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New Jersey: Women’s Reproductive Health Events

Originally posted May 1, 2013.

April was a great month for Women’s Reproductive Health events in New Jersey. I was fortunate enough to attend and also was invited to present at La Leche League of the Garden State’s Annual Conference in Jamestown, New Jersey. I also went to an event hosted by St. Clare’s Hospital and the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey. Both events were at the intersection of women’s physical and mental health.

I had so much fun meeting and seeing some virtual colleagues/friends, such as Ruth Callahan of Doula Care in NYC and Colleen White, Events Coordinator at LLL and Ivy Shih Leung and Irina Polanco-Ventura at St. Clares., and of course meeting new ones! Apparently, St., Clare’s has a kick-ass postpartum depression group. I was so glad to get pointers on getting my group in Wayne, NJ to be as kick-ass as that one!

At the LLL-GS conference, there was a great roster of speakers, including Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Delaware and the author of the book, Breastfeeding: Bio-cultural Perspectives (among others) and Dr. Frank J. Nice, R.Ph, who served as a pharmacist at the FDA and as a researcher at the NIH for many years, and has written several books about medications and breastfeeding in his lifetime.

Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D. – Mammalian Cache, Follow and Carrying Parenting

I learned a lot at the conference. Dr. Dettwyler discussed the evolutionary & anthropological history of different types of mammalian parenting. She said that mammals have three different types of parenting styles that are biologically based: cache or den, following in minutes, or carried on (usually) the mother’s body.

Foxes, wolves, voles and many other mammals practice cache-style parenting; where the mother leaves the babies for hours in a den and goes out to forage for food herself. Cache young have a biologically-driven imperative to not defecate, urinate or vocalize, so they don’t attract predators. They wait silently for mom to come back.

Horses, deer, elephants and many other mammals practice the follow style of parenting: where the young one must be able to stand and follow and even run within minutes of birth. These young are physically precocious and have a biological imperative to follow their mothers to escape predators and to survive.

The carrier parents are generally primates. There are two types of carrier parenting; those with young that are alctrcial, that is they can hold onto the mother to be carried (and the mother usually has fur to hold onto) and those with young who cannot hold on themselves to the mother, so they need to be carried. The carrier young are not physically precocious. They have a biological imperative to be physically close to the mother, to vocalize when they are not close to the mother, in order to be safe from predators. The reflex is to cling with arms & legs to the mother when they are startled to prepare for mother’s flight from predation.

So, don’t take it personally when you can’t get your human baby to lay down like a cache mammal; she wants to be held and carried: it’s our biological imperative.

Dr. Dettwyler also said that humans are very adaptable and it’s one of the reasons humans are the dominant species on Earth. So, humans can thrive in a broad range of safe parenting behaviors. However, she said that when biological and cultural mismatches become too great, negative consequences can result, such as death, physical illnesses, mental illness, and behavioral problems.

All in all, a very interesting speaker. Her books are on my list of must-reads.

Frank J. Nice, RpH – OTC Medications and Herbals and Breastfeeding:

99% of women who stop breastfeeding due to medications can actually continue

As a new mother 19 short years ago, I suffered postpartum depression, and refused to take any medications for it. There were not many studies back then. Now there are a lot of studies. So I sat up and took note. Depression is quite painful and people who are depressed are allowed their medication just as diabetics are. And, like, diabetes, sometimes self-help techniques can augment treatment for depression and reduce or eliminate the need for medication and sometimes can’t.

So I was lucky enough to hear Dr. Frank Nice speak as well. He has a long career at the NIH and the FDA as pharmacist studying breastfeeding and medications.

He gave detailed presentations about OTC medications and herbals. But he wanted to get one main message out loud and clear: 99% of women who stop breastfeeding due to medications are able to continue; they just need the correct information. He urges us to use our local pharmacists, who have a lot of training in drug interactions and side-effects.

He is now retired, but is still active in his field, having written several books on medication and breastfeeding, and wants to keep educating pharmacists, lactation consultants and mothers. His presentations had much breadth and depth.

Dr. Nice is a very open person and says that anyone can email him with questions and he will be glad to answer. Take a look at his website. His scholarly articles on breastfeeding and medications are the most widely read by professional pharmacists.

Part Two on Friday will be a summary of the line-up of great people who were at the event hosted by St. Clare’s Hospital and the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey. First off, Dr. Patricia Dreyfuss, a NJ local ob-gyn, the Ivy Shih Leung, then Dr. Michele Preminger, a reproductive psychiatrist with licensure and experience in both obstetrics and psychiatry, spoke there!

Tune in next post for a discussion about the St. Clare’s event! See you in a few days!


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