A new year is upon us. A new year symbolizes a new beginning. With that new beginning, there is hope for improvement.
The improvement may be focused on ourselves, on our society, our relationships, on so many things affecting us daily.
Zora Neale Hurston wrote: “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
What questions and what answers will 2019 bring? That mystery will unfold over the next 365 days.
A year seems like a long time, but it is composed of minutes, days and months where we all make choices on how to live our lives.
We can choose to be patient this year. We can choose to pause before acting or saying words that hurt others. We can choose to make a priority of addressing the fact: the No. 1 cause of death in children is preventable.
There is nothing worse than losing a child. When a child dies a preventable death, the anguish for the family is gut tearing.
The No. 1 cause of babies dying is accidental asphyxia.
As health professionals, we are obligated to have the conversation with parents before and after they have their baby about always making sure their baby is in a safe sleep environment.
Parents and care takers of babies make the decision in what environment a baby will sleep. A safe sleep environment is considered to be alone, on a firm mattress, with nothing else.
Another factor we know that helps keep a baby safe is providing human milk. Human milk has factors affecting the baby’s immune system to protect them from infections.
Sometimes a mother has difficulty making milk for her baby. That is not a choice she has made. I find those mothers grieve over it. Being in a nonsmoking environment also helps prevent respiratory illnesses.
Babies don’t make choices. Parents make choices for their babies.
We use our instincts to make what we believe are the best choices. When we do not, our babies are the ones who suffer.
Another leading cause of death in children is drowning.
Drowning is always preventable. It is a no-brainer. Adults make the choice to take their eyes off a child near water and that is when a child drowns.
Do adults make that decision on purpose? I don’t think so, but as a health professional, friend of someone who lost a child to drowning, it is time for us to have the discussion openly and widely about choosing to make sure all children are safe around water.
The term “crib death” and SIDS came about to minimize blame. It gave the impression that it just happened and was out of our control.
We have come a long way in understanding what causes a baby to die of accidental asphyxia. We have come a long way in understanding there are safe and unsafe water environments.
Choices have consequences. Whether it is the choice to pause before entering the highway, pause to choose your words so they are kind and not hurtful, choose to not eat something, sleep a little longer, may all of your choices help you have a healthy 2019.
I know one of the choices I am making is to not stop talking, writing, teaching about how we adults must always make the best choices for our precious children.
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital’s Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in Healthy Living in the Bradenton Herald. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.