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Resources + Tips for Expecting and New Parents - May: No. 20

We hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day! And, celebrating and supporting mothers involves more than just one day. We want to share lasting information for moms to support their mental well being, especially now since May is also Mental Health Awareness Month which has been observed in the U.S. since 1949.
This issue contains tips on:
  • Maternal and Infant Mental Health, defined as the social, psychological and emotional well being in children and adults, thus preventing serious illnesses from developing later on. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. It is important at every stage of life.
  • Dental Care During Pregnancy
  • Math for Little Ones
  • Advocacy Report 
  • Parent Resources
Happy Mother’s Day each and every day! Stay tuned for our Father’s Day issue next month.
Stay safe and be well.
Wil Blechman, MD
Past President, Kiwanis International  
Co-Chair, World’s Greatest Babies and Baby Shower in Miami-Dade
Diana Ragbeer Murray, Child Advocate
Chair, Early Childhood Cmte, Kiwanis NEMD 
Co-Chair, World’s Greatest Babies and Baby Shower in Miami-Dade


Maternal (and paternal health), both physical and emotional, is the foundation for the first 1,000 days (prenatal period to the 3rd birthday) of a child's life. And although the maternal brain is flooded with hormones that allow moms to multi-task, empathize, have extra energy and become a “supermom”, sometimes those hormones can produce anxiety and depression. 
Here are a few other tips to support maternal mental health:
Set expectations low. 

There are no perfect mothers and you will not be perfect at parenting. Hang in there, love your best and apologize for your worst moments. 

You will not be able to please your children all the time.

It won't be because you don't love them. It will be because you won't be able to do everything they ask like “putting a Band-Aid on their tongue” if they ask you to.

Remember Dads want to help too, if you show them how and let them.

Fathers may not be as instinctive, but they are just as willing. They just need to be asked and shown how. Give responsibilities to your partner so that he spends more time with the baby. This will help the baby understand that Dad can also give love, care and support. Encourage Dad to read to the baby and put her to sleep. For new fathers, this will help them understand the baby’s behavior.

Maintain physical health which strengthens emotional health​.

Strong bodies support our minds. Exercise, eat well, and sleep when you can.

Don’t think the worst. 

Uncertainty can make our minds race to the worst possible outcome. Catch those thoughts and say, “I am imagining the worst. Let me focus on what is really happening." Young parents especially can assume the worst because they have not yet had the experience to know that crises come and go. Keep remembering “You'll get through this."​

Don’t do anything hasty when you feel like you’re losing it.

After a rough day, you might be tempted to quit your job and run away to a place where people do not repeat your name 16 times per minute or cry when you don't let them do things like chew on their shoes. Give yourself a break and phone a friend for support, enjoy a cup of tea, or eat your favorite dessert, if that will help. One of the first things to do is to take 5 deep breaths which sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax which also lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and helps you to think more clearly.

Seek professional support.

We as mothers or expectant mothers need to be really mindful that we need to seek expert help when necessary. There's good, proven treatments and support systems.

Call The Healthy Start’s CONNECT program at 305 541-0210 or for support that’s just right for you. And, hang in there and know that you are a champion and you will see the light of day soon. 

Baby Blues or Depression ?

Is it the baby blues or depression? A recent interview with Dr. Connie Morrow, Program Director, Healthy Start Program on the Kiwanis/Healthy Start radio show Connect with Healthy Start, Babies and Beyond gets to the bottom of this below:
Question: What is the cause of the Baby Blues and Perinatal Depression?
Dr: Morrow’s Answer:

  • Sometimes we have an image of complete happiness and full energy after giving birth.  But in reality, most new moms are worn-out and overwhelmed with all the physical changes, hormone fluctuations, and the new demands of their new baby. 
  • There is no one specific cause and it can impact anyone.  Experts believe some things that play a role include:  
    • The dramatic changes in hormone levels during pregnancy and immediately following birth may lead to changes in the brain that trigger mood swings.  For most women this passes quickly, but for some of us it snowballs into more significant symptoms that do not go away after a few days/weeks.   
    • The sleep deprivation that often comes along with a new baby can worsen symptoms of depression.  
    • A prior experience with depression – including during pregnancy - increases the risk for postpartum depression.
    • Emotional factors may not cause postpartum depression but can make some symptoms more intense.  Examples include difficulty managing life stressors, experiencing feelings of inadequacy or anxiety about how to take care of the baby, or having unsure feelings about the pregnancy.  
Question:  What is the difference between the Baby Blues and Depression?  
Dr. Morrow’s Answer:
  • Although the Baby Blues and Perinatal Depression share many symptoms, they are very different. 
  • The Length and Intensity of symptoms are the main difference:
    • The Baby Blues is characterized by mood swings and weepiness during the first 2-3 weeks after birth and disappears on its own.  Up to 80% of women experience the baby blues.
    • Perinatal Depression lasts longer and has a much bigger impact on your ability to function in your day-to-day activities.  Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth, and last for more than two weeks. 
  • Approximately 15% of women experience Postpartum Depression, with double the rates for women living in poverty. 
  • Typical symptoms include, feelings of anger/irritability, depressed mood and significant mood swings, lack of interest in the baby, difficulty bonding with the baby, appetite and sleep disturbance, frequent crying and sadness, difficulty sleeping, withdrawal from family/friends, feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness, loss of interest/pleasure in things women used to enjoy, extreme fatigue, and possible thoughts of harming the baby or themselves. 
Question: What can moms do about these conditions?
Dr. Morrow’s Answer:
  • Be in-tune with your feelings and emotions
  • Knowing the difference between the Baby Blues and Perinatal Depression will help you understand what’s going on.
  • Seek help.  Untreated mood disorders can interfere with your ability to enjoy motherhood and life. 
  • With treatment you can fully recover. There is no reason to continue to suffer.
Question: What are some resources for those who need help?
Dr. Morrow’s Answer:
  • Ask your health care provider to screen you for depression and refer you to treatment if you are experiencing symptoms.  
  • Many treatments exist for women who have perinatal depression or anxiety.  Some common treatments include antidepressant medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and interpersonal therapy.  Research suggests that when the depression is more severe, combining therapy with antidepressant medication can be most successful.
  • Call CONNECT at 305-541-0210 to be linked with resources and specialized counseling through Healthy Start or go to
  • Postpartum Support International also has a Helpline that accepts calls and texts at 1-800-944-4773 and a website at

Self Care for Moms (Vital, not a Luxury!)

Our culture promotes self-sacrifice, and we often feel a great deal of unworthiness when we  need something for ourselves.  And too often there are barriers such as time and cost that prevent us from practicing self-care. 
But worrying that needing self-care makes you selfish or weak should not be the barrier that prevents you from obtaining it. "Self-care absolutely is not the same as selfishness. Selfishness is lacking any consideration for others and profiting by this. Self-care is about making sure that you are also well and healthy so that you are more available to help others," explains author, therapist and health coach, Drew Coster.

What is self care? 

Clinical psychologist, Agnes Wainman, explains that caring for yourself is doing "something that refuels us, rather than takes from us." That means whatever works for you (within reason) even if that means letting others do something for you. 
It can mean something you add such as a manicure or chance to watch a movie, or something you give up. You can give yourself permission not to do something, or eliminate tasks that are draining. 

Some examples of small acts of self-care that can quickly recharge you:
  • Write down something that needs doing and put it away for a day to allow yourself to worry about something tomorrow.
  • Sit down and put up your feet for 15 minutes without doing anything.
  • Let your partner do an extra chore. 
  • Go for a short walk by yourself and without the dog.
  • Sip a cup of tea alone.
  • Take five deep breaths.
  • Turn your phone off for 30 minutes.
  • Throw something out that doesn’t make you feel good.
  • Don't stay up late—let some things wait till tomorrow when you have more energy.
  • Unfollow someone on social media who brings you down
Self-care is as unique as you. The key is that it recharges you in your own way.

Sources:  Science Direct,, Motherly, The Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade


“Infant mental health" refers to how well a child develops socially and emotionally from birth to age five. Since it is the foundation of all future development, it is in these first early years that we need to help the infant develop the best possible outcomes. Understanding infant mental health is the key to preventing and treating the mental health problems of very young children and their families. 

Recognizing Signs of Stress in Your Child During Uncertain Times

Uncertain and stressful times can result in stress in babies and very young children. Signs of stress and mental health challenges are not the same for every infant or toddler but there are some common symptoms.
May show backward progress in skills and developmental milestones. They may also have increased problems with:

  • fussiness and irritability, startling and crying more easily, and more difficult to console.
  • falling asleep and waking up more during the night.
  • feeding issues such as frantic nippling, more reflux, constipation or loose stools, or new complaints of stomach pain.
  • separation anxiety, seeming more clingy, withdrawn, or hesitant to explore.
  • hitting, frustration, biting, and more frequent or intense tantrums.
  • bedwetting after they're potty trained.
  • urgently expressing needs while not being able to feel satisfied.
  • conflict and aggression or expressing themes like illness or death during play.

Staying in touch with your pediatrician is more important in these times. If you have any concerns, ask your pediatrician's office about checking on your child's social and emotional health. Pediatricians can screen for anxiety or trouble coping with stress. The doctor may also ask about these symptoms in other family members, as this can impact your child's health. 

Supporting your child

Your pediatrician can give you guidance on ways to best support your child and help them build resilience. Some children may need more time and space to express their feelings. Some may do better with gradual conversations and other activities besides talking, such as painting or drawing to express themselves and manage stress. Others might be more comfortable with direct conversations or activities. 
Find more ways to help your child cope with stress and build resilience in Parenting in a Pandemic: Tips to Help Keep the Calm at Home.



Dental Health During Pregnancy 

Dental health is an important part of your pregnancy (prenatal) care. Why?

  • Pregnancy increases the risk of certain dental health problems that may lead to complications like premature or still birth.
  • Go to your regular dental checkups during pregnancy. Tell your dentist that you’re pregnant. The new forms of dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy.
  • If you’re worried about your dental health, see your dentist right away.
  • Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day and floss once a day.
  • Avoid sugary foods.
  • Don’t smoke.
Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums during pregnancy can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. 

How does pregnancy affect your dental health?

Changes in your body during pregnancy can affect your teeth and gums. For example:
  • You have increased levels of certain hormones, like progesterone and estrogen, in your body during pregnancy. These can increase your risk for certain oral health problems.
  • Your eating habits may change. You may eat more of certain foods during pregnancy than you did before you were pregnant. The kinds of food you eat can affect your dental health.
  • You may brush and floss your teeth less than you did before you got pregnant. This may be because your gums are tender or you’re more tired than usual. For some women, brushing and flossing may cause nausea (feeling sick to your stomach).
What are signs and symptoms of dental problems during pregnancy?

Signs and symptoms of dental problems include:
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Mouth sores or lumps on the gums
  • New spaces between your teeth
  • Receding gums (when your gums pull away from your teeth so you can see roots of your teeth) or puss along your gumline (where your gums meet your teeth)
  • Gums that are red, swollen, tender or shiny; gums that bleed easily. Periodontitis and gingivitis , types of gum disease have been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth, stillbirth and low birth weight.
  • Toothache or other pain

If you have mouth pain or swelling, call your dentist right away. If you have an infection, you need quick treatment to help prevent problems for your baby. 

Source: March of Dimes

Everyday Fun with Counting: Let’s Talk About Math Video

Watch to see how an understanding of counting develops from birth to 5 years old.

Counting is an understanding of:

  • Hearing numbers, learning the names of numbers and repeating them in order.
  • Observing adults counting objects and, in time, practicing how to count by saying the number sequences.
  • Talking about the amount of things by using number words or words like “less”, “more” or “a lot.”

Download Files En español 

Source:  Zero to Three


The Children's Trust sets its 2021 legislative priorities.


Bills pass for pregnant moms and young children!

Thanks to the leadership of The Children’s Movement of Florida and parents like you, the 2021 state legislative session that took place in Tallahassee and ended last Friday was kind to young children and pregnant moms. Thank you for helping to advocate for these causes! 

When parents get involved, it makes a big difference.  Here’s what passed:
  • House Bill 419 which improved the Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) program and recognized early learning educators with bonuses from pandemic recovery funds (an investment of $166 million).
  • Medicaid for pregnant mothers which extended benefits from the current 60 days postpartum to one full year (funded with an extra $240 million in the state budget).

Join a virtual rally and help us reach out to Congress!

Join the Think Babies virtual rally on May 17th from 2:00 -2:30 p.m. ET
Strolling Thunder
·       On Monday, May 17 from 2:00 to 2:30 pm ET, ZERO TO THREE will host the Think Babies™ virtual rally to launch this year’s Strolling Thunder™ and call on Congress to push babies to the top of their priority list.
·       We will be live with Strolling Thunder family advocates, professionals, and Members of Congress to send a clear message: the time to boldly invest in the policies babies need is now. Baby champions like you know that babies’ brains are built and policymakers must take action to provide babies and families with programs they need to thrive today and in the future.
·       Join us on Facebook Live on May 17 to give our youngest advocates and their families support and momentum ahead of their virtual Strolling Thunder meetings with Congress. But don’t stop there! Mark your calendar to take action alongside families on May 18 during the Strolling Thunder day of action.
Source:  The Children’s Movement of Florida and Zero to Three

There is an old saying that babies don’t come with a manual.  However, the resources listed below (and in every issue) will give you many of the instructions you need to support you and your child’s development.
Mental Wellness

Baby Steps Newsletter for Parents and Caregivers

Baby Steps covers a specific parenting topic each month—from sleep problems to challenging behavior, and everything in between.
Each issue includes:

  • In-depth advice on a common child-rearing issue 
  • Quotes from parents facing similar experiences
  • Links to additional resources on the ZERO TO THREE website
  • Additional ways to connect with ZERO TO THREE

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Grow by WebMD

For expert information on pregnancy, newborns, babies, parenting, children’s health and healthy pets and more:

Go to


The information in these newsletters is brought to you by members of the Planning Committee of The World’s Greatest Baby Shower in Miami-Dade 2020 which has since evolved into The World’s Greatest Babies in Miami-Dade.  The Planning Committee is comprised of the following organizations making a difference in the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County.

Click on the logos below to go to each organization’s websites to find ways they can provide resources for you and your family. 








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