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Studies Say Latina Moms Struggle With Pregnancies In Ways That Are Unique To Themselves In Early Stages

By Diana R. Diaz

Welcome to motherhood! Whether you had a difficult pregnancy and delivery or not, you’ve officially crossed over into undeniably the best and hardest years of your life. As a mother myself (of boy-girl twins), I can tell you with all certainty, that nothing, I mean nothing, no book, no blog, no video, can adequately prepare you to ‘do motherhood’ the right way. Simply stated, there is no right way. Our bodies are different, our tolerance levels are different. 

I had a beautiful pregnancy and delivery but struggled tremendously in the weeks and months that followed. Sleep deprivation was harsh and my postpartum depression was oh-so-real. Most of which was triggered by the cultural pressure I felt to breastfeed when my body simply couldn’t. Inevitably I felt like a failure. Truth is, I tried. I tried a lot.  But with every attempt, I felt my mental and physical state take a toll for the worse. It led me into a very dark and lonely place. I share all about it in this video.  In retrospect, I realize that it didn’t have to be this extreme. And while there’s definitely no book with all the magic answers, here are my 3 Survival Tips for New Latina Moms to help you better cope with the unexpected twists and turns of early motherhood. 

1. Don’t Compare Yourself 

zianiarubi/ Instagram

Chances are, you’re exhausted, overwhelmed and quite vulnerable. And since this is your first time having a baby, you have no real measure or point of reference on how early motherhood ‘should’ be. With all this said, it can be easy to fall victim to the comparison game. You might’ve heard that your prima breastfed like a champ; that your tia used a specific baby formula that she swore by; or that your friend willingly and excitedly took 5 years off work to thrive as a stay at home mom. With the constant influx of information, you have to pause and remind yourself that your experiences are unique. As a new mom, you must harness the little energy you have and channel in the areas in your life that really need it. This way, your wellness remains a consistent priority. So next time, instead of thinking of how ‘fulana’ did something a certain way; pause and redirect your thoughts to: 

“Have I taken a shower today?” 

“Have I taken a few whole deep breaths today?”

“Have I looked in the mirror and told myself, wow good job today?” 

2. Breastfeed or Not – YOU Decide 

olaiasusperregi / Instagram

Listen, this isn’t easy. I personally wanted to breastfeed and dreamed of it being such a beautiful and painless experience. I went to all the classes and told myself, I will be like that woman smiling while simultaneously breastfeeding her newborn twins in the cover of a motherhood magazine. None of which actually happened because I soon learned I had hyper-sensitive nipples which made breastfeeding feel like death. Family and friends would kindly but firmly insist I keep trying. As a result, I fell into a feeling of deep sorrow. Ladies, don’t do this. YOU know your body better than anyone. If you are in unruly pain and you know in your gut that your attempts to breastfeed is deteriorating your mental and physical health, please listen to your body, even if it goes against what your mom, suegra or partner may think. Conversely, if you want to breastfeed and feel pressured to stop when you really don’t want to, listen to your gut. It’s important to note that all new moms struggle with breastfeeding. Some moms are total naturals. Other moms struggle a little in the beginning and soon get the hang of it. There are also a number of resources to help with breastfeeding and maternal wellness. My point isn’t to discourage breastfeeding, my point is to encourage self-awareness. 

3. Prioritize Self-Care

In the early months of motherhood, it’s easy to forget to think about yourself, or spending time away from your baby. For some, especially those part of the Latinx culture, this can feel like an absolute “sin”. Regardless, prioritizing self-care is vital to maintaining your mental and physical health. Self-care means different things to different people. Here are some easy ways you can prioritize self-care during early motherhood: 

  • Have a help plan. Yes, this means you should ask for help! Identify 2-3 friends and/or family members that can come and alternate once a week to help you with cleaning, cooking or babysitting while you do some self-care (not to be confused with friends and family that visit to meet the baby). 
  • If you can, hire help to clean and/or cook 
  • Take an extra-long hot shower with your favorite music on full blast 
  • Gym or yoga session once a week
  • Go for a long walk around the block with or without the baby
  • Go for a fast-food run and eat it in your car 
  • Sleep – preferably in a separate room or at a nearby friend’s house 
  • Say no to what doesn’t feel right in your gut 
  • Watch a feel-good movie 
  • Enjoy a pedicure or an actual body massage 
  • A quick drive to your favorite coffee place 

*shout out to my RAWW IG community for sharing their early motherhood self-care activities. 

Follow us on IG at @therawwnetwork 

New CDC Report Tracks Activity Levels Of Adults And Puerto Ricans Are The Second Most Sedentary

Culture

New CDC Report Tracks Activity Levels Of Adults And Puerto Ricans Are The Second Most Sedentary

Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

A new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report reveals that nearly half of Puerto Ricans get no exercise beyond walking to and from their cars and around the house. That’s more than three times the national average. The study concluded that the most significant factor in differences in the prevalence of physical inactivity was when controlled by race or ethnicity. Latinos were found to be the most sedentary (31.7 percent), marginally followed by non-Hispanic blacks (30.3 percent) with non-Hispanic whites having the lowest rate of physical inactivity at 23.4 percent. Respondents were classified as physically inactive if they responded “no” to the following question: “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise?” Every single state or territory found that more than 15 percent of adults were physically inactive.

The lack of physical activity leads to health problems that cost Americans $117 billion annually. The CDC is cautioning Americans, especially Americans of color, that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to 1 in 10 early deaths.

It’s unclear why Latinos and Black Americans are so singularly sedentary.

CREDIT: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL

Some think that the cause is regional in nature. Americans concentrated in cities and urban areas are more likely to get exercise simply because of the proximity to exercise facilities and pedestrian commutes. The map above illustrates the inactivity levels of each state and territory for every American of every race and ethnicity. The South is significantly more sedentary than the North and the West regardless of one’s race or ethnicity. 

That said, when you look at the same states and factor for Latinidad, the statistics significantly worsen.

CREDIT: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL

When race or ethnicity isn’t a factor, Oregon appears as one of the most active states in the country. When you look only at the Latinos living in Oregon, it becomes one of the worst in the country. That means that non-Hispanic white people either have more access to those gym memberships or faraway hiking trails or incorporate it into their culture more than Latinos living in the same area. 

It’s easy to assume the socio-economic factors at play here — that minorities are so disenfranchised that they simply don’t have the time or energy to exercise after their long or labor-intensive workdays. Latinas have the highest lifetime risk for diabetes across all demographic groups, according to non-profit Salud America! A small research study at the Fair Haven Community Health Center found that fear of injury and lack of energy were the most common barriers for Latina women. This is when the cultural trope of Latina moms being afraid for you to go too close to the freezer or you’ll catch pneumonia becomes pathological.

According to the CDC, Hispanic adults are 50 percent more likely to suffer from diabetes and liver diseases than non-Hispanic white adults. Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle have been linked to diabetes meaning that the map of inactivity is bad news for Hispanics. A more sedentary lifestyle has a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes and worsening the effects if someone already has the disease.

Meanwhile, when you look at just non-Hispanic white Americans, the map brightens up just as significantly.

CREDIT: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL

“Too many adults are inactive, and they may not know how much it affects their health,” said Ruth Petersen, MD, Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “Being physically active helps you sleep better, feel better and reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers,” she added in a media statement. The CDC has found that engaging in such physical activity could prevent 1 in 8 cases of breast cancer and colorectal cancer. 

The CDC is working to get more Americans to engage in physical activity for 25 minutes a day by 2027. In order to do this, the Surgeon General has called on cities to consider walkability as part of their city planning process. “Individuals and families are encouraged to build physical activity into their day by going for a brisk walk or a hike, walking the dog, choosing the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, parking further away in the parking lot, walking or cycling to run errands, and getting off the bus one stop early and walking the rest of the way,” the federal agency said in a statement.

The study’s data came from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an ongoing state-based, telephone interview survey conducted by CDC and state health departments. The maps used combined data from 2015 through 2018.

READ: Food, Culture, And Physical Activities Are All Factors In Latinos Being Most Likely To Develop Diabetes

A Girl In Puerto Rico Died From An Illness Because The Only Hospital In Her Area Was Destroyed During Hurricane Maria

Things That Matter

A Girl In Puerto Rico Died From An Illness Because The Only Hospital In Her Area Was Destroyed During Hurricane Maria

@ValericaCollazo / Twitter

There is sad news out of Vieques, Puerto Rico where a young teenage girl has passed away after suffering flu-like symptoms. Jaideliz Moreno Ventura, 13, died on Sunday after her condition worsened she began convulsing. Now, her family is pointing the blame on the island’s inadequate medical facilities. 

Vieques, a Caribbean island off of Puerto Rico’s eastern coast, hasn’t had a working hospital in over two years. That’s because its old primary hospital, Family Health Center Susana Centeno, was closed due to damage from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island more than two years ago.

What started out as just flu-like symptoms turned into a tragedy within the span of three days. 

It all started last Friday when Jaideliz told family members that she was experiencing flu-like symptoms. According to local media, her uncle, Carlos “Prieto” Ventura, said that she had “a fever, a sore throat, and a headache.” She was then taken to a hospital in Puerto Rico for a checkup and to be tested for influenza. While the results of the test came back negative and she returned back home to Vieques, things got worse over the weekend. 

By Sunday, Jaideliz’s symptoms only got worse as she began to have spasms and severe head pain. After the family took notice of her increasingly worse conditions, she was taken to the only health facility on the island, the Center for Diagnostics and Treatment, which was due to Hurricane Maria destroying its old hospital. According to NBC News, the clinic lacked proper medical equipment to help Jaideliz. Her cousin, José Ventura, told the news outlet that the facility didn’t have a working mechanical ventilator for oxygen, only an older manual air pump. 

By 11:30 a.m. local time Jaideliz was pronounced dead as she was being transported to Puerto Rico on an air ambulance. 

For those living on Vieques, receiving medical attention isn’t easy. Many have to take a boat to receive medical attention in Puerto Rico where trip times vary from 30 minutes to multiple hours. 

There is growing anger and blame about the teen’s death with many people pointing blame at the inadequate assistance that Puerto Rico and nearby islands have received since Hurricane Maria hit in 2017. The situation in Vieques is a perfect example of that as residents lack nearby health services and aid. 

“If we had more resources, she would be with us right now,” her cousin told NBC News. “They have forgotten about us.”

Puerto Rico’s Health Secretary, Rafael Rodríguez Mercado, says that he has ordered an immediate investigation into the death of Jaideliz and which circumstances could have caused this tragedy. Back in December, Democratic lawmakers requested an investigation into why FEMA hadn’t done anything to help rebuild Vieques’ only hospital. But lawmakers alerted FEMA about this issue in May but there was never any response. 

“In Puerto Rico, we talk a lot about how we are treated as second class citizens, but the people of Vieques and Culebra [another island off the coast of Puerto Rico] are being treated as third-class citizens,” Edgardo Román Espada, president of Puerto Rico’s Bar Association, told NBC News last May. 

Jaideliz’s family is using this tragedy as a wakeup call for health officials to do something about the deteriorating situation on the island. They are hoping for more medical supplies and equipment so this situation doesn’t happen again.

On Wednesday, a vigil was held in the girl’s honor as her family called for help. They say that they “don’t want Jai’s death to be in vain” and made the plea for more medical assistance. Her mother says the island needs to “have a dignified hospital, with medical equipment and supplies —so that no other mother will have to go through what I am dealing with now.” 

“Up to a point, the people feel abandoned, that politicians come and go, and there are no bonds of affection and our feelings are obvious. We live this problem and that is why our pain here. All this adds more regret and anguish to our people,” her uncle told local media. “This is what you live every moment on our island. We need more sensitivity. ”

This tragedy followed what has already been a tough start of the year for Puerto Rico as a 6.4 magnitude quake shook the island back on Jan.7, killing at least one person, destroying homes and leaving most utility customers in the dark. There has been an estimated $110 million in damages caused by the quake. 

READ: This Photographer Took Hundreds of Stunning Photos of the Most Endangered Indigenous Tribes Across the World