, and was photographed in a sari as she met with the women working there.

Suhani Jalota receiving a Queen's Young Leaders Award from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on June 29, 2017.

Her involvement has helped spread awareness of menstrual hygiene across India and given the movement a stamp of approval, Jalota said.
Tackling stigma is a major challenge, particularly when it comes to talking about periods between genders.
“If you were to buy a packet of sanitary napkins today, you have to go to a chemist shop or a medical store, which is manned by men — male shopkeepers, and there are male bystanders, there are male customers — and there’s this one woman there who’s announcing that she wants a packet of pads, implying that she has her period. So the male shopkeeper kind of doesn’t even look at her straight,” she explained.
Out of shame, many women use traditional rags and wash and dry them discreetly, storing them in damp and unhygienic conditions.

Women working at the Myna Mahila Foundation preparing sanitary pads.

Shame aside, more than 40% of women between the ages of 15 and 24 in India have no access to sanitary products in the first place, according to the India National Family Health Survey.
Jalota said that she and Myna Mahila’s co-founders started the organization with the hope of encouraging women to talk about the things they were most afraid to talk about. In fact, the charity’s name comes from the “chatty” myna bird.
“We really started this movement around menstrual hygiene first because we feel that it’s a very tangible way of tackling empowerment,” she said.
She added that they found women in the communities where they worked had powerful voices, but they were being treated as invisible. They wanted to encourage more confidence in women to determine their own lives.
“If women started to consider themselves to be more important, then slowly it would start conversations around domestic violence, and sexual assault and menstrual hygiene, things that women were currently shying away from.”

Pregnancy complications might ‘turn on’ schizophrenia genes, study says

These complications appear to “turn on” genes in the placenta that have been associated with schizophrenia, the researchers said.
“The complications that mattered were very serious obstetric complications like pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction and premature rupture of membranes without induction of labor,” said Dr. Daniel Weinberger, director and CEO of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a leading author of the new study.
“And these kinds of stresses happen in about 15% of pregnancies, so it’s not an uncommon environmental risk factor,” he added.
The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, looked at the genetic profiles and pregnancy histories of nearly 4,000 adults from four countries: the United States, Italy, Germany and Japan. About half had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, a complex psychiatric disorder that affects mood, cognition, self-expression, thought processes and perceptions of reality.
The researchers found a strong association between serious pregnancy complications and the development of schizophrenia later in the child’s life. Specifically, adults with a high genetic risk whose mothers had complications during pregnancy were about five times more likely to develop schizophrenia than individuals with similar genetic risks but no pregnancy complications.
“The first finding was that these risk factors interact with each other. The genetic risk for schizophrenia in the context of a complicated pregnancy has a much bigger impact — a four- to five-fold greater impact — on the liability that a person will develop schizophrenia than if they occur in the absence of a complicated pregnancy,” Weinberger said.
Schizophrenia is a serious psychiatric disorder that affects nearly 1% of the population worldwide. Symptoms include hallucinations, dysfunctional thinking, reduced expression or pleasure in everyday activities and memory problems, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.


 The disorder is probably caused by a mixture of genetic and environmental risk factors, including the environment of the uterus during pregnancy. Genetic factors account for nearly 80% of the risk of developing schizophrenia, a 2009 study found.
“Most complex human disorders, including schizophrenia, involve both genetic and environmental risk factors,” Weinberger said. “And there is a very extensive catalog now of regions of the human genome that have been found to increase the risk of schizophrenia.”
As a second part of the study, the researchers also analyzed gene expression in placental tissue from patients whose mothers had or didn’t have pregnancy complications. They found that a subset of the genes known to be associated with schizophrenia were more likely to be “turned on” in the placenta of patients who had complications during pregnancy.
“These genes seem to monitor or represent the biological resilience or sensitivity of the placenta to environmental stress. The more the placenta showed signs of being under stress, the more this group of schizophrenia genes were turned on,” Weinberger said.
The placenta is a unique organ made up of fetal and maternal tissue that helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to the fetus during pregnancy and remove waste products. Its role in the development of a number of health conditions is probably underrecognized, according to Dr. David Valle, director of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins, who was not involved in the new study.
“The placenta is a vital organ for the well-being of the fetus,” Valle said. “I think many investigators, myself included, have been trying to understand how perinatal stress could increase risk for schizophrenia. And this work hypothesizes that the intermediary in the equation is the placenta.


 “To some extent, this is one of those observations that you sort of slap yourself in the side of the head and say, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ It’s quite interesting,” he added.
The researchers also found that the genes associated with schizophrenia were more likely to be “turned on” in the placenta of male fetuses than female fetuses, which could help explain why men are more likely to develop schizophrenia than women, according to Valle.
“We’ve known all along that men have a higher risk for developing schizophrenia, and they generally develop it earlier in life,” Valle said. “This may be a way to explain that increased risk.”
The new study is not the first to link events during pregnancy with the development of schizophrenia. A 2010 study, for example, showed that women who were exposed to the influenza virus during the second trimester of pregnancy were three to seven times more likely to have children with schizophrenia.
But the new study is the first to suggest that adverse events during pregnancy could change gene expression in the placenta — and presumably the fetus, according to Valle.
“People have known for a long time that perinatal problems increase risk for schizophrenia,” Valle said. “But what’s exciting about this work is that it provides a new and innovative way of trying to connect the genetic risk with the perinatal risk.”


The study could also help explain why a number of complex psychiatric illnesses — including schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism — are more common in men, according to Weinberger.
“We’ve known for a long time that all these developmental behavior disorders — schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, dyslexia and Tourette syndrome — are two to four times more common in males than females, and we’ve never had any good understanding of that,” Weinberger said.
“This suggests that some of the basis for this male incidence increase has to do with the relatively greater sensitivity of the male placenta to environmental stress during pregnancy,” he added.
The new research cannot say whether there are critical times during pregnancy when the placenta is more or less vulnerable to stress — one of the study’s main limitations, according to Valle.
But the findings could help guide research into the biological basis of schizophrenia as well as the identification of individuals who may be at increased risk of developing schizophrenia later in life, according to Weinberger.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “We need to do a lot more to understand the genetic programs that build placentas, that modify placentas and that respond to stress in the placenta. Obviously, some of the schizophrenia genes are part of that landscape.”
And if researchers can better identify people with an increased risk of schizophrenia early on, Valle said, “perhaps there’s some intervention we can do to help reduce their chances of developing schizophrenia.”

10 Lies Parents Tell A Lot but Never Notice

Dr. E. Magdalena Battles has a PhD in Academic and Clinical Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Child Psychology. Her specialties include children, domestic violence, and sexual assault and she shares her real life experiences and professional insights on her website Living Joy Daily.



 As a parent, I totally understand sometimes we lie to protect our kids, we love them so much that we don’t want them to get hurt. However, I came to realise that lying actually does no good to our kids, it will only back-fire and turn our kids into liars. That’s obviously not what we want so we need to stop doing that and be true to both ourselves and our kids.

Some of the Everyday Lies Parents Tell Unconsciously

Here are some examples of lies that parents will often tell their kids, along with better solutions. These are examples to help you brain storm your own solutions to the little lies you may be telling your child on a regular basis.

1. “Santa Clause is watching you.”

 Instead of threatening them with Santa not giving them gifts, take away something in the here and now so they know their behavior has immediate consequences. If they are fighting with their sister and you want the fighting to stop so you say Santa is watching (and eventually they will find out you are big fat liar on this one) have a consequence for their behavior. Have a realistic punishment like taking away electrics for a few hours or giving them a time out period. The one ask parenting method works well for siblings fighting and is explained in this article: Effective Way of Talking with Children.

2. “I will never let anything bad happen to you.”

This may be your intention, but it may not be possible. You can’t protect your child 100% of the time. Instead, use the truth, but frame it so the child does feel protected, yet aware of real dangers. Saying something like “I will always try to protect you, but there are bad people out there so that’s why I don’t want you to wander away from me in a store, as there are kids that are taken from their Mommies and Daddies. I am here to protect you, but if you wander away, then I am not there and you could be putting yourself in danger”. It may be scary, but its also a truthful reality. You don’t want to cause them any undue anxiety, so choose your words carefully. Let them know although kidnappings are rare, it is still something all kids and parents should be aware of, so that they are cautious of strangers when out it public.

 3. “The park is closed.”

You know very well the park is open, but you don’t have time to take the kids to the park because you have errands to run. Instead of lying, be honest. “Mommy can’t take you to the park today because we have to get groceries for the week so we can have meals and I have some other important errands that have to be done today.” They may whine and complain, but that’s ok, they will learn the reality of life is that they can’t have everything that they want all the time. Telling the truth also helps make you an honest parent and not a liar, because eventually they will get old enough and realize you are lying about the park being closed.

4. “It won’t hurt, I promise”

 They need to get a shot from the doctor, but they are screaming and you want the screaming to stop so they can get the shot. However, they are screaming because they know you are lying. You said it wouldn’t hurt the first time they got shots. They know better. They learned from the pain that you lied. Don’t lie. Let them know it will be a small poke, a little pain, but then its over and they get a sucker. Explain that they need the shot, for whatever health reason. Don’t be a liar. This one will quickly make you the bad guy because if you tell them it won’t hurt and hurts immensely you are the one to blame. The reality is that shots do hurt, but the pain does go away, so lead with that bit of truth and you will find them trusting you more, not less.

5. “You are the best artist, great job on your painting!”

Don’t bother praising your child when you aren’t sincere. Believe it or not, kids are not as gullible as you think. They can pick up on tone of voice, body language, and know when you aren’t completely being truthful. Instead, you can praise their creativity or the ingenuity in their work. Praise them for something you believe is true about their work and abilities, not an end product that is just mediocre.

 6. “Its bed time!”

Its only 7:30 and not really time for bed, since you know their actual bedtime is 8:00. Simple solution: “its time to start getting ready for bed”. Words matter. You may have meant that its time to get ready for bed, but what you said was that “its bedtime”. Once they begin to tell time, you want to make sure you are saying what you mean and mean what you say. Its all about maintaining the trust between you and your child. It may be a little white lie, but lies upon lies mount up to become bigger trust issues.

7. “I don’t know what happened to your artwork that was hanging on the fridge.”

 You know what happened to it because you threw it away. You can’t keep every piece of artwork because you simply don’t have the space to keep all of it. The best solution is to explain this to your child. Show them the drawer or bin where you do keep the best or most meaningful pieces that they make. They can put things there if they want to make sure they are saved. If the bin gets full, then its time for them to help sort through and recycle the pieces that they no longer want to keep. This gives them responsibility over their artwork, and it also makes you an honest parent.

8. “I will be there in a minute.”

Yes, your intention is good. You do want to be there to tuck them in or to help them with their project or whatever it may be. However, you are paying bills and want to finish up what you are doing. Then tell them just that. Tell them that you need to finish paying bills and then you can come to help them. Don’t lie by saying it is a minute, because it may be longer, and the more the time passes before you come to them then the more it makes you out to be a liar. Avoid the lie, by simply telling the truth and being specific.

9. “I am going to leave this house without you.”

Instead of using a scare tactic, use specific and realistic consequences to move them into action. You can say “if you don’t have your shoes on and are ready to get into the car within 5 minutes, then you will lose your TV privileges for the evening.” Be sure to follow through with the consequences every time. You will find you have a child who listens to you because of what you say, not because they are scared into action, but because your words have weight.

10. “We don’t have enough money to xxx.”

Instead of lying, explain it to your child on their level. Tell them you all want to go on vacation so we can’t go to the movies and sometimes do other things.  Help them understand that sometimes to do something really special and fun, it involves sacrifice. Not only are you teaching them a valuable life lesson, but you are also not making yourself a liar.

Compared to lying, knowing the truth is the best way for your kids to learn and grow

1. Learning about the consequences of bad behavior is the quickest way to correct them.

If your child throws a fit at the checkout every time you go shopping because they want candy so you say “I will get it for you next time”, you are setting yourself up for failure in the future. Eventually the child will realize you say this every time so they will continue throwing fits and their behavior can escalate.

 Be honest, and have consequences for their fit throwing. With this in mind you need to have a solution ready for the next time you are at the checkout. Perhaps before you enter the store you have a chat with your child on their level explaining that fit throwing will not be accepted.

Let your child know there is a specific punishment if a fit is thrown in the store, such as no TV time for the rest of that day. They may still throw the fit, but when you follow through with that punishment they will learn quickly that their actions do have consequences, because you will follow through on your word. Your words have the power to make you a parent who is trustworthy or not and the development of this trust starts during early childhood.

2. It’s better to learn from honest comments than to avoid disappointments.

 It is better to be honest and disappoint your child and they perhaps suffer small disappointments along the way, rather than damaging the relationship you have with that child long term. Trust is the foundation of that long term relationship. When you miss your child’s soccer game because you were having dinner with a friend and the game slipped your mind. Instead of being honest you tell your child “I am sorry I had to miss the soccer game, I had an important work meeting I couldn’t miss”.

These are the sort of white lies that create distrust over time, as the child will figure things out and realize you are lying. Perhaps you run into that friend with your child and they say how great it was to have that meal together and catch up. Your child now knows you lied. You are caught. Wouldn’t it have been better to tell the truth? Of course, so make it a habit of telling the truth even if it may be slightly uncomfortable or painful for you or the child. Trust is the most important foundation in the relationship, so don’t damage it when you can simply be honest and truthful in all things.

You should have simply told your child “I am so sorry I didn’t make it to the game, I was having dinner with a friend and I simply forgot about the game. I will make an effort to be at the next one because I feel bad I missed the game”. Being truthful is always best. You gain credibility with your honesty, even if you are admitting a fault. Psychology Todaydiscussed this topic of parents lying to avoid disappointment and stated the following:

   The reality is that children can deal with almost any disappointment if provided parental support. It works the  other way as well whereby if children are repeatedly lied to by parents they begin to doubt and distrust even the simplest realities.

Be honest, don’t lie, as it damages the child’s ability to trust you in the future. Little trust leads to bigger trust. If your child can’t trust you in the small issues, how are they going to trust you with the big issues, such as drug use or sex. All parents want their children to have open lines of communication and trust with their child, but many greatly diminish that trust relationship during early childhood because of the little lies told during those formative years.

Parenting Skills – Level: Expert

Parenting Skills – Level: Expert

There are many skills you acquire once you become a parent. Some of them are obvious and well-known to most people, like Moms ears that can hear the tiniest of whimpers in a deep sleep, or growing eyes in the back of their head, while Dads become very adept at sleeping through literally anything.


But the skills that I speak of are skills at which you never thought you’d become an expert, mostly because they are skills whose existence you were completely unaware of pre-kids. These are a hidden treasure trove of super-human abilities that you must hone, or this whole parenting thing will eat you alive.

#1. Hiding things in the trash. Seems simple, right? Only to those without children! But if you have kids, you must learn to properly hide things like:

  • artwork,
  • old broken toys,
  • the packaging to those old broken toys that were played with more than the actual toy itself,
  • and candy wrappers from candy that you ate and didn’t share with you kids,

If not, you are toast. Because they will find it, and there will be hell to pay.

#2. Unwrapping food and chewing really, REALLY quietly. Look, being a parent is all about selflessness. But sometimes, you just want a granola bar and you want to eat it in peace! Especially if it’s a good one that’s dipped in chocolate. (note: It is helpful to have mastered skill #1 before moving on to this skill)

#3. Acting/Pretending. Of all the parenting skills, this is probably the most important. It comes in handy when you:

  • Need to pretend that you have no idea where something is that you DEFINITELY threw away weeks ago.
  • Need to make it seem like you know what your kid is talking about, especially as it pertains to video games, or television shows, or a game they made up with their friends at school. Most of it will make no sense to you, but you must make it appear as though it does.
  • Need to make it seem like you never said they could do something just to get them to stop asking, but now it’s been months since you said it, and you just figured they forgot.

#4. Being impervious to having your name called 47 times in a row, multiple times a day. Go ahead kid. Say “Mom” 100 more times. I don’t even hear it anymore.

#5. Saying “In a minute!” so convincingly that your kids believe you, even though you have no intention of doing whatever they’re asking you to do in anywhere close to a minute. On extremely rare occasions, they may even forget about it. But don’t hold your breath.

And conversely,

#6. Saying “Five more minutes!’ when getting ready to leave someplace like a park or a birthday party. Then you end up staying for another hour because your kids are playing and you are actually able to have a conversation with another adult, albeit one that is interrupted every 10 seconds with one of you having to correct your child. This one isn’t really so helpful to parents, but it is probably the reason that most kids have absolutely no concept of time.

Granted, some of these skills are more useful than others, and none of them are likely earn a spot on your resume, but in most cases, that doesn’t much matter.


But in the long run, they’ll certainly help you get through these cherished years with your little ones.

The Incredible Power Of A Mother’s Love


The Incredible Power Of A Mother’s Love

A mother’s love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.” – Marion C. Garretty

The love of a mother is also the reflector of light, hope, and happiness. It’s an incredible power that connects the heart of a child to that of the Heavenly Father. Let’s honor our Mothers in a special way!

10 OFW Mothers Cry in Dubai. Find out why

Screenshot-2018-5-24 10 OFW mothers cry in Dubai Find out why - The Filipino Times

by Yba Ognikob

10 OFW mothers cry in Dubai. Find out why

Photo: Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes, (7th from left), and spouse, Dr. Yasmin Balajadia-Cortes, (6th from left), flanked by the 10 supermoms.

‘Ako lang yata and ‘Buaya’ na kauna-unahang umiyak sa entablado.

Dubai, May 2018 – Being a mother is like a 7/11 store, you work from sunrise till the sundown, round the clock, 7 days a week, 365 days in a year. It takes a great amount of love, patience, dedication, hard work and understanding to sustain the family and keep them intact.

In honor of all the “nanays” working in the UAE, the Philippine Consulate General organized a special Mother’s Day celebration on May 18, giving commendations to 10 outstanding OFW mothers for their dedication to raise and support their family back home while at the same time serving “kababayans” in the UAE.

Josephine Gonzales Buaya receives her award from Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes and spouse, Dr. Yasmin Balajadia-Cortes

Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes, who led the event, along with his spouse, Dr.
Dr.Yasmin Balajadia-Cortes, chair of the civic group, Filipino Ladies of Dubai (FLD) Chairperson), said that the Ulirang Ina Awards is a way of recognizing the hardships and sacrifices overseas Filipino mothers go through.

Coming from different walks of life, the 10 amazing supermoms were: Norma Sanita, Josephine Gonzales Buaya, Yolanda De Jesus, Jennifer Velasco, Teresita Uy, Generosa Usi, Florencia Respende, Irenea Silva, Claresa Dorado, Clarita Barabona.

Supermom Florencia Respende tries to hold her tears

The awardees were all given the prestigious Ulirang Ina 2018 Certificates, roses, along with other gifts from the embassy and the sponsors. But the most comforting present each of awardees was surprised with was the sweet messages and video clips from their loved ones – which melted everyone’s heart.

One of the teary-eyed mama Josephine Buaya jokingly said “Ako lang yata and ‘Buaya’ na kauna-unahang umiyak sa entablado,” when it was her turn to go on stage. “Buwaya” is Filipino for crocodile.

The crowd break down

The mom said the feeling is really unexplainable for a mother being far from your children for not one anywhere in the world would want that to happen. (Photos by Jobert Flores/ Kabayan Kamera Klub)

Portrait of a loving mom

Norma Sanita’s son consoles her

Norma Sanita, a single mother from Leyte who reportedly has no formal education, left her youngest son when he was only about a week old, to work in a foreign land.

Over the years, dedication and hard work paid off with help from her employer, which enabled her to run her own cleaning company in Ajman.

“Malaking tulong ang ginawa ng amo ko,” said Sanita, who was accompanied by her eldest son, Norman, at the event to, himself, share his piece about his mom.

Norman, who is working in the UAE, said his mom went to work abroad when they were very young. Apparently growing up constantly bugged by why she left, Norman said now he understands why his mom had to go that time – “she just wanted us to have a brighter future,” he said.

“Alam kong naghirap ka, mahirap ang pinagdaanan mo para sa amin, para mabigyan mo kami ng magandang kinabukasan. You are the best mom. I love you,” said Norman. (I know you went through rough and hard times for us, so that you could give us a bright future.)

Trends in Unmarried Childbearing Point to a Coming Apart

SOURCE: https://ifstudies.org/blog/trends-in-unmarried-childbearing-point-to-a-coming-apart

Late last year in this space, I offered an overview of a report from Senator Mike Lee’s Social Capital Project about the rise of unwed childbearing. Today, two-fifths of children are born to unmarried mothers, a phenomenon the report traced to declining birth rates among married women, rising birth rates among unmarried women, a fall in “shotgun marriages,” and a decline in marriage itself.

On Valentine’s Day, the project released some additional charts breaking the numbers out by race and educational attainment. The simple way to summarize them is this: In terms of race, old disparities have persisted as unmarried childbearing has risen among all groups. In terms of education, by contrast, we are seeing what Charles Murray called “coming apart”: Nothing much has changed for the highly educated, while the less educated are having children out of wedlock at increasing rates.

Below is the main chart on race. About 70% of black children and more than half of Hispanic children are born out of wedlock today. These figures are far higher than they were decades ago and considerably higher than the rates for whites and those of “other” races—but rates for everyone rose over time.

Source: Social Capital Project, 2018

Another striking chart documents the decline of “shotgun marriage” following an unwed pregnancy. Again, there is both a racial disparity and a dramatic trend over time, but all racial groups saw a big change in the same direction.

Source: Social Capital Project, 2018

The trend is even more dramatic for women under 30 giving birth for the first time. Shotgun marriage was once the norm for white women in this category; now it’s rare for all groups.

Source: Social Capital Project, 2018

Things look different in terms of education. This is a hard trend to sort out because educational attainment has grown over time—those without a high-school degree, for example, are a highly disadvantaged sliver of today’s population but were quite common half a century ago. To address this issue, the authors “defined three categories of educational attainment in each five-year group, attempting to the extent possible to keep each group the same relative size. That is, ‘low education’ in earlier years corresponds to fewer years of schooling than ‘low education’ in more recent years, but roughly the same share of women is in this group every year.”

Here are the overall numbers on the percentage of children born out of wedlock:

Source: Social Capital Project, 2018

As Murray argued, the highly educated are holding on to older family patterns while the less educated are drifting away from them. Perhaps surprisingly, this is evident even in shotgun marriage—the highly educated are more likely than others to marry after an unwed pregnancy, and have changed their behavior less over time:

Source: Social Capital Project, 2018

Unfortunately, though, it is not entirely clear what can be done about any of this. “Reviving shotgun marriage would surely do less for children than reversing the growth in nonmarital pregnancy,” the authors write. “At the very least, nonmarital childbearing—and the forces behind its rise—should be of great concern when considering the wellbeing of children.”

Don’t Miss the Joy of Family Life

SOURCE: https://ifstudies.org/blog/dont-miss-the-joy-of-family-life

I remember leaving swimming lessons with a five-year-old one afternoon. (She was mine. I hadn’t taken a random child.) As we passed the garden I turned back to see why my daughter wasn’t beside me. We were late. I was frustrated. This was no time for dawdling. And then I noticed her bending over and smelling the flowers. My heart melted. She reminded me that there is joy in every moment if we look. We spent about 20 seconds looking at and smelling the flowers. Her curiosity was satisfied. And she gladly accompanied me to the car. Imagine the alternative! Slowing down creates opportunities for joy—and sometimes it only takes 20 seconds.

If you want to find ways to have more joy with your children, watch grandparents. Maturity (and, in some cases, retirement) allows them both more time and improved priorities. They celebrate joy with their grandchildren far better than parents. There may be something in that.

Perhaps we can both encourage our children to spend more time with their grandparents (or vice versa) and adopt their approach to priorities and relationships. When time is running out, we tend to focus more on what matters most.

There are significant and important things that we can do to increase our joy—and our children’s joy—in our families. We can do the following—and many more.

1. Spend time together

Relationships are at the center of our happiness and joy. When our relationships are strong and thriving, our joy
fills up. Spending time with the people you love is a sure-fire way to increase joy for you and for them.

2. Hug

Hug lots. Touch, squeeze, be close. Hold those hugs for as long as the child wants to be hugged. Long hugs are way better than short hugs. Long hugs create a burst of the ‘love’ neurotransmitter oxytocin. They boost dopamine and serotonin. These are brain chemicals that promote bonding and positivity.

3. Spend time in nature

Nature is fuel for the soul. In nature, we are more inclined to talk and connect, to be grateful and to be active. Time in nature promotes gratitude and awe, respect and reverence and a sense that there is something that transcends us and our often trivial daily dramas.

4. Serve

As a family, find people to serve. Do ‘good deeds’ for fun. Offer surprises and secret treats to neighbors and friends. Cook a meal for someone who is struggling. Let your child participate in your efforts. These acts of service strengthen your family and make everyone feel better about life.

5. Be grateful

As we appreciate the good things we have in life, research confirms that our sense of wellbeing and joy is increased. Being miserly and ungrateful reduces happiness and joy. Finding something to appreciate about challenges is tougher but offers a sense of meaning and purpose.

6. Slow down

Can we stop being so busy? And can we also stop pretending that we’re so busy because we are always engaged by our screens? Slow down, sit quietly, be available and create ‘margin’ in your life. Margin is that space on the page where there is room for notes and corrections. Margin is that space in our lives where there is room for other people and the possibility of change.

7. Play

When we play, we communicate, meet one another’s gaze, listen, learn, establish rules, build relationships and become open to possibilities and influence. Our emotions stabilize. We learn to regulate behaviors. And we laugh.

We can find joy—and fun—in all kinds of inconvenient times and places. Children are most likely to recognize and celebrate joy when they are: with the people they love; doing things they like; doing something that energizes them
; curious
; playing; and developing mastery.

Think about the breathtaking joy you feel in the following experiences:

  • Watching your child sleep peacefully
  • Experiencing one of those hugs where they snuggle right in
  • Seeing your child engaged in some kind of activity, oblivious 
to the world
  • Having a conversation with your three-year-old and realizing that they really are talking with you
  • Singing out loud to your child’s favorite music as it plays 
full bore in the car
  • Hearing your child tell you about something they’ve achieved

And so many more things. What are some of the experiences that bring you joy with your children?

These things, when we are fully in the moment, bring us joy. They bring our children joy. When we share them, our family joy is increased!

But how often do these simple things escape our attention? How easy is it to miss the joy of the moment because of our agenda, or our exhaustion, or our busy schedule? It’s too easy to tuck the kids into bed, walk out of the room, turn off the light and walk away without another thought when life gets pressured.

Savoring the small and mundane gives us access to, and awareness of, the joy that is all too easy to miss in the busyness of family life.

Kyla Reveals Heartbreaking Loss: ‘An Angel Is Watching Over Me’

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/pregnancy/getting-pregnant/kyla-reveals-angel-is-watching-over-her-a00228-20180417?ref=home_feed_1

Kyla Reveals Heartbreaking Loss: 'An Angel Is Watching Over Me'

A pregnancy loss is one of the most heartbreaking experiences for any woman. The devastating pain stays with you no matter how many years had passed, and the memory can catch you off-guard like what singer Kyla experienced recently during a performance.

During the launch of her latest album, “The Queen of R&B,” at Eastwood City, Kyla performed some of the songs on the record, including one that was titled Proper Heartbreak, which was about a relationship coming to an end.

In a video shared by ABS-CBN NewsKyla, who is a mother to Toby Elsiah, 4, and happily married to basketball player Rich Alvarez, explained to her fans at the launch that she was able to relate to the song differently.

“Itong kanta na ‘to, because of an experience na nangyari last month, it gave a different meaning to the song,” she said. “Noong pinapakinggan ko siya, sabi ko, ‘Bakit ako umiiyak kung hindi ko naman siya na-e-experience? But naka-relate ako in a different way.”

“I know an angel is watching over me right now,” Kyla added, her voice breaking.

She also got teary-eyed at one part of the song when she sang the line “I’ve got to let you go.” She apologized to the audience afterward, saying, “Minsan talaga nagiging vulnerable tayo. You can never be really ready for things like that to happen. I was never prepared, but I know there’s an angel watching over me right now.”

Though the singer did not explicitly say what she went through, her management, Cornerstone Entertainment, confirmed with ABS-CBN News that she suffered from a miscarriage last March.

In SmartParenting.com.ph’s Parent Chat and SP Village Facebook group, we’ve had moms share what helped them survive their miscarriage. But many also reach out to moms to ask how they can move on. Many moms cannot help but feel they must have done something wrong that led to them losing their unborn child. 

For one Parent Chat user, losing her baby was “very depressing, emotionally draining, and faith-shaking.” She said that she almost lost her husband as well because she found fault in everything that he did, but at the same time she felt guilty and sorry for what happened.

Another user who unfortunately suffered two miscarriages shared that she blamed herself for the loss of her babies because she was very sickly at the time.

Women should know that most of the time a miscarriage is caused by genetic abnormalities — no one can prevent it from happening. 

“In most cases, there’s nothing you can do to cause a miscarriage and nothing you can do to prevent it,” says Dr. Siobhan Dolan in an interview with Parents. She is a medical advisor for the US-based non-profit organization March of Dimes and an attending physician in the University Hospital for Einstein in New York City.

But that doesn’t mean that the pain felt is any less. Like Kyla, the grief you feel when you lose your child can stick with you for a long time.

“It’s my second baby’s second death anniversary na next month, and it still hurts a lot,” writes another Parent Chat user. “Nung first few months, I cried every day. I don’t think I’ve moved on. Namanhid na lang ata ako. I still cry kapag holidays and birthday [niya].”

One Parent Chat user wondered out loud about moving on. “Nalulungkot, nasasabik ako magka-baby, but OB said bawal pa mabuntis within three months. Ano gagawin ko within three months, mag-pray lang?”

A fellow Parent Chat user replied with her message of support. “Mahirap sa simula, pero time heals all wounds. Hindi man natin makakalimutan pero makakasanayan na rin natin,” she writes. 

She also says that while she experienced miscarriage twice, she was finally blessed with a healthy baby girl. “Super worth it lahat ng hirap at paghihintay.” (You can still have a healthy pregnancy after a miscarriage. Read success stories here and here).

In our SP Village Facebook group, one mom who was pregnant at eight weeks shared that when she had her first ultrasound, no heartbeat was detected. A day later, she posted on our Facebook group that upon her ob-gyn’s advice, she needed to let the baby go. She was met with an outpouring of love and support from fellow moms in the Village. 

For those who have not experienced the devastation that other moms have gone through, finding the right words that will comfort may be hard. But for someone who’s just suffered a painful loss, letting them know you’re there to listen is what they need — and more often than not, that is already enough.

This Mom Got To See Her Baby Being Born Via C-Section

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/pregnancy/labor-and-childbirth/this-mom-got-to-see-her-baby-being-born-via-c-section-a00041-20180416?ref=home_featured_big

This Mom Got To See Her Baby Being Born Via C-Section

For most moms, whether you deliver your child naturally or via C-section is not an issue. Still, however, a few feel like they deprive their babies if they don’t give birth vaginally. That way of thinking should be a thing of the past, though, as C-section moms are now also taking control of their belly births by having a gentle C-section.

gentle C-section allows the new mom immediate skin-to-skin contact with her newborn to stimulate bonding and breastfeeding, and in some cases, they use clear surgical drapes so the mom can see her baby being born. Pregnant ladies can even request to dim the lights, have their choice of songs be played in the background, and more, as long as their birth hospital allows them.

Using clear surgical drapes is not an entirely new idea, but not all hospitals have them, and it’s only recently that their use has been documented in birth photography. (One of these C-section birth photos with clear drapes even won an award.) Birth photographer and doula Tracey Abney shared a couple’s gentle C-section story and photos with Buzzfeed News

Allison and Bennet, of Madison, Alabama, had their first child three years ago via natural vaginal delivery. They hoped for their next baby to be delivered in a similar way, but at 20 weeks, Allison was diagnosed with placenta previa, a condition wherein the placenta is too close to or blocks the cervix. Ergo, the baby couldn’t pass through.  The couple had hoped their circumstances would change, but researched on family-friendly C-Section births just the same.

When it was certain Allison would undergo a C-section, they made a birth plan with the help of their doula Tracey, herself a mom, knows how moms could feel helpless and powerless not being “involved” in their own birth experience because she is the last person in the room to see her baby. 

Included in Allison and Brent’s gentle C-section and family-friendly birth plan are immediate skin-to-skin contact and the use of clear surgical drapes which their birth hospital offers; they simply had to request it beforehand to make sure a clear surgical drape is available on the date of Allison’s scheduled C-section. 

Before the C-section, hospital staff set up the standard blue with the clear drapes behind it. Abney clarified that the surgery part of the procedure is done with blue drapes up—you don’t actually watch doctors do the incision or stitch you up. When it’s time for the doctors to “deliver” the baby, that’s the only time they would pull the blue drapes down so the mom could see her baby being born. Doctors cut the baby’s umbilical cord, too, with the blue drapes down before putting it up again to finish the procedure, while letting the mom and baby have their skin-to-skin time.

That’s exactly what happened during Allison’s gentle C-section. She had Brent and her doula by her side, and all of them witnessed the birth of her son (Brent is a little squeamish so the doctors and nurses were careful to cover up the bloody parts and the medical instruments used before pulling down the blue drapes). 

“Just like with our first child, seeing our baby for the first time will be cherished forever,” Allison wrote on Love What Matters. “Our goal was to not miss out on any part of the beautiful birth experience just because we were scheduled to have a C-Section. And thanks to our amazing doctors, nurses, and doula, we had an amazing and beautiful birth experience,” she added. 

“The clear drape allowed Allison to be an active participant in their baby’s birth,” Abney wrote in Love What Matters. “She was able to see him the moment he was out of the womb. She was able to watch the moment her son was born, and the moment he took his first breath. She was able to see his features, his hair, his chubby little cheeks, and legs. [She was] able to not only hear him cry but [also] watch his lip quiver with the sound. She got to watch the umbilical cord being cut,” she added.

Allison told Buzzfeed News, “I believe every woman who wants a clear drape, wants that skin-to-skin immediately after, wants an extra person in the O.R. for that comfort for mom and dad, that they should receive that. As long as everyone is healthy and safe I believe that a cesarean birth can be just and beautiful and special as a vaginal birth.”

3 Signs You Might Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/health/your-health/pcos-the-3-signs-you-have-it-and-the-possibility-of-infertility-a00026-20180410?ref=home_feed_1

3 Signs You Might Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

If you’re a Filipina, you probably know someone — or have been diagnosed yourself — with polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS

According to Dr. Maynila Domingo, an obstetrician-gynecologist at ManilaMed in Ermita, Manila, “Overall, at least one in 15 women of reproductive age will be affected by PCOS, making it the most common endocrine (a.k.a. hormonal) disorder among this age group,”  

PCOS’ exact cause is unknown, but it’s characterized by an imbalance in reproductive hormones. The imbalance has a symptom that have made many Filipinas head to their doctor: irregular menstruation. 

Unfortunately, many women wait up to a year since their last menstruation before they consult a doctor, based on Dr. Domingo’s experience. 

PCOS doesn’t just manifest as irregular menses. Those who have it may experience heavy menstrual bleeding. Dr. Doming adds, “Either wala talaga or sobrang duguin (either no bleeding or a heavy one).”

Irregular menstruation is only one of three symptoms that are common to those with PCOS. “To be able to diagnose the condition, you have to have at least two out of three,” said Dr Domingo. 

  • Irregular menstruation because the patient does not ovulate on a regular basis
  • Excess body hair (like on the upper lip and chin) and acne due to high levels of androgen, a male sex hormone, in the body. 
  • Having follicular cysts, measuring at least 9mm in diameter, on one or both your ovaries. This is checked by a doctor via an ultrasound. “[The follicular cysts] hindi ito bukol,” Dr. Domingo clarified. “Ito yung characteristic ng ovary dahil may problema ang pasyente sa production ng hormones, pero hindi siya bukol per se.”

“Women of all races and ethnicities are at risk for PCOS. The risk is further increased in women who have a family history of the disease, are obese, and have diabetes,” she said. 

Infertility and other health risks of PCOS
PCOS is a lifelong disease. The hormonal imbalance can extend up to the post-menopausal stage. “It will affect the woman’s life all throughout. Why is this a problem? The condition is also associated with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart problems. They can also have a higher risk of developing cancer, which is why early diagnosis is important.” 

PCOS is also related to infertility. Dr. Domingo explains, “Sa sobrang taas ng level ng androgen, yung hormone na pang-lalaki, naaapektuhan niya yung pag-produce ng babae ng egg [cell]. ‘Di ka nago-ovulate so it causes infertility.” (It is called chronic anovulation.) 

PCOS causes more than 75 percent of cases of anovulatory infertility, according to Dr. Domingo. And for women with PCOS who do get pregnant, there is increased risk of miscarriages, preterm birth, gestational hypertension, and gestational diabetes. 

Treatment involves fertility pills and a healthy lifestyle. Some patients sometimes disregard the latter, says the ob-gyn, but it’s just as crucial to preventing PCOS from progressing to the health problems mentioned above. “The mainstay of treatment for PCOS is lifestyle modification. Proper diet and exercise to maintain normal BMI is very crucial to achieve regulation of hormone levels.” 

Dr. Eileen Manalo, an ob-gyn and reproductive endocrinologist at St. Luke’s Center for Advanced Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, says the same. PCOS is tied to insulin resistance, she explains, so weight control and physical activity are necessary. “It’s what I always advocate. There are many patients who get pregnant easily or their periods become regular after weight loss.”

There are women who don’t find out about PCOS until they are struggling to get pregnant. Don’t hesitate to consult with a doctor for any irregularities in your menstrual cycle. 

“There is no cure for PCOS, but you can manage the symptoms of PCOS. You and your doctor will work on a treatment plan based on your symptoms, your plans for children, and your risk for long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease,” says Dr. Domingo. 


Motherhood Is Like Working More Than Two Full-time Jobs, Study Says

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/health/wellness/motherhood-is-like-working-more-than-two-full-time-jobs-study-say-a00041-20180410?ref=home_feed_1

Motherhood Is Like Working More Than Two Full-time Jobs, Study Says

Of all the roles women play, being a mom is rewarding, but there is no doubt it is the most challenging. Whether you’re a mom who manages the home, runs a business, or has a career, you have a lot of things on your plate. And even then, there are times when we STILL think we’re not doing enough.

We think it’s time to prove to the doubters — and we’re talking about you, mom — that we are all doing the best we can. We believe moms are superwomen, but even superheroes can’t do everything that needs to be done. If you’re not convinced, a recent study gives an almost precise measure of how any hours moms allot for, well, motherhood.

Researchers observed about 2,000 moms of school-aged kids (aged 5 to 12) in the U.S. and followed them as they shuttled their kids to and from school, extracurricular activities, doctor appointments, and playdates, and more. The goal was to discover hacks, tools, resources, and techniques moms use to keep their family life going, but it also gave people a look into their everyday life.

While the study, commissioned by juice giant Welch’s, is based a particular demographic of American moms, the findings closely resemble the state of Pinoy mothers who have babies and toddlers as well. The results show that an average mom starts her day at 6:23 in the morning and ends at 8:31 p.m. Based on our experience, many Filipina moms start their day at 4 a.m., and it ends at 11 p.m.

In any case, that’s almost 14 hours a day or 98 hours a week, which is equivalent to working two and a half full-time jobs, according to the researchers. Those 14 hours is just for all things related to being a mom. Imagine if a woman has a business, a career, or a home to manage.

The moms in the study revealed they only get to spend an average of one hour for themselves out of the 24 hours in a day. Four out of the 10 moms in the survey described their life as accomplishing one task after another and trying to cross out every item in their never-ending to-do list. Because even when a mom isn’t physically with her kids, she’s still busy with tasks for them.

“The results of the survey highlight just how demanding the role of mom can be and the non-stop barrage of tasks it consists of,” Casey Lewis, M.S., R.D. and Health & Nutrition lead at Welch’s told Yahoo News. “Anything that can be done to make mom’s life a little bit easier can make all the difference.”

What are the things that aid moms in keeping their sanity and the family life as smooth as possible? The research sums it up with a list of things that the moms tagged as “lifesavers,” or things that help them so much they probably couldn’t live without it. Working Mother Research Institute reveals these are the moms’ lifesavers’ top five:

  • Baby wipes or wet wipes
  • Kids’ TV channels and shows
  • Tablet
  • Drive-thru meals
  • Netflix

Also included in the list are grandparents, a reliable nanny, a constant supply of coffee, being able to put on an effective angry voice, healthy snacks, a stash of toys, and of course wine and the ability to nap. “Husband” didn’t make the top five, and it’s unclear if they made the list at all. It could be a hint though that while there are more hands-on dads today, moms still do many of the child-rearing duties.

Being a mom means multitasking a lot, and we need all the help they can get — and you need to be able to recognize that you need help and learn to ask for help. One can only go on for some time without enough rest. You don’t want to be sickbecause then you might end up doing twice as much work after recovering. 

Moms, you need to make you a priority, too. 

Why Doctors Don’t Recommend Co-Sleeping for Babies Under 6 Months

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/parenting/baby/doctors-avoid-co-sleeping-6-months-a00026-20180319?ref=home_feed_1 

Why Doctors Don't Recommend Co-Sleeping for Babies Under 6 Months

Co-sleeping, where a parent and her child sleep in the same bed, is common in the Philippines. But doctors are urging parents not to co-sleep with their infants at least until your baby knows how to roll over due to the risk of death due to suffocation, strangulation, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

In the United States, “the number of babies dying from accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed skyrocketed 184% from 1999 to 2015,” according to new statistics released this February by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), reports WebMD.

In the AAP’s updated safe sleep recommendations, the guidelines state that co-sleeping should be avoided “preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months.” Moreover, babies should “share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface,” says the AAP. 

The separate sleeping surface can be a crib or bassinet placed in the same room where mom and dad sleep. This room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.

Co-sleeping with an infant be more natural during night feedings, but the risks are not worth it. Even for breastfeeding mothers, the AAP still recommends avoiding co-sleeping. At night, you can feed on your bed but place your baby back in his sleeping surface after. “If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up, be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed,” says Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, a co-author of the AAP safe sleep report. 

Another reason why co-sleeping is dangerous for infants of a parent’s bed, which is rarely bare. A baby’s sleeping space should only have a firm mattress and a tight-fitting bed sheet — no pillows, blankets, stuffed toys or any other soft items as these also pose risks for accidental suffocation, strangulation, and SIDS.

When you place your baby down to sleep, remember that he should be lying down on his back as well. “Over the past several years, research has learned a vital lesson that can help reduce the risk of having SIDS — keep the babies on their back when they sleep,” explains Dr. Philip S. Chua, the chairman of cardiovascular surgery at Cebu Doctors’ Hospital. This should be followed until the baby is 1 year old.

“The old teaching was that the babies should sleep on their tummy. That advice was abandoned because of the observation that the prevalence of SIDS was very low among those babies who slept on their back, and higher among those who slept on their stomach,” adds Dr. Chua.

As WebMD points out, a baby placed on his side can roll over on his stomach. It’s a position that “puts your baby’s face in the mattress or sleeping area, which can smother him.”

“Once your baby can roll over both ways, which usually happens around 6 months, he may not stay on his back. That’s okay. It’s fine to let him choose his own sleep position once he knows how to roll over,” WebMD adds.

SIDS, or the unexplained death of an otherwise healthy baby during sleep, is not entirely preventable, but following safe sleep rules helps reduce the risk.


What You Can Expect During Labor and Childbirth

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/pregnancy/labor-and-childbirth/6-things-you-can-expect-during-labor-and-childbirth-adv-con?ref=home_feed_1

No matter how many times you’ve discussed your birth plan with your doctor, it’s very likely that you’re going to encounter a few unexpected things on your actual delivery date. When the going gets tough, the best thing an expecting mom can do is to not panic and manage her expectations. Here’s a list of unexpected things you should brace yourself for: 

You will feel labor pains that do not necessarily mean you’re about to give birth.

There are contractions that may come and go in short bursts, which are called false labor pains or Braxton Hicks. They are described as a tightening in the abdomen, minus the regular intervals.

True labor happens when your contractions come at regular intervals for 30 to 70 seconds. Gradually, the contractions come closer and stronger together. You will most likely feel the pain coming from the lower back, all the way to the front abdomen.

You may feel your child shift position a few hours before actual labor. 

This is called “lightening”—it’s when your child positions himself down into your pelvic area. Your baby will descend from under your ribcage, which can put pressure on your rectum. However, not all moms experience lightening pre-labor, so unless you actually feel it during your delivery day, there’s no need to panic.

You may not feel your water break.

Not all pregnant women will feel the water gush down when their water breaks. In fact, it only happens to one out of four pregnant women. The risk of infection to your baby increases when the amniotic sac breaks, so get in touch with your doctor as soon as it happens.

Hospital procedures vary from mom to mom.

Upon admission, the doctor will conduct a vaginal examination. The frequency of the examination depends on the rate of progress during labor. If the water bag already broke, fewer examinations will be performed to prevent infections that can affect the baby.

Since your little one will be squeezed, compressed, and pushed during labor, fetal monitoring is required in order to gauge the response of the baby’s heartbeat to the contractions of the uterus. 

Lastly, if you’re in active labor and your cervix is around five to six centimeters, an epidural anesthesia will be given. 

You may poop during delivery.

It’s not something to be embarrassed about! Do what comes naturally—push when you feel the urge unless your doctor tells you otherwise. And since all of your energy is on the perineal area, it’s not uncommon for your body to push out anything in your rectum.

Don’t feel bad about it—nurses with sterile pads will be there to clean up after you during the whole process. 

Your baby will be given an “oil bath” once he’s out of the womb.

After doctors and nurses suction out excess mucus and any secretions from your baby’s mouth and nose, he will be cleaned using a gauze with baby oil. This will eventually be followed by a warm bath, using a gentle soap.

Once you bring your baby home from the hospital, you will need to give him a bath at least twice a week with warm water and a mild soap like Baby Dove.

It all sounds nerve-wracking, but it’s all part of the delivery. Once you’ve done your research and oriented yourself with the things that can happen, the worrying can stop and the actual preparations can start.

It would be wise to prepare for all of baby’s firsts at home way before your delivery date. Research on trusted brands like Baby Dovenot only are its products mild, but it also helps moisturize baby’s skin making it less prone to rashes and allergies. From a mild hair-to-toe wash to a soothing lotion, you are sure to keep your baby’s skin smooth and moisturized.

And when things don’t go the way you want them to, be flexible and have an open communication with your doctor. Don’t worry and remember that there are no perfect moms, just real ones. #RealMoms

To Post or Not to Post? These Moms Say It’s Your Wall, Your Rules

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/parenting/real-parenting/to-post-or-not-to-post-a1741-20180311-lfrm

To Post or Not to Post? These Moms Say It's Your Wall, Your Rules

In this day and age, parents can capture almost everything their kids do: Cute smile, adorable first words, grades in school, beautiful OOTDs, and a whole lot more. This treasure trove gets stored in our phones, computers and electronic gadgets, of course. But more often than not it finds its way first on our social media for our family and friends to see. 

Whenever there’s a cute photo or a funny video of my baby that I want to share on social media, I ask myself to post or not to post? In my heart, I want to shout to the world how proud I am when she shows her charming smile, when she hits her milestones early, and when she does silly things. But sometimes my mind says, “Naku, baka nauumay na sila.” 

Is it so wrong to overshare? I asked my fellow moms about their opinions, and here’s what they have to say.

Katrina Del Rosario, mom to Keiko, 3, shares photos twice or thrice a week, and she looks forward to her friends’ baby posts as well. “Sharing stuff about them is one way to put good vibes out there. Innocent and cute kids are what we all need to see at least 10 times a day or more.” 

It used to cross her mind that people might get tired of too much posting. But Kat said parents would understand and won’t judge the tons of baby posts on their feed. “My wall is only for those who appreciate, and I have friends and relatives who like what I post. Why would I care about the rest? They can unfollow anytime. My Facebook account is my way to have a little space on the Internet. Deal with it.”    

For Jacquelyn Francisco, mom to Hans, 4, and Pia, 11 months old, sharing her kids’ milestones on social media is a good avenue to update her family and friends. Her Facebook account is set to private, however, and she does not accept strangers’ requests to be friends. 

“I don’t mind being flooded with baby posts. But I understand not all people are happy with that. We cannot please everybody, anyway. But if our Facebook friends are indeed our friends, I’m sure they are happy to know and share our happiness.”  

Jacquelyn adds she finds a parent’s post often helpful. “I even get to know products which they use for their kids or places they go to with their kids, and I can immediately ask my friends for feedback.”

Mayet Pua, mom to Zeia, 5, and Zane, 1, posts about her kids on social media every time she feels like sharing it, which can happen one to five times a week. “We share the memorable experiences and moments that make us feel happy and proud of our kids.” 

She also does not mind seeing a lot of posts about kids from other parents and friends. “People’s varying tolerance of each other’s’ post applies to any topic, be it political, social, religious, or too much baby posts. It’s normal to have different reactions, and it’s not something I bother myself with.” 

Vanessa Joy Dadufalza, mom to Vikka, 4, says, “Everything in excess is bad, as long as it’s not posting/sharing excessively and not posted as public it’s fine with me. Nothing that would embarrass my daughter is okay.” 

Tin Lalchandani, mom to Sarika, 3, sees nothing wrong with posting a lot of stuff about her kid on social media. That said, she says, parents should inform themselves of the risks involved (e.g., privacy) and guard those risks (e.g., limit which info to share, and to whom you share that info).

Clarins De Jesus, mom to Gabe, 3, is careful about who her audience is, and she prefers it if people will ask her permission before posting a photo or video of her daughter. “I filter what I post. If I know my kid will be embarrassed by the photo/video in the future, I prefer not to post it.” 

Chesca Borromeo-Padilla, mom to Noelle, 2, and a baby boy on the way, only posts occasionally. “I am a bit modest when it comes to sharing photos and videos of my daughter on social media. I share them privately with loved ones via messenger apps instead.” 

For Chesca, sharing the joys of parenthood is always a good thing especially parents nowadays are information driven. “It always pays to be well-informed. Now there’s an array of approaches on how to raise a child; it is just a matter of choosing what works for your family.” 

Sheila Manzate-Rapatalo, mom to Sophia Ryanne, 4.5, looks at posting photos and videos as a way to connect and bring a smile to family and friends. “I think sharing in itself can’t be classified as good or bad (except on sensitive photos of course). But otherwise, for me, just take posts for its face value. Don’t put any meaning behind it.”

May Camacho used to get annoyed by too many baby posts. But it all changed when she became a mom to daughter Lucia, 1. She admits, “I thought those parents were so full of themselves, their perfect lives, perfect babies, just too much for me. You don’t fully fathom what it’s like until you become a mom. But now, I do not care if people get annoyed with my posts. They can always unfollow or hide my posts if they wish to.” 

While she welcomes baby posts, she has also learned to veer away from some pages. May said “I slowly unfollowed some of them. It is but human to compare but seeing how ‘perfect’ they frame their lives doesn’t add value to mine. I want to cherish and celebrate my baby on her own, without comparison and competition.”

Sasha Belmonte, mom to Hope, 2, fears that her daughter’s photos would end up in the wrong hands especially now that nothing seems private on social media. But she still shares pictures of her daughter. 

I asked if other parents’ post affect her parenting style. Sasha replied, “Sometimes, we think that other parents have it way easier than we have, that they are better parents, that their kid is smarter than ours or vice versa. We should not let these ‘post worthy’ statuses affect us. After all, we are parents who do what we think is best for our kids. And we must be mindful of our motives when we are posting our ‘proud parent’ moments.”

Akira Valencia Sullano, mom to Matteo, 1, is a staunch supporter of sharing positivity and encouraging others especially first-time moms like her. “It’s all about acceptance and respect. Whether you belong to those who would like to keep her kid’s life private or the latter, it’s your preference.

“There should be a healthy balance between what we share and the frequency when doing so. If you go through my social media, you will find photos of my son’s birthday celebration, milestones, any new thing I discover about him, which is pretty much every day. But not all of them will land on my social media. I tend to be very picky on what I post especially that people in the digital world can be very critical and unforgiving to the point of bullying.” 

Asked if social media has helped or affected her parenting style, Akira said, “Social media is a powerful tool to encourage, inspire and even enforce. But it’s a double-edged sword and can pose a great danger to how we manage our lives, including parenting style. Admittedly, we, millennial parents, can be competitive. We should limit ourselves from comparing our kids with others to avoid unnecessary stress and unconsciously putting senseless pressure to our child.”

Social media is a platform for sharing. Some posts about their travel and food trips; others post their selfies and relationships. A lot are posting about their political and social views (or rants). So, we, parents are just happy to share our precious children, and I think there’s nothing wrong with that. Walang basagan ng trip, right? 

Longer Maternity Leave Will Be the Best Gift This Women’s Month

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/life/news/call-on-congress-to-pass-expanded-maternity-leave-a00041-20180309

Longer Maternity Leave Will Be the Best Gift This Women's Month

It’s been over a year since the Senate passed Senate Bill No. 1305, or the Expanded Maternity Leave Act. Where is it now? It’s pending with the House of Representatives (HOR), which has not approved its version, House Bill No. 4113or the Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) Bill. 

“We call on our representatives in Congress — including the majority floor leader, [Rodolfo] Fariñas — to please support [the bill] and be the EML champion of the respective constituencies. We call them to action and give us a reason to celebrate Women’s Month,” Shirley Yorong of IndustriALL Women-Philippines said in a press conference in a GMA News report. 

GMA News reports that Yorong mentioned during the press conference that the EML bill is “stuck in second reading.” 

Currently, the law provides 60 maternity leave days for women who gave birth via natural vaginal delivery and 78 for women who delivered their baby via C-section. The Philippines has the lowest number of paid maternity leave days — the International Labor Organization (ILO) recommends 90 days.

The Senate’s version of the proposal extends a new mom’s maternity leave to 120 days, with an option to transfer a maximum of 30 days to their husband, partner, or family member who can help them care for the new baby. The bill also proposes to give mothers the option to extend for another 30 days without pay.

EML, the pending bill in Congress, is a bit different. Instead of 120 days, it extends a new mom’s maternity leave for 100 paid days with the option to extend for another 30 days without pay. But the provision to transfer a maximum of 30 days to the husband, partner or family member is also included in the HOR’s version. The proposal, when enacted into law, covers women from both the private and public sector, as long as they contribute to the Social Security System or Government Service Insurance System.  

The EML bill is a consolidation of a total of 15 different versions submitted, but it all sought to extend the existing 60-day maternity leave of new mothers. More than 70 lawmakers, co-authors of the proposal, recognize that Filipino mothers need more time to recover from childbirth and more time to care for their newborn child. 

We agree and firmly believe that families will benefit with more extended maternity leave. Regional studies have shown that letting a new mom focus on her health, her baby, and her family before returning to work benefits not only her but also her employer. 

 HOR committee on Women and Gender Equality chairperson Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy emphasized that the bill is primarily for the health of the mother and her child. “If we ensure that both woman and child are productive members of society, how can we not have a better future ahead of us? We’re actually taking care of our country,” she said during the press conference. (Senator Risa Hontiveros share the same sentiments, calling the bill an investment in the Filipino society. Read about it here.)

Yorong surmises that our lawmakers need a nudge or two to prioritize passage of the bill. For starters, Congress needs to pass their version before a bicameral committee can be convened. The bicameral committee will then draft a final proposal which would be submitted to the president for his signature. Herrera-Dy hopes that the bill gets approved before March 23.

“Iregalo niyo na po sa hanay ng mga kababaihan at sa buong sambayanang Pilipino ngayong Women’s Month: Expanded Maternity Leave Bill, ipasa niyo na po,” Yorong said.

Let your voices be heard. Send your congressmen and congresswomen a letter or an email declaring your support for the Expanded Maternity Leave Act, so that we may help push this proposal to become law.

Are You at Risk of Having a Miscarriage? 6 Common Reasons It Happens

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/pregnancy/getting-pregnant/miscarriage-causes-symptoms-a00228-20180305?ref=home_feed_1

Are You at Risk of Having a Miscarriage? 6 Common Reasons It Happens

In an ideal world, every mother-to-be would have the smoothest, happiest pregnancy. Except, it doesn’t always happen. 

A lot of women worry about the risks of having a miscarriage, or the loss of a fetus, which typically occurs before the 20th week of pregnancy. According to a 2003 study published in the Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Healthone in three Filipinas have had at least one pregnancy loss in their lifetime. In the United States, roughly 15 to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.

For women who have experienced this heartbreaking loss, the guilt is overwhelming. They think the miscarriage happened because of something they did. “Maybe it’s because I unknowingly ate that raw egg yolk yesterday. Maybe it’s because I didn’t stop drinking coffee.”

The truth is most early miscarriages are caused by genetic abnormalities, and the mother cannot prevent or stop it from happening. 

“[Miscarriages] are commonly due to abnormal chromosomes,” explains Dr. Josephine Carungay, an ob-gyn who holds clinics in Marikina (St. Anthony Medical Center, St. Victoria Hospital, and Marikina Allied Doctors Clinic) and Antipolo (Metro Antipolo Medical Center). It is possble the egg or sperm had the wrong number of chromosomes, and as a result, the fertilized egg wasn’t able to develop normally.

“In most cases, there’s nothing you can do to cause a miscarriage and nothing you can do to prevent it,” says Dr. Siobhan Dolan in an interview with Parents.com. She is a medical advisor for the US-based non-profit organization March of Dimes and an attending physician in the University Hospital for Einstein in New York City.

However, there are several risk factors that may contribute to miscarriages, according to Dr. Carungay. These include: 

  • Age. Older women over 35 are more likely to conceive a baby with a chromosomal abnormality, which may result in a miscarriage. Forty-year-olds are about twice as likely to miscarry than 20-year-olds.
  • History of miscarriages. Those who have experienced two or more miscarriages in a row are more likely to miscarry again.
  • Chronic diseases or disorders. Diabetes and certain inherited blood clotting disorders, autoimmune disorders (like lupus), and hormonal disorders (like polycystic ovary syndrome) increase the risk of miscarriage.
  • Uterine or cervical problems. If you have a congenital uterine abnormality (for example, you have a one-sided uterus) or a weak or incompetent cervix, your chances of having a miscarriage are higher.
  • History of birth defects or genetic problems. This can come from both you or your partner’s genetic background. If you’ve given birth to a child with a birth defect, there is also a higher risk.
  • Infections. Some studies indicate that infections like mumps, rubella, measles, cytomegalovirus, parvovirus, gonorrhea, HIV, and other infections pose a higher risk for miscarriage.

Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Environmental toxins like exposure to lead, arsenic, chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and ethylene oxide, and large doses of radiation or anesthetic gases may also contribute to the risk.

You may also have an increased risk of miscarriage if you get pregnant within three months after giving birth. The World Health Organization recommendsparents to wait at least six months “to reduce risks of adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes.”

The good news is once your baby’s heartbeat has been detected by an ultrasound (usually at six weeks) your odds of having a miscarriage drops significantly

Dr. Carungay, however, cautions: “The normal rate is 100 to 160 beats per minute. If the rate is noted as below normal, there is a chance that the pregnancy will not be successful.” But if you have no symptoms like bleeding or cramping, your odds of having a miscarriage is lower. It will continue to decrease as your pregnancy progresses week by week, according to Baby Center.

One study found that after eight weeks, your risk drops to 1.5 percent. That gives you a 98.5 percent chance of not having a miscarriage.

To lessen the incidence of miscarriage, Dr. Carungay stresses that the mother should also be at the peak of health. She offers the following reminders:

1. Before planning to get pregnant, get a proper medical workup for both you and your partner. While little is known about paternal factors affecting a miscarriage, Dr. Carungay notes that it is also usually due to abnormal chromosomes. Some studies have found a greater risk of miscarriage when the father has been exposed to mercury, lead, and some industrial chemicals and pesticides, according to BabyCenter.

2. Aim for a healthy lifestyle. Avoid drinking alcohol, illicit drugs, and smoking. “Avoid caffeine, too,” she says. “If you must have coffee, limit it to less than 200 mg per day. That’s about one 12 oz cup of coffee.”

3. Take folic acid even before conception. This is an important vitamin that promotes fertility among males and females. And if you are already pregnant, it will also prevent your baby from neural defects.

4. Listen to your doctor. Hanna Diaz, one of the moms who gave birth to a preemie baby who was just 1 pound (read here) told SmartParenting.com.ph wished she knew about her pregnancy sooner so she could have sought better prenatal care.  

It might also help to educate yourself on what to expect on this pregnancy journey and what to look forward to after giving birth. Why not join our upcoming Smart Parenting Baby Shower on March 24 at Makati Diamond Residences? We have talks on childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care! Keeping yourself informed will definitely help put you at ease.

Miscarriage is a scary prospect at the start of pregnancy, but don’t let your anxieties take over. It will only lead to unwanted stress, which can affect your health and your unborn baby. Instead, focus on enjoying your pregnancy — keep the positive vibes and get rid of anything that brings you down! You can do this, mommy!

This Mom’s Simple Technique to Make Her Kids Listen Will Work for You

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/parenting/preschooler/would-this-trick-a-mom-uses-to-get-her-kids-to-listen-work-in-your-household-a00026-20180301?ref=home_aside_popular

This Mom's Simple Technique to Make Her Kids Listen Will Work for You

“My voice has lost some power,” says mom and writer forParent Co Curry Winters. She has three young kids and when she calls their names, “I am met with silence,” Curry shared. “Their lack of response makes me unsure if my directions are going to be followed.” 

This is a scene typical of households with young kids, specifically preschoolers, who are testing out their newfound independence with defiance and stubbornness. Curry sought for solutions and found one that actually works for her: clapping a rhythm and expecting them to clap the same rhythm back to her. 

Her trick is based on insight from Robert Abramson, director of the Dalcroze Institute in Manhattan, who said that a combination of rhythm and movement help school kids learn to pay attention. “You make a game of it,” he told The New York Times. And kids love games, right?

“So, I began to use a simple technique heard in many schools — a rhythmic clap that my kids have to repeat,” she said. The parenting trick grabs her kids’ attention and, because they have to respond back, also gets to stop whatever it is they’re doing. This way, they’re ready to listen to whatever she has to say. “It is clear and direct. It doesn’t make me want to scream and yell in frustration!” explained the mom.  

“Clapping has become a training step in showing respect, responding in a timely manner, obedience, and how to listen for cues. It has created a habitual response that keeps their brain engaged,” she added.

Tired of yelling and want to try it at home? You want your kids to start packing up their toys, for example. You enter the room and clap to the rhythm of the first line of the Happy Birthday song. Once you’ve established the rules on what they’re supposed to do, ideally, upon hearing this, your kids will stop what they’re doing to clap the rhythm back. 

Why does the trick work? It’s because connecting is the first step in communicating with your child — even you’re just telling him to get dressed or clean up. To be able to do that, you have to first get your child’s attention to make sure he’s ready to listen. 

The mom achieves this through rhythmic clapping. Try this advice as well from psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham. She said to touch your child’s arm or make a comment on what she’s doing (“I like that tower you’ve built but it’s time to clean up”) to get her attention. She added, “Don’t try to give instructions or requests from across the room. Move in close.” 

Yelling isn’t something you want to happen often in your home too. First, because it can ruin your mood — and it’s not good for your vocal chords. But also, overtime, it becomes a bad habit for you and the kids. 

“Your kids are effectively learning that they can ignore you until you yell, or to put it another way, that you only really mean it when you yell. And you are learning from their response to yell in order to get their attention,” said Erica Reischer, Ph.D., a psychologist, parent coach and author, in an article for Pschology Today. “Over time, this dynamic creates a dysfunctional pattern of communication that keeps everyone stuck.”

Keeping your cool is definitely a challenge when the kids are seemingly refusing to listen on purpose, but remember that it’s difficult to connect with your child — and hard for him to listen to you — when you’re yelling. (If you’re looking for a parenting trick on how to keep yourself from yelling, this mom has one that’s easy to do.) 

Measles Outbreak in Zamboanga: DOH Urges Parents to Vaccinate Kids

SOURCE: https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/health/your-kids-health/measles-outbreak-declared-in-zamboanga-doh-urges-parents-not-to-stop-vaccinating-kids-a00026-20180228?ref=home_feed_1

Measles Outbreak in Zamboanga: DOH Urges Parents to Vaccinate Kids

The Department of Health (DOH) declared a measles outbreak in Zamboanga City with a reported 166 cases in the last two months alone. Rising infection rates were already seen in August 2017.

The viral respiratory disease took the life of a 6-month-old boy. He “presented all signs and symptoms of measles such as fever, rash, cough, coryza (inflammation of the membranes in the nose), conjunctivitis (eye redness), malaise (discomfort or uneasiness), and dyspnea (difficulty breathing),” said the DOH.

The outbreak was attributed to low vaccination rates. The last measles supplemental immunization conducted in the area was in 2014, according to the health agency.

Just last month, January 22, a measles outbreak was declared in Davao City, which took the lives of four children age 4 years old and below. Low vaccination coverage was also noted in the whole Davao region. 

To increase vaccine coverage in Zamboanga, the DOH conducted catch-up immunization programs in affected areas in the last quarter of 2017, and an outbreak immunization response was also conducted this month. 

“Although some sectors may attribute the outbreak to the Dengvaxia issue, it is actually the result of low measles vaccine coverage in the past years, which led to the accumulation of susceptible individuals,” said DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III. “Let me reiterate that vaccination is still the best protection against this particular disease.”

The Dengvaxia controversy caused many parents to fear the vaccines of other diseases. It is this unfounded and misplaced apprehension that has affected Philippine vaccination rates. 

“Vaccination rates are suffering,” Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo told The Philippine Daily Inquirer. The turnout for the first DOH deworming program of the year was “very low,” and immunization programs for diseases like polio, measles, tetanus, and diphtheria have also been affected. “The parents are really afraid, but this doesn’t mean that we should be paralyzed with fear,” he said. 

Both public and private health professionals continue to ask parents to bring their kids for their scheduled immunization. A statement published on the website of the Philippine Pediatrics Society reads, “The only way to continue to prevent daily epidemics of these infectious diseases is to sustain a high rate of immunization/vaccination in our population. This will not be possible if parents refuse to consent to vaccination for their children because of fear.” 

The statement was signed by at least 58 Filipino doctors and scientists including Dr. Agnes D. Mejia, the dean of the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines Manila, former DOH secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral, and Dr. Salvacion R. Gatchalian, the vice president of the Philippine Pediatric Society. 

Sec. Duque urged parents to “not lose sight of the benefits” of vaccines that have been proven to be effective. A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) show a significant decline in confirmed measles cases from 2011 and 2012 — a success attributed to the government measles vaccination program.  

Just November last year, WHO also announced that the Philippines has successfully eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT), a bacterial disease that is fatal to fetuses and newborns. The incidence rate of MNT in the country is now less than one tetanus case per 1,000 live births in every district. It is, again, a success attributed to a successful immunization program, this time for pregnant Filipino women.

The DOH Expanded Program on Immunization was established in 1976 and initially included shots for six vaccine-preventable diseases. Today, the national immunization program protects against many more life-threatening diseases (see a list of them here). Most of the vaccines are available in health facilities, centers and clinics for all Filipino children free of cost. 

Doctors behind the statement published in PPS also stress that, to those who have had dengue in the past, Dengvaxia gives “persistent, long-term protection.” Despite this, Dengvaxia may have already, possibly irreversibly, altered Filipino parents’ view of the dengue vaccine — many fear for their children’s lives and feel anger towards those deemed responsible. 

The government, working together with experts from the Philippine General Hospital, continue to investigate cases with their latest findings showing that, so far, no deaths have been caused by the vaccine. 

Whatever the Dengvaxia findings reveal in the future — pushing for its safety or against it — one collective voice from the health experts stands out: Don’t lose trust in other time-tested, proven safe and effective vaccines. 

New Estimate of the Share of Children Being Raised by Married Parents

SOURCE: https://ifstudies.org/blog/1-in-2-a-new-estimate-of-the-share-of-children-being-raised-by-married-parents

When it comes to today’s children, we often think about “privilege” in terms of the access to education, income, and good neighborhoods that some children benefit from and others do not. Certainly, these three forms of privilege matter for children’s welfare and for their shot at the American Dream, as Richard Reeves reminds us in Dream Hoarders.

But there is another form of “privilege” that is often overlooked in contemporary debates about children’s welfare and futures: that of growing up in a stable two-parent family—loving and being loved by one’s two parents, who are also committed to one another and to the integrity of their family. We know that children who grow up in such a stable, married family are more likely to flourish educationally, socially, and economically.

So how many of today’s young people experience this stable family structure throughout childhood?

The answer is about one-in-two, according to our new analysis of survey data files recently released by the U.S. Department of Education.1This figure is based on the proportion of 17- and 18-year-old high school students who were reported to be living with both their married birth mothers and biological fathers in 2016.2 The fact that they were still living in such families at the culmination of their schooling means that the vast majority of them grew up in them since birth. Some may have experienced parental conflicts or temporary separations, to be sure,3 but not the kind of conflict that resulted in permanent splits. Their parents were able to work things out and the marriages endured.

As shown in Figure 1, another 15% of today’s high school seniors lived in a variety of non-traditional two-parent families in 2016: with cohabiting birth parents (2%); with one birth parent and a stepparent (11%); with a heterosexual adoptive couple (1%); or with a same-sex couple (1%). Nearly 30% of high school seniors lived in single-parent families, with either their birth mothers (23%) or biological fathers (6%).

The remaining 6% of students had experienced multiple disruptions in their family lives and resided with neither birth parent. Three percent lived with a grandmother, grandfather, or both grandparents, without their mother or father being present. One percent lived with a single step or adoptive parent. Another 2% lived with foster parents or other relatives or unrelated guardians.

More Education, More Family Stability

The more education a woman or man has, the more likely she or he is to get married and stay married when raising children. As shown in Figure 2 below, among high school seniors whose parents or guardians had a college education or more, 64% lived with married parents throughout childhood in 2016. An additional one percent lived with cohabiting birth parents.4 By contrast, among students whose parents or guardians had less than a high school education, only 29% lived with married parents from birth to the end of high school. Two percent more of these students lived with cohabiting parents. Falling between these high and low education groups were students whose parents or guardians have completed high school or have some college but no degree: 41% of these students lived with both married parents throughout childhood, and an additional 3% lived with cohabiting birth parents.

Asian-American Children Enjoy the Most Family Stability

Growing up with both parents throughout one’s childhood is more common among some racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. than among others, as shown in Figure 3. Two-thirds of Asian-American students lived with married birth parents throughout childhood, as did 58% of white students. By contrast, less than one-quarter of African-American students had experienced a stable two-parent upbringing. Hispanic-American and multiracial students had intermediate experiences: 45% of Hispanic students grew up with married birth parents, as did 35% of multiracial and other students.

Growing up with birth parents who continued to live together despite being unmarried also varies across racial and ethnic groups. It is more common among multiracial students (5%), Hispanic students (3%), and black students (3%) than among white students (1%) and Asian students (less than 1%).

The Marital Privilege

Is growing up with married birth parents advantageous for a young person’s school success and later life chances? There is abundant evidence that it is. As shown in numerous analytic studies, students with stably-married parents are more likely to do well in school and less likely to cut classes, repeat grades, be suspended or expelled, or drop out.5 And significant advantages persist after controlling for related factors like parent education level, family income and poverty status, student race and ethnicity, parent involvement, and teacher or school quality. Rich or poor, this is a type of advantage which parents from all social classes can bestow upon their children: the privilege of a growing up in a stable, married two-parent family.

Today in America, only about one-in-two children enjoy this privilege. Because the type of family in which children are raised matters a great deal to their well-being and future success, we should seek ways to enable less-educated and less-affluent parents to raise their children together in a stable family.

Nicholas Zill is a research psychologist and a senior fellow of the Institute for Family Studies. He directed the National Survey of Children, a longitudinal study that produced widely cited findings on children’s life experiences and adjustment following parental divorce.

1. The study was the 2016 National Household Education Survey, Parent and Family Involvement Component, which was a nationwide survey of parents of 14,075 school-aged children and adolescents. See https://www.nces.ed.gov/nhes

2. There were 2,828 students born in 1998 or 1999 in the NHES sample. Not all of these students were high school seniors, as some had been held back one or more grades.

3. Some may also have been born to unmarried parents who subsequently got married during the student’s childhood.

4. The parent-education level used in this tabulation was that of the more educated parent or guardian in the young person’s household.

5. For example, see: Nicholas Zill & Christine Winquist Nord (1994), Running In Place: How American Families Are Faring In A Changing Economy and An Individualistic Society. Washington, DC: Child Trends. Nicholas Zill & W. Bradford Wilcox, (2016). Strong Families, Successful Students: Family Structure and Student Performance in Ohio. Charlottesville, VA: Institute for Family Studies. Paul Amato, “The Impact of Family Formation Change on the Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Well-Being of the Next Generation,” Future of Children, 15, no. 2 (2005): 75-96; Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1994); Nicholas Zill, “Family Change and Student Achievement: What We Have Learned, What It Means for Schools,” in Family-School Links: How Do They Affect Educational Outcomes?, ed. Alan Booth and Judith F. Dunn (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1996).

Trends in Unmarried Childbearing Point to a Coming Apart

SOURCE: https://ifstudies.org/blog/trends-in-unmarried-childbearing-point-to-a-coming-apart

Late last year in this space, I offered an overview of a report from Senator Mike Lee’s Social Capital Project about the rise of unwed childbearing. Today, two-fifths of children are born to unmarried mothers, a phenomenon the report traced to declining birth rates among married women, rising birth rates among unmarried women, a fall in “shotgun marriages,” and a decline in marriage itself.

On Valentine’s Day, the project released some additional charts breaking the numbers out by race and educational attainment. The simple way to summarize them is this: In terms of race, old disparities have persisted as unmarried childbearing has risen among all groups. In terms of education, by contrast, we are seeing what Charles Murray called “coming apart”: Nothing much has changed for the highly educated, while the less educated are having children out of wedlock at increasing rates.

Below is the main chart on race. About 70% of black children and more than half of Hispanic children are born out of wedlock today. These figures are far higher than they were decades ago and considerably higher than the rates for whites and those of “other” races—but rates for everyone rose over time.

Source: Social Capital Project, 2018

Another striking chart documents the decline of “shotgun marriage” following an unwed pregnancy. Again, there is both a racial disparity and a dramatic trend over time, but all racial groups saw a big change in the same direction.

Source: Social Capital Project, 2018

The trend is even more dramatic for women under 30 giving birth for the first time. Shotgun marriage was once the norm for white women in this category; now it’s rare for all groups.

Source: Social Capital Project, 2018

Things look different in terms of education. This is a hard trend to sort out because educational attainment has grown over time—those without a high-school degree, for example, are a highly disadvantaged sliver of today’s population but were quite common half a century ago. To address this issue, the authors “defined three categories of educational attainment in each five-year group, attempting to the extent possible to keep each group the same relative size. That is, ‘low education’ in earlier years corresponds to fewer years of schooling than ‘low education’ in more recent years, but roughly the same share of women is in this group every year.”

Here are the overall numbers on the percentage of children born out of wedlock:

Source: Social Capital Project, 2018

As Murray argued, the highly educated are holding on to older family patterns while the less educated are drifting away from them. Perhaps surprisingly, this is evident even in shotgun marriage—the highly educated are more likely than others to marry after an unwed pregnancy, and have changed their behavior less over time:

Source: Social Capital Project, 2018

Unfortunately, though, it is not entirely clear what can be done about any of this. “Reviving shotgun marriage would surely do less for children than reversing the growth in nonmarital pregnancy,” the authors write. “At the very least, nonmarital childbearing—and the forces behind its rise—should be of great concern when considering the wellbeing of children.”

Feminism as the New Natalism: Can Progressive Policies Halt Falling Fertility?

SOURCE: https://ifstudies.org/blog/feminism-as-the-new-natalism-can-progressive-policies-halt-falling-fertility

“American Women Are Having Fewer Children Than They’d Like,” I recently noted in an article for The New York TimesThe article generated pushback, especially from progressives who charged me with ignoring the role that public policy may be playing in keeping American women from realizing their ideal number of children. Take this tweet about my article from Jill Filipovic:

Also telling to see an article hand-wringing about fertility decline, written by a man, that takes the time to blame birth control, lack of sex, and smartphones, but doesn’t mention paid parental leave, affordable childcare, or pregnancy discrimination.

Filipovic raises the possibility that better public policy could help eliminate the gap between women’s achieved and desired fertility. The truth is, that’s a reasonable thing to think: if fertility is low, wouldn’t government policies fix it? Indeed, on the right, this usually looks like expanding tax preferences aimed at childbearing and family. On the left, this usually means either more open immigration or else family-friendly workplace rules in line with the ideas mentioned by Filipovic. But while it seems intuitive, is it actually true that giving extensive paid family leave would boost fertility? Will women get closer to having as many kids as they say they want?

These questions are especially interesting because a number of scholars and politicians have proposed that “feminism is the new natalism.” By this, they mean that nations that pass policies designed to make it easier for women to juggle work and family, afford children, and share caregiving with fathers are likely to enjoy higher fertility levels.

So, is it true that countries with more progressive public policies (and gender norms) are avoiding the recent drop in fertility the United States has experienced?

The most straightforward way to test this is to look at places where such policies do exist. The most extensive family support programs in the world exist in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland). All five countries provide direct payments to families with children, generous paid parental leave, and heavily subsidized public childcare. But does it have any impact on fertility?

The answer seems to be no. Or at least, not very much.

As the above figure shows, the Nordic countries and the United States have seen similar fertility trends in the last 35 years: troughs in the early or mid 1980s, a peak around the early 1990s, decline into the new millennium, then another peak just around the onset of the Great Recession, and, for the most part, decline ever since. Kid-friendly Finland, Norway, and Iceland have all seen declines as steep or steeper than in the United States. Sweden’s decline is slightly less pronounced, and Denmark has managed an increase in recent years; more on that below.

The key thing to note here is that U.S. age-adjusted fertility has usually been higher than most of the Nordic countries, despite less public support for childbearing. And it’s not because we have so much higher desired fertility either. In a 2011 Eurobarometer survey, near-completion-age women in Denmark and Finland both had higher ideal fertility than American women, Sweden was just a bit lower, and Norway and Iceland were left out of the EU-focused survey. In other words, despite generous childbearing support, Nordic women wantedmore kids, but ultimately had fewer kids, than American women.

We can look at the specific policy history in at least one country as well to see what’s going on. For example, the chart below shows Swedish fertility, with highlighted areas showing instances of increases in the generosity of family benefits (there have been no unambiguous decreases of which I am aware).

There is no association between increases in family benefits and fertility. Assessing these as time-series interventions yields no significant results: Nordic-style policies just don’t budge fertility all that much. Similar results show up for other Nordic countries. While some policy interventions do have limited, especially short-term, effects, the average Nordic-style policy intervention doesn’t do very much for age-adjusted fertility. The academic literature on leave is mixed, but tends to show that there are substantial effects on short-term fertility as women pull births forward. But as I’ve discussed for financial incentives for childbearinglong-term effects are very modest, and many papers suggest there are no long-term effects at all.

The most compelling and widely cited paper on the topic suggests that adding an entire year of paid leave boosted the odds a woman had an extra birth within 3 years from about 32% to about 40%. Decomposing into annual odds, that comes to about 9.7% odds in a year before leave extension to about 11.7% after. Put in U.S. terms, that’s like saying a year of paid leave might boost the total fertility rate from 1.77 births per woman to about 1.81. That’s something. But it’s not a lot. A year of paid leave would also have significant impacts on employment, wages, or government costs, depending on how it is financed, so, as for financial incentives, we’re talking about a lot of cash for a little bit of fertility gain.

But it may be worthwhile to look at an example country in greater detail. While the U.S. has generally had higher fertility than Sweden, in recent years, that’s swapped, and Sweden is beating us!

Why? Is it that Nordic policies are finally turning the tide on fertility through generous social policies?

Nope! It’s immigration. This next figure shows fertility in the U.S. and Sweden, and also for Non-Hispanic Whites in the U.S., and Swedes born to two ethnic Swedish parents. The Swedish data is approximated based on the share of newborns who have two Swedish parents; actual TFR-by-ancestry data is not available from Sweden’s public statistical website, but while the exact level may be off, the general trend should be about right.

And that trend is down, indeed, down at about the same pace as the United States.

So why is Sweden’s fertility rising? It’s rising because of non-Swedes, particularly immigrants from non-Western countries, and, in recent years, asylum-seekers from conflicted countries in Africa and the Middle East. Sweden has experienced incredibly high immigration in recent years; much higher inflow rates than the United States, and of largely lower-skilled individuals from high-fertility countries. That’s a recipe for higher fertility! The chart below shows that parts of Sweden with faster growth in the foreign-born population are also the parts with the best performance for age-adjusted fertility.

Now, if unlimited inflows of low-skilled immigrants from high-fertility countries qualifies as a “Nordic” policy then, sure, Nordic policies can boost fertility. But nowadays, the countries sending many immigrants to the United States, like China, India, and Latin America, have pretty low fertility too. We would have to ramp up inflows of immigrants from the interior of Africa or parts of the Middle East to get the bonus Sweden is experiencing.

Ancestry data is also available for Denmark, and in this case direct ancestry data, so it’s not approximated. And there we see that, in fact, Danish-ancestry women have higher fertility than Denmark on the whole! However, non-Western immigrants in Denmark have even higher fertility than Danish women and are a growing group.

But Denmark’s case is curious. Denmark is experiencing a positive fertility swing while other countries are declining, and it isn’t driven by immigration. What’s going on?

According to the 2011 Eurobarometer survey, Danish women have comparatively high ideal fertility, one of the higher ideal fertility rates in the European Union. In fact, desired fertility throughout the Nordic countries seems to be a bit above the Europe-wide average, which may surprise American readers who associate secularism with lower value placed on children. In fact, the lowest desired fertility rates in Europe, outside of formerly communist countries, are the southern European, Catholic strongholds of Italy, Portugal, Malta, and Spain.

Using a variety of government surveys and surveys conducted for academic publication, I’ve assembled a time series of ideal fertility for Denmark (Eurobarometer data, and also various recent academic studies), Sweden (Eurobarometer), Finland, and the United States (General Social Survey). And what it shows is striking.

Desired fertility has plummeted in Finland, and the limited data for Sweden suggests a similar trend may be ongoing. By contrast, desired fertility has remained essentially stable in Denmark, and has actually risen in the United States. This helps explain what’s happening. In Finland and perhaps also Sweden, fertility is falling because, since the recession, something is changing with cultural values for Finns and Swedes: women simply want fewer kids. This isn’t a long-running Nordic trait, but something fairly new. In Denmark, fertility fell during the recession, but fertility desires were more stable, so they bounced back post-recession.

U.S. fertility, meanwhile, has not bounced back, despite slightly rising ideal fertility. It is possible that Nordic-style family support policies can help explain how Denmark’s people were able to afford a fertility rebound so quickly.

On the other hand, maybe it’s dumb luck. Denmark is a very tiny country, and idiosyncratic factors hard to capture in the data could have large effects. Even amid general U.S. fertility decline, states as varied as Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia have managed to achieve multi-year periods of increasing total fertility rates. Random noise in the data can create the appearance of important differences.

And there are good reasons to think Denmark’s boom may be due to fleeting, idiosyncratic effects. First of all, Denmark did not significantly change the generosity of its family and child subsidies in recent years: inflation-adjusted outlays per child on child allowances of various kinds are basically unchanged for a decade or more. Nor did Denmark experience some religious revival: the share of births baptized in the Church of Denmark continues to decline, according to official statistics, even as the share of marriages officiated by a minister of the Church of Denmark also declines. Leave-taking can’t explain the change either, as parents actually take less leave per child as of 2015 than they did in 2009 or earlier. As for public child care, that also doesn’t seem to be the source: Denmark is experiencing above-general-inflation-rate increases in daycare rates, much like the U.S.

Meanwhile, there is a modest correlation between a recent drop in school enrollment and an increase in fertility. It is possible that something has recently changed regarding how much Danish women value getting a master’s degree, inducing more to prioritize a child first. The scatterplot below shows that age-cohort change in school enrollment is a reasonable predictor of change in age-specific birth rates.

But it’s not clear what’s causal here: did higher births induce less schooling? Or was schooling eschewed to enable more births?

One major factor we can probably rule out for Denmark is the economy. Employment-to-population has not recovered at all since the recession for prime-fertility-age Danes.

Whatever the cause, this boom is likely fleeting. The first three-quarters of monthly birth data for Denmark suggest that 2017 total fertility is likely to come in slightly below 2016, which may be the beginning of a new decline as Denmark converges to its neighbors’ fertility trends.

In sum, we don’t know exactly why fertility is falling across so much of the developed world. The persistent decline in fertility currently being experienced is nearly unmatched in its global breadth and its severity since the end of the baby boom in the 1960s and 1970s. But there’s one thing we do know: government policy tools, Nordic-style or otherwise, appear to have very limited impacts on long-term fertility. They may be good for other reasons, of course (I for one think more family leave for parents would be a great thing!), but their impact on women’s ability to achieve their desires is ambiguous at best.

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