WIC Celebrates Fathers

By Jorge Bazan Brito, RDN; and Mark Jones II, RDN

In honor of father’s day and the increasing number of men and fathers participating in the WIC program, two PHFE WIC offices (117th St. WIC and Washington WIC) hosted special events on June 27 and 29, 2018 celebrating the important role of fathers.

Washington WIC center hosted Congressman Jimmy Gomez, who spoke about the importance of the WIC program’s nutrition education and support in our community.

(left to right) Pina Hernandez, Jorge Bazan Brito, Congressman Jimmy Gomez, Kiran Saluja, Samar McGregor

Congressman Gomez presented a congressional certificate that acknowledged five fathers for their commitment to their families and participation with the WIC program:

  • Alex, a loving stay at home dad, is not afraid of rocking matching nail polish with his daughter.
  • Julian, a brand new dad, has been highly involved at each appointment and acting as primary support and caregiver to his wife and newborn.
  • Musie has been part of the WIC family since 2012 and has not missed a single appointment. He helps translate and interpret information at appointments for his wife.
  • Eduardo, whose parents participated in the program when he was a child and now is part of the program for his daughter, walks into the WIC center prepared with parenting and nutrition questions.
  • Victor, a phenomenal husband and father of four (and one on the way), takes an active role in parenting, school meetings, grocery shopping, and cooking.
(left to right) Eduardo Ambriz, Musie Kahsay, Congressman Jimmy Gomez, Julian Reyes, Jorge Bazan Brito, Kiran Saluja
Ruben Lopez, Victor Barrientos, Jorge Bazan Brito

117th  St. WIC center hosted Robert Pullen-Miles, District Director for Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, who spoke about the importance of Fatherhood and the WIC program’s contribution to fathers in need.

Robert Pullen-Miles presented a certificate that acknowledged a grandfather for his commitment and dedication to his family and participation on the WIC Program for over fifteen years.

  • Michael, a grandfather who has served as the caregiver to his grandchildren, has participated on the WIC program for over 15 years.
Councilman Robert Pullen-Miles honors Michael Wright

The celebration included healthy snacks and drinks provided by WIC, carnival games, a beach ball activity, and arts and crafts. Eisner Dental, Los Angeles County DPSS (Cal Fresh), LIFT, Project Fatherhood, Life Coaching and Fatherhood Principles, Families Uniting Families, D.A.D. Project, and 1736 Family Crisis Center joined the celebration and provided their services.

Three guest speakers gave testimonials about the WIC program and about the important role of men and fathers in children’s lives. Lieutenant Robbie Williams received WIC as a youth and spoke about the importance of the WIC program to his family and so many other families in need. Mark Jones II spoke about his early experience on WIC as a child. Mark is now the supervisor at 117th St. WIC. Andy Linares’s parents participated in the WIC program when he was a child, and he now is a graduate from CSUN with a double major in Consumer Affairs and Central American Studies. Carlos Tejeda, a Professor at CSULA, received the support of WIC during his PhD studies. Daniel Polanco, a single dad of a 9 year old daughter and co-executive director of the D.A.D. Project, spoke about how the WIC program provides additional support for young fathers.

Lieutenant Robbie Williams, Mark Jones II, and Guest

WIC is here to provide services to ensure our community’s children get a strong and healthy start in life. PHFE WIC is committed to fostering an inclusive and friendly environment for men, fathers, and all other caretakers, parents, and guardians. Research shows children and families do better when fathers and father-like figures are involved. Children exhibit better school performance, increase in self-esteem and improves social relationships. The WIC program offers father-friendly materials such as nutrition education classes, nutrition counseling, parenting courses, and referrals to additional resources to support the entire the family.

In Partnership with Univision…

In Partnership with Univision:
When having a ‘bundle of joy’ does not feel so joyful after all:
recognizing perinatal and postpartum depression

This summer, we’re partnering with Univision Contigo to promote “Una Vida Mas Saludable,” sharing ideas and tips for living a healthier life. In this article, we focus on the mental health of new mothers and the resources available to help them overcome perinatal depression.

This article was originally published on Univision.com: leer en español >

By Dr. Blayne Cutler, President and CEO, Heluna Health

The experiences of becoming pregnant and having a child can often come with many surprises. A variety of new questions begin to run through the mind of a mom-to-be, “What will my child look like?” “Will my child be healthy?” “How do I find the best doctor?” Even with the best planning, most expecting mothers know that parenting is full of unpredictable events. But when the surprise of experiencing deep sadness or intense worry hit during a time they’ve been told should be one of pure joy and excitement, the unexpected can become overwhelming. These feelings may be more than the typical “baby blues”, which is a normal adjustment period after birth that can last for approximately one to two weeks.

Beyond the baby blues

New mothers experiencing prolonged symptoms of sadness, anxiety, intense worry, frequent crying or lethargy for more than two weeks after the birth of their baby may be experiencing postpartum depression. Perinatal (during pregnancy) and postpartum (after birth) depression can affect pregnant women and new mothers up to the first year after a child’s birth. Experiencing hopelessness, intense anger, anxiety and loss of appetite are just some of the symptoms of depression. Experiencing these symptoms can make new mothers feel very alone and sometimes prevent them from seeking the help they need. In fact, depression is one of the most frequent complications of pregnancy, affecting 10-20%* of expecting mothers and those who have recently given birth. It may also be a surprise that one in 10 new dads is affected by depression, as well.

Know the signs and speak up

When it comes to ensuring that women and families receive the care they need, empowering women to advocate for themselves at the doctor’s office is extremely important. Since many health care providers may not screen for perinatal and postpartum depression during regular visits, speaking up can save a woman’s life and the life of her baby. Knowing the signs of depression and deciding to get help are the first, and often the most important, steps.

At Heluna Health’s PHFE WIC program, the largest nonprofit network of Women, Infants and Children (WIC) centers in the U.S., we often see pregnant women and new moms between doctor’s visits, as we administer our services. Each month, PHFE WIC serves over 200,000 women and their families with nutrition education, breastfeeding support, links to family resources, and vouchers for healthy foods. WIC counselors see mothers in the days and weeks immediately after giving birth, and continue to follow up on a mother’s health for months after delivery. During regular nutrition education or breastfeeding support visits, our team members often hear about the challenges and emotional struggles that our families are facing. Staff members are trained to make referrals that can help new mothers and fathers obtain the critical support they need. Public health nutrition programs like WIC play a vital role in supporting an integrated approach to caring for new parents and their growing families.

Getting help

The good news is that perinatal and postpartum depression are treatable. Additionally, there are many tools available to help expectant parents better understand what to look out for, like this resource: 6 signs every mom and mom-to-be should know about perinatal depression. Becoming a parent can be both wonderful and challenging. If you are feeling significantly different that you thought you might feel about the experience, seek help and don’t feel ashamed…the odds are in your favor that it will get better.

If you or someone you know may be affected by perinatal or postpartum depression, please call or text this helpline, available 24 hours a day in English and Spanish:

Call 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD)
Text 503-894-9453

Dr. Blayne Cutler is a public health physician, writer and the President and CEO of Heluna Health.

*Stewart, D.E., Robertson, E., Dennis, C-L., Grace, S.L., & Wallington, T. (2003). Postpartum depression: Literature review of risk factors and interventions.

Leer en español en Univision.com >