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Infant care through a cultural lens

1/16/2015
Each Friday, one by one, a parade of strollers arrives at Community & Family Health in Richmond. The chatter is friendly and animated as the new moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers converse in Mandarin and Cantonese.
But it wasn’t always so. Up until this past September, the language of all public health baby groups in Richmond was English. Thanks to the efforts of Richmond Public Health Nurses, baby groups are now offered in Mandarin and Cantonese.
Attendees include not only new moms and their babies, but also extended family members who all have a voice in how the baby is cared for and raised. The weekly sessions have proven so popular, in fact, that it’s not uncommon for as many as 130 individual participants (comprising 60 families) to attend Baby Days in Cantonese and Mandarin on a regular basis.

New moms finding their way

According to Richmond Public Health Nurse Pat Agon-Chen, families who attend this new group face unique challenges. As many of the new moms are also recent immigrants to Richmond — and live with their in-laws and extended families — Agon-Chen not only acts as nurse, but also as cultural intermediary to help new moms find their place within the multigenerational households.
“It’s considered very disrespectful for a new mom to contradict her mother or mother-in-law pertaining to matters of infant care and feeding,” said Agon-Chen. “But with our support, new moms feel more comfortable voicing their baby-care preferences, and take comfort in knowing that their extended families will often listen to advice that comes from professional nurses.”

What do participants learn?

While all baby groups cover similar subject matter, slight modifications have been made to some materials presented to this baby group. These revised materials work towards bridging the gaps between cultural differences with the goal of integrating the best of each culture’s post-partum expectations.
For instance, post-partum depression is introduced as “post-partum adjustment,” to address physiological changes. Additional stresses caused by strict cultural beliefs and traditions, such as how long new moms must remain in their home after their baby’s birth, are also discussed.
“Now Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking families with their first infant are making new friends, having their questions answered about infant and self-care, and learning how to stay healthy, all within a cultural lens and language that makes sense to them,” said Agon-Chen.

Want more information on the classes?

All Baby Days groups resume this week. For more information about the new Cantonese and Mandarin language group contact:
  • Pat Agon-Chen - 604-233-3101
  • Sharon Williams - 604-233-3178
SOURCE: Infant care through a cultural lens ( )
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