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Is it safe to continue breastfeeding if I’m pregnant with another child?

Many mothers choose to continue breastfeeding throughout pregnancy, while others decide to wean. The following ipregnantwithsonkissinnformation may help you decide what is best for you and your family.

Generally, it’s possible to safely continue breast-feeding while pregnant — as long as you’re careful about eating a healthy diet and diligently drinking plenty of fluids. There’s an important caveat, however. Breast-feeding can trigger mild uterine contractions. Although these contractions aren’t a concern during an uncomplicated pregnancy, your health care provider may discourage breastfeeding while pregnant if you have a history of preterm labor. In an uncomplicated pregnancy there is no evidence that continuing to breastfeed will deprive your unborn child of necessary nutrients. In addition, according to the LeLeche League International Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition 2003, page 407. “Although uterine contractions are experienced during breastfeeding, they are a normal part of pregnancy. Uterine contractions also occur during sexual activity, which most couples continue during pregnancy.” if you are having a difficult pregnancy and are at risk for preterm labor and birth, and in particular, have been advised to avoid intercourse during pregnancy, then weaning would probably be advisable.

It is important to have a healthy diet if you plan to breastfeed during pregnancy. Depending on how old your nursing child is, you may need an additional 650 calories a day if your breastfeeding child is under the age of six months, or about 500 if your child is now eating other foods. This is in addition to the 350 (second trimester) and 450 (third trimester) calories you need during your pregnancy. (No additional calories are needed during the first trimester as you work your way through morning sickness and some healthy foods are just not palatable. In malnourished populations, pregnant, nursing mothers do have lower weight gain and lower weight babies, as well as lower weight nursing siblings, than those who wean.

If you’re considering breastfeeding while pregnant, be prepared for changes your nursing child might notice. Although breast milk continues to be nutritionally sound throughout pregnancy, the content of your breast milk will change — which may affect the way your milk tastes. In addition, your milk production is likely to decrease as your pregnancy progresses. These factors could lead your nursing child to wean on his or her own before the baby is born.

Your comfort may also be a concern. During pregnancy, nipple tenderness and breast soreness are common. The discomfort may intensify while breast-feeding. Pregnancy-related fatigue may pose challenges as well. If you want to continue breast-feeding while pregnant — or breast-feed both the baby and the older child after delivery — you may need additional support from loved ones or other close contacts. Also check with your health care provider about taking supplemental prenatal vitamins.

Info provided from LeLeche League International, Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition, 2003.

Sara Walters, B, Breastfeeding During Pregnancy, Carmathen Wales UK; from New Beginnings, Vol. 25, No. 1, January-February 2008, pp. 32-33

ZIKA VIRUS and PREGNANCY

mosquitoZika Virus: Answers for Pregnant Women

What is Zika virus?

Zika is a virus that’s been around for actually dozens of years; it generally causes a mild viral syndrome and is prevalent in the Tropics—South America, the Caribbean islands, and Pacific islands.

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness.  Most people who are infected with Zika virus have no symptoms. If they have symptoms, they are usually very mild such as fever, rash, red eyes, muscle pain or joint pain. People usually do not get sick enough to be hospitalized and they very rarely die.

Is there a link between the Zika virus and birth defects? Infection during pregnancy can be harmful to the fetus or the newborn. Zika virus has been associated with microcephaly, a birth defect in which the size of a baby’s head and brain is smaller than expected. This birth defect is associated with developmental delays including trouble speaking, problems with movement and balance, hearing loss, and vision problems.

How is Zika virus transmitted? Women can be infected with the Zika virus directly by mosquito bite in an area where there is active Zika transmission or by sexual transmission from an infected male partner.

How can I prevent catching the Zika virus? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that pregnant women, or women who may potentially become pregnant, avoid travel to countries that have been affected by the virus, including a large number of countries in South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. Check the CDC website http://www.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information for a complete list of affected countries. Both pregnant women and their partners should avoid mosquito bites, particularly if traveling to a country that has been affected by Zika. If your sexual partner has recently visited an area with the Zika virus or is infected with the Zika virus, abstain from sex or use condoms throughout the pregnancy.

 If I am going to travel to an affected area, what should I do to prevent catching the virus? Travel to an affected area is not recommended for pregnant women. If travel is completely unavoidable, talk to your healthcare provider and take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. This should include use of EPA-registered insect repellents, wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats to cover exposed skin, and maximizing time spent indoors in air-conditioned or screened rooms.

The recommendations for people contemplating pregnancy are a little bit different. If the woman has been exposed to Zika and gotten sick—meaning she has flu-like symptoms, runny nose, sore throat, low-grade fever, red or itchy eyes—it is possible that it is due to the Zika virus and, currently for people who have symptoms that have been exposed, they can be tested to see if that is true.

For a woman who has been exposed and been sick from Zika, it is recommended  waiting 8 weeks before tyring to conceive. There’s concern for men that the virus can remain in their bodies and be spread through sexual contact. And so for a man who has been sick from Zika, again, been exposed, been in an area and had a viral syndrome, the man can now be tested and, if he’s been sick or tested positive, the current recommendation is that he not have unprotected intercourse with a pregnant woman or try to conceive for 6 months.

If I catch the Zika virus before my pregnancy, is my baby at risk? We do not yet have recommendations about the safe period between infection and conception. However, once the virus is cleared from the blood, prior Zika infection is not thought to affect future pregnancies.

For more information about Zika virus, visit www.ChildrensNational.org/Zika

If you are concerned that you have been exposed to the Zika virus, please talk to your doctor. The Fetal Medicine Institute at Children’s National can work with your doctors directly.

http://childrensnational.org/departments/fetal-medicine-institute

Phone number:  202-476-7409

*SOURCES: Information provided by Children’s National Health System Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

*Excerpts from The Zika Virus and Getting Pregnant, Eric A. Widra, Medical Director,  Shady Grove Fertility

What is a Perinatal Mood Disorder?

Recently, the media has reported several stories relating to perinatal mood disorders (more commonly considered to be post-partum depression, but are not limited to depression). Guidelines around who should get screened and when have taken center stage. Despite this attention, many don’t realize what perinatal mood disorders are or whether or not they are at risk for one.

black-and-white-person-woman-girl-mediumQuite simply, a perinatal mood disorder is a mental health concern that occurs either during pregnancy or post-partum. This can include depression, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, paranoid thinking, and thoughts to harm yourself or your baby. While these concerns exist prior to pregnancy for individuals, they can be exacerbated during pregnancy and after for several environmental reasons: changes in hormones and lack of sleep are two prevalent factors. Of course, not everyone who has a baby experiences changes in mood, and certainly, some people seem to be more resilient during this transition.

Common symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder may include:
*Changes in sleep (not being able to sleep at all, even when the baby is or
oversleeping)
*Irritability
*Fears of something happening to the baby (being dropped, not
breathing, etc)
*Concerns (despite weight gain) that baby isn’t eating enough
*Uncontrollable crying
*Disinterest or lack of connection to the babypexels-photo-48566-medium
*A feeling of not being yourself

Nearly 1 in 8 women (and 1 in 10 men) experience a perinatal mood disorder. Treatment is simple and can range from therapy, medication, or both. However, without treatment, there can be long-term consequences that are dangerous for both mother and baby, as studies of depressed mothers have shown difficulties in their children as they age. There is a simple screening that you can opt to take to see if you might be experiencing a perinatal mood disorder and it can be found here. People who are are risk for developing a perinatal mood disorder include those that have experienced depression or anxiety during pregnancy; those that have a family member who had a perinatal mood disorder; those with a history (or family history) of depression or anxiety; those that have suffered a pregnancy loss; those that conceived through infertility; those with a baby that was in the NICU; teenage mothers; those that are having financial/housing/medical concerns; and those that do not have a social support system or a limited one. Certainly, this is not an exhaustive list, but is inclusive of many “red flags”.

 

If you are concerned about you or someone you know that might be having difficultly adjusting to life postpartum, you can contact your OB-GYN/Midwife/Primary Care Physician about a mental health referral. It is important that the clinician you meet with has experience and training in treating perinatal mood disorders as it is not something that most graduate programs cover.

By Julie Bindeman,  Psy-D

http://www.greaterwashingtontherapy.com/

The Story of the butterfly

strugglesbutterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours
as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and
snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon.
The butterfly emerged easily but
it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge
and expand enough to support the body,
Neither happened!
In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life
crawling around.
It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness
and haste did not understand:
The restricting cocoon and the struggle
required by the butterfly to get through the opening
was a way of forcing the fluid from the body
into the wings so that it would be ready
for flight once that was achieved.
Sometimes struggles are exactly
what we need in our lives.
Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us.
We will not be as strong as we could have been
and we would never fly.
So have a nice day and struggle a little and teach well.

Author Unknown

presented by Ursula Sabia Sukinik

http://www.Birthyoudesire.com

 

TIME – the Most Precious Commodity of All

breastfeeding momMost mothers are stressed when they have a new baby. I absolutely remember how tiring it is to be a mother – and especially when you’re a breastfeeding mother. Being tired is on my mind right now, because in the midst of working with a new breastfeeding mother of a six-day-old, she flat-out told me that, “this breastfeeding thing is taking way too much of my time.” I was left flabbergasted and flap-jawed. What I wanted to say and what I did say were two very different things. What I wanted to say was “Well, what were you expecting? Did you think you were going to drop the baby in the umbrella stand on the way in and out of your front door?” What I actually said is “Tell me how I can help you.”

The mom went on to explain that nursing every two hours was beginning to grate on her nerves. I went on to explain that babies had tummies the size of golf balls and that breast milk was a “perfect food” that made it digest and move through the stomach very rapidly. I quoted how each DROP of colostrum had 3 million cells (the majority being immune cells). Breastfeeding is as much nurturing as nourishing (hoping the old adage would help). I also described cluster feeding as being analogous to a camel getting ready to cross the desert; feed, feed, feed and then you get the big sleep (maybe 4-5 hours max). In my first book “Start Here; Breastfeeding and Infant Care with Humor and Common Sense” I tried to call the hours between 6-10PM the “arsenic hours,” but the publisher opted for something safer like “the witching hours.” I guess that “every hour on the hour” cluster thing is what put this new mother “over the edge.”

So, here are some suggestions I’ve come up with to help you save time during your busy breastfeeding days.

  • If you have an exceptionally sleepy baby (or just have to get the show on the road once in a while), I find that you can feed on one side while you simultaneously pump on the other: Tarzan Pumping (at least that’s what I call it). That trick alone can save you up to a half hour per feeding and maximize your milk supply. Your body will react as it you’re feeding twins (because both sides are going at the same time) and perhaps even increase supply a bit. It will also expedite your feeding and have your baby feel as though a bigger, stronger twin was on the other breast helping him or her out. Now you’ll want to feed that milk to your baby at some point (perhaps during cluster feeding time), as when I previously instructed another mom to do this, she was giddy with her new frozen stash; problem was the baby hadn’t gained any weight in a week…whoops; I should have been more clear with my instructions.
  • Anyone who tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps probably doesn’t shower, do laundry, use the bathroom, open the mail or eat; I never understood that suggestion. I mean, that’s the only time you have to do ANYTHING, isn’t it? So, ALLOWING others to do things for you will help put time back in your day. You shouldn’t feel as though you’re not a good mother if you don’t do everything and do it well (do as I say, not as I do/did). I remember 28 years ago how I came creeping out of my house to get the mail and was spotted by my neighbor. She promptly sent her “nanny” over to my house with instructions to “help that poor woman out.” Problem is that I wouldn’t let the well-meaning nanny in! As I look back on it, I was afraid that I’d be found out; that I’d be “exposed” and my neighbor would know how I wasn’t really holding things together as a mother “should.” In my experience, many mothers feel that same way. They’re overwhelmed but think that they’re the only mother experiencing that. I’m here to tell you that MOST mothers feel overwhelmed in the beginning and if they tell you otherwise, I’d be wary.
  • Remember the saying “time is fleeting,” so are these stages!  Many times these cluster feeds will pass quickly and after a couple days you’ll have an entirely new baby.  It’s important to keep in mind that babies patterns change quickly and you won’t always be feeding around the clock. 

When I heard this mother complaining about time, as I think more about it, I’m suspicious there might be something else going on. Is she depressed? Is she lonely and needs to get out of the house for companionship, does she simply have cabin-fever, or are her expectations unrealistic as to how much time infants take out of a mothers day? What do you think?

Blog written by  Kathleen F. McCue, DNP, FNP-BC, IBCLC-RLC, 

Owner of Metropolitan Breastfeeding

Building a Strong Foundation for Your Pregnancy

Contemplating pregnancy?  Nutritional and optimal health should be priority number one!  Women contemplating pregnancy must keep in mind that healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle behaviors should be established before pregnancy to make sure proper nutrient levels for early embryo development and growth.

Eating a balanced diet that includes the proper amount servings of protein, grains, fruit, and vegetables is key. Protein is essential to the very foundation of your baby’s growth. Eating enough protein ensures that your little one, from the very beginning, is getting adequate food stores to support cell growth and blood production.  Regular exercise should also be incorporated in your daily routine to prepare your body for the demands of pregnancy. Habits such as drinking or smoking must be avoided to allow for optimal health and development of the child during pregnancy and after birth.  Good habits should  include taking a daily multivitamin or a daily prenatal vitamin.  Even if you are consuming healthy foods daily, you can miss out on key nutrients.  A daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help fill any gaps.  A quality, fast absorbing prenatal vitamin is necessary for all the basic micronutrients needed during pregnancy.eat-well-teaser

Through the course of pregnancy there is an increased need for nutrients and calories to make sure proper fetal growth. The increased need for vitamins and minerals such as folate, calcium and iron is necessary to prevent birth defects, ensure proper bone formation/retention, and to reduce the risks of preeclampsia or anemia. Folic acid intake increases to a daily amount of 800 mcg, calcium to 1200 mg, and iron to 30 mg. Your Vitamin D levels should be checked with your initial prenatal labs to be sure you levels are not insufficient or deficient.  Fetal needs for vitamin D increase during the latter half of pregnancy, when bone growth and ossification are most prominent. Vitamin D travels to the fetus by passive transfer, and the fetus is entirely dependent on maternal stores. Your body needs vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which help build your baby’s bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. It may also have an impact on birth weight.  Therefore, maternal status is a direct reflection of fetal nutritional status.

Researchers believe that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect bone development and immune function from birth through adulthood.

Blog by Shelia Kirkbride

Grief and Self-Care

This blog was originally published (by the author) on Reconceiving Loss in July 2015.

It’s the time in your life when the hardest thing to do is to be selfish. Yet, that is how you might feel in terms of your emotions. The sadness, tears, heaving sobs that are unrelenting threaten to unhinge you. You yearn to stop, but you can’t. Those around you try to offer you comforting words or platitudes. Sometimes they help, but often they don’t. This is what grief can look like, particularly the soul-crushing grief of losing a pregnancy or baby.

Through this grief, you often feel alone. Friends and family don’t seem to understand that one month later, you haven’t “snapped out of it” and “moved on.” Your partner is also at a loss for words or actions that might be comforting as he embraces you for the hundredth time. Perhaps he sees the loss differently. Or maybe more time has passed and you even have another baby, yet you still feel some numbness that this new baby hasn’t been able to fully eclipse.

This is the time when you just want everything to disappear. Or you throw yourself back into your life, willing the everyday motions to undo the feelings. You want to be cared for, but all of the attempts of asking aren’t helpful. Perhaps there are a few people that get it, but you don’t want to burden them. The temporary salve they provided in just talking and listening has worn off, and reaching out seems too hard.

A compounded loss in grief is the temporary loss of your sense of self and the idea that you have a semblance of control in your life. Taking this back and reclaiming you can be important and healing through your grief journey. But how? Taking tiny steps to care for yourself. Yes, take care of yourself.

In the throes of grief, it can be difficult to even get out of bed in the morning and go through your hygiene routine. Even past this phase, doing anything pleasurable can seem like plodding through molasses. Often, grieving mothers fear that if they start to engage in life again, that somehow this means that they are forgetting the baby that died. There might be continued focus on trying to achieve a new pregnancy (from yourself or from those around you) as if this is the answer to healing. Ultimately, at the end of the day, you are your own best resource. You are your own best advocate. To do either, you need strength and perhaps the permission that it is OK to matter. It is OK to indulge. It’s OK to ask for a break and to take charge of your needs.

What might self-care look like? It can be as minimal as taking time to journal, take a bath, go on a walk, or sing. Self-care doesn’t have to cost money (as the previous examples suggest) but it’s also fine if it does. Examples might be: a manicure, massage, a weekend retreat, signing up for a class or learning a new skill.) The only limit is you. And you are the only one who is fully able to care for yourself in the way that feels best.

by  Julie Bindeman, Psy-D, Co-Director of Integrative Therapy of Greater Washington

http://www.greaterwashingtontherapy.com/

Peace of Mind; Living Free of Fear of Losing a Child

Your family is your life and protecting your children from harm’s way is a growing problem and now it is now possible with technology.  Your child’s safety and whereabouts can now be monitored via your smartphone.  Children can have the ability to alert you when they are under duress, in trouble or find themselves lost.

Children 2-10 years old, toddlers and even newborns traveling and under supervision of others can be monitored 24/7 in five minute intervals and located immediately and automatically via e-mail or text messaging.  You set the schedule – minutes or hours – and receive regular alerts with the exact location of your child.  An SOS button allows older children to summon for help which includes their location as well as automatic tracking alerts to entrusted individuals you choose to receive them.

This child tracking solution is dependent upon 2 technologies – GPS (Global Positioning System) and wireless communications or cell phone (GSM). Anywhere you can receive both a GPS signal and have cell phone reception, the solution will work.

The solution was developed by the father of a young daughter who became lost at an amusement park for several hours.  After finding her and being an IT technologist, decided to develop a solution for preventing this from happening again.   He funded Amber Alert GPS and engineered the Law Enforcement Alerting Portal (‘LEAP”) used by law enforcement in states to issue the actual Amber Alerts.  The LEAP system is the fastest and most efficient alerting technology in the nation, and allows States to share Amber Alerts cross-borders. To date, law enforcement in the States using the LEAP system have a 100% recovery rate of all children for whom an Amber Alert was issued.

Protect your children.

Love Should Never Hurt

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Joanne sat bruised and exhausted, hugging her large, pregnant belly. In her mid-30s, blonde and blue-eyed, she was a respected teacher in an elementary school, but tonight she felt like a fugitive. Neither her mother nor her sisters knew how to reach her or where to find her. She was ashamed to say anything to them. But, for the first time in months, she at least felt safe. She would sleep tonight in the shelter. In the morning, she would call the school where she taught and tell them she needed a few days off for a family emergency. If she ever returned to her three-bedroom home, she reminded herself, she needed to change the locks on the front door. Joanne was married to a well-educated man, with a good job. He was also a wife abuser.

Joanne is not alone. One out of every 15 pregnant women in the United States is a victim of domestic violence each year.

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Although even one incident is one too many, domestic abuse is defined as a pattern of behavior of threatened or actual violence committed by a current or former intimate partner. Domestic abuse is not only physical violence. Partners can also be emotionally or psychologically abusive by: failing to show affection or caring for a child; interacting only when necessary; staying emotionally uninvolved and detached. Why? The abusive partner usually seeks to gain power and control in the relationship through fear and intimidation. The abuser tries to control his partner’s behavior by isolating her from friends and family, monitoring her movements, belittling or humiliating her in private or in public or restricting her access to financial resources.

The abuser may force her to have sex or to perform sexual acts that make her feel degraded. He may limit her access to medical care or threaten to hurt himself or take away her children if she does not comply with his wishes. Sometimes women are not aware that they are being abused. They may believe that their partner’s behavior is due to a bad day at work, financial pressures, jealousy, depression or use of alcohol or drugs. Often, the abuser will say he’s sorry, bring her gifts, and promise never to hurt her again. Cultural or religious norms may also play a role in one partner’s response to the other’s controlling or punishing behavior.

WHO IS AT RISK?
According to a report released by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Center for Health and Gender Equity, “Violence against women is the pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world…The same acts that would be punished if directed at an employer, a neighbor, or an acquaintance often goes unchallenged when men direct them at women especially within the family.”

A U.S. Bureau of Justice study reports that women of any age and from any racial, ethnic, religious or socioeconomic background may experience physical or psychological abuse from an intimate partner, but that women between the ages of 19 and 29 reported more violence by intimate partners than any other group. In the United States, domestic abuse is also a crime. Although partner abuse exists among same-sex relationships, violence against women is most often perpetrated by a male partner they know and love. Many, like Joanne, are afraid or ashamed to talk about or report it.

VIOLENCE DURING PREGNANCY
Domestic violence tends to begin or escalate during pregnancy. In fact, one in six women reports their first incidence of partner abuse during pregnancy. One study concludes that a woman is more likely to be abused by her partner than suffer from pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes or placenta previa, conditions for which women are routinely checked. The abuser sees his partner’s pregnancy as a threat; he believes she will care more about the baby than about him. Pregnant women in abusive relationships are at higher risk for medical complications that include bleeding problems, miscarriage, vaginal and cervical infections, high blood pressure and premature labor and fetal distress. Abuse in pregnancy also increases the risk for low-weight gain and low birth weight infants. Once the baby is born, domestic abuse may escalate.

WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?
Young children are often silent witnesses to domestic violence, and many are also the targets of their fathers’ physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Each year an estimated 3.3 million children in the United States are exposed to violence by family members against their mothers or female caretakers. Children exposed to violence at home are likely to suffer from chronic depression and anxiety and may express their sadness and anger through acting out, defying people in authority and through other behavioral problems. Children may become too traumatized to learn or develop normally and may be unable to reach their full potentials as adults. Children who witness domestic violence at home are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults. Experts say young girls are more likely to tolerate abusive behavior from their own intimate partners, and young boys are more likely to become abusers themselves.

One in every five women who seeks medical care in emergency rooms is there as a result of injuries inflicted in a domestic violence dispute

U.S. businesses spend an estimated $5 billion dollars a year on medical expenses related to domestic violence and another $100 million per year for lost wages, time away from work, and employee turnover directly related to family violence.

More than 1 million women a year seek medical assistance for potentially lethal injuries caused by battering.

Approximately 2,000 to 4,000 women in the United States are killed each year by abusive partners or ex-partners.

Making a Safety Plan
When you feel ready to leave your home, it will be helpful to have put aside some things that you will need. It may be safer to keep those items at a neighbor’s or a friend’s house:

Extra set of car keys
Cash, checkbook or credit cards
Driver’s license and social security cards (for you and your children), green card, passport or work permit
Clothes for yourself and your children
Birth certificates
Children’s school records
Health insurance cards
Court papers or court orders
Lease agreements or mortgage payment book

Taking the First Step
Making a decision to end a relationship with an abusive partner is often difficult. For some women, it is the desire to protect their children that brings them to the point of asking for help. Taking action is hard because domestic abuse usually takes place over a long period of time and a woman’s self-esteem and confidence are slowly eroded. She becomes isolated from her community, friends and family. A woman may also remain in an abusive relationship because she is afraid of what family members may say or because she lacks financial resources. She may worry about compromising her partner’s professional status in the community. Often, she still has hope that the abuse will stop and that her partner will come to his senses. Each woman knows when she is ready to leave an abusive relationship. When she does, she can take the first step toward ending the abuse by asking her midwife, other healthcare provider, the police or her employer-assistance program for help.

BREAKING THE SILENCE
Help is available. Call the toll-free National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233). From all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S.Virgin Islands, victims of domestic violence, their families and friends receive crisis intervention, referrals to shelters, medical care, legal assistance and social-service programs. Trained counselors who speak more than 125 languages are available.

Are You in a Dangerous Relationship?
Your partner may be a good provider, a successful and respected member of his profession, even a caring father of your children. You may still love your partner and he may be sorry for hurting you and may promise never to do it again. However, he may also behave in ways that are considered abusive and illegal.

How can you tell?

Have you ever been afraid of, or felt threatened by your partner?
Do you worry that things you do may cause your partner to get angry, emotionally abusive or physically violent?
Has your partner ever attempted to injure you physically by grabbing, punching, kicking, arm twisting,choking or pulling your hair?
Has your partner ever hurt your pets or destroyed your clothing or other things you care about?
Has he threatened to destroy or take away your home or personal property?
Has your partner prevented you from taking medication, seeking medical care, or insisted on being present at all medical appointments?
Does your partner control your access to financial resources? Decide what and how much you can buy? Control the bank accounts? Refuse to pay bills?
Does he hide deeds to your home, wills, financial savings, and passports?
Has your partner threatened to harm himself or other people you care about? Has he ever threatened to harm or take away your children?
Does he prevent you from communicating with other people by withholding phone calls, keeping you from speaking with or visiting co-workers, friends or family? Prevent you from going to work or school?
Do you feel as though he is constantly checking up on you?
Does your partner often put you down, devalue your abilities, and make you feel guilty,or embarrass you in front of others?
Does your partner demand to have sex when you don’t want to or when you are ill? Force you to perform sexual acts that make you uncomfortable or hurt you? Hurt sexual parts of your body? Insist on unprotected sex or use of pornography?

If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, know that none of this behavior is acceptable; you don’t deserve it. You may want to seek counseling. If you feel you are in danger, help is available to you 24 hours a day when you are ready to seek it. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free, (800) 799-SAVE (7233) or (800) 787-3224 (TDD). You don’t have to give your name, and your wishes will be respected. Trained counselors who speak several languages are available immediately. They can provide crisis assistance and information about shelters and health care centers, as well as free legal assistance and counseling. If you are in immediate danger, you should call 911.

Domestic violence is not biased, it crosses all socioeconomic backgrounds. Stop it now. IT may save you and your family’s life.

Other Resources:
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: http://www.ndvh.org

Article by Nicette Jukelevics, Childbirth Educator certified by the International Childbirth Education Association
Presented by Angel J. Miller, MSN, CNM, CEO, WomanPlace, Inc.