January is here already and time once again for our annual baby drive. We set aside a month just for babies to help restock the closet for newborns through 24 months. Many mothers don’t have what they need for their new babies so we try to provide the essentials for their first 6 months. Word has gotten around via the “moccasin trail” that Theresa and Jerome have baby items to give to new moms so they get lots of calls and knocks on their door. NAHA and other donation trucks that come in don’t always have anything for babies, except occasionally disposable diapers, so we try to swamp T&J with baby goodies so they have something to give out to those in need. Although this month is devoted to babies, please send any donations you have throughout the year, they are always needed!
Women deliver their babies in Rapid City or at Pine Ridge Hospital. Hospital regulations require all items distributed to babies be new and what they give out depends on what they have on hand which always changes. They do receive a small tub, toiletries and disposable diapers, but they’re used while baby is still in the hospital so there might not be many left when they come home. With Pine Ridge Hospital becoming a “Baby Friendly Hospital”, women are encouraged to breast feed their babies. Education is done at the hospital for those who haven’t received any instruction prior to delivery and they also receive a home visit by a nurse within 2 weeks of dismissal. Formula and diaper bag donations from pharmaceutical companies are no longer permitted because of companies advertising and promoting the use of formula, the tribe feels this is a conflict of interest. The hospital does provide some formula for those women having trouble breastfeeding and they will receive more from WIC along with help to see if their problems can be solved. Each mom gets a free breast pump as well so moms can use it if they go to school or work, so breastfeeding can continue, the longer the better but the hope is for at least for 6 months. WIC provides women with food for themselves during pregnancy and for 6 months after delivery and for children in need until the age of 5/6. They provide a pack ‘n play for babies so they have a safe place to sleep as the SIDS rate on the Rez is 2 to 3 times higher than the national average.
Many mothers have their kids in daycare while they’re attending school or working. Children sometimes arrive there in need of a bath and/or wearing dirty clothes because they live in a home with no running water or laundry facilities, no clothing or just because their parents lack child rearing skills. The daycare doesn’t make negative comments to parents but does try to educate in a kind manner and just cleans up the kids and their clothes while they’re there for the day and sends them home with a new set of clothes if they have them. They can handle up to 20 kids at the center with most of them being infant to young toddlers as children aged 3-5 can attend Head Start. Older kids arrive after the school day ends and are picked up when their parents finish work.
The WIC program sees women on a monthly basis when they come to pick up their food. Each month they try to do education with families or make appointments for them with other service organizations if needed. Parents apply for WIC at Crazy Horse school and must reapply every 6 months to see if they still quality for services. WIC likes to give out things to kids if they have them such as a book, toy, hat, mittens, etc. so they would welcome our help as well. It gets needed items to the kids and also acts as an incentive for coming in to the appt.
Since this is our major restocking for the year items for all seasons are welcome. We can help the Lakota babies and toddlers by sending: sleepers, sleepsacks (flannel for summer, fleece for winter), onesies or undershirts, socks, booties, hats, sun and warm ones, sweaters, jackets, winter coats, bunting/snowsuit, receiving blankets, quilts, blankets, afghans, pack ‘n play size sheets (most are 27×39), tops and pants/shorts for all seasons, washcloths, bibs, towels (especially hooded), burp cloths, diaper wipes, diapers (cloth and disposable), nursing pads, safe toys that are washable, books (board and cloth), baby toiletry items, baby bottles and bottle brushes for cleaning, diaper bags, changing pads, and slings/wraps. The greatest needs for the baby are in the first year and then the next year , the toddler needs the day to day stuff that we all wear plus items to play or read with. Kids outgrow items often at these ages so it is nice to have items to fit the next stage. Moms do share items they have if they are not using them but because kids on the Rez do not have the clothing wardrobes of many of our kids off the Rez, clothes passed on, are not always in the best of shape. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting patterns and ideas so please share your favorites with us and tell us what projects you’re working on.
Having a baby is a happy event but also stressful, especially if you’re a young, single mother unprepared for what a baby requires both physically and emotionally. The ideal situation anywhere, is for a baby to be born in a home with both adult parents present, but many are born to young, single moms. Native Americans lost so many people in the past that children are always welcomed. Fortunately, for the child born to a young mother, they usually are not living alone. Children can be cared for by other members of the family if the new mother can’t or won’t care for her child. Children on the Rez are believed not to just have one parent, but many, so that should something happen to a parent, another person can step in to raise the child, in many cases the grandparent assumes this role. Young mothers are sometimes ill equipped to deal with an infant and some suffer from postpartum depression, especially those without support, are isolated or overwhelmed with other children. By providing some of the needs for their children, we can relieve one of the stresses of a tired out mom. If you can donate something for mom such as sanitary pads, toiletries (hotel size is fine), etc., it would be much appreciated as well. Donations can be sent here to the High Horses who will make sure that the items get distributed or kept in storage for the warmer weather. Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.