Scores of women gathered at JMMB Group’s St Andrew head office recently to explore the topic Your Reproductive Journey and Parenting and garner some practical pointers [and support] from experts sharing in the occasion.
Parenting lifestyle consultant and editor of B3 Parenting Magazine, Michelle Gordon, revealed that following her divorce, she embarked on the route of single parenting. During her insightful and frank presentation, she highlighted the need for openness and honesty in the child-rearing process adding that this allows children to be balanced in their expectations of their parents and demands, while helping to prepare them for the realities that they may face in the real world.
She underscored, especially as single mothers, that it is important to have a solid support system in place. She went further, stating, “It takes a village to raise a child, (and) if you don’t have it in your family, seek it out in your friends,” Gordon said.
Natalie Outar in her emotionally charged presentation also called for a sisterhood of support to encourage and empower other women, especially single mothers. She however cautioned individuals to exercise sensitivity when providing support to their peers during their reproductive journey, charging them to be a tower of strength to each other in difficult times, such as the loss of a child.
In sharing her personal experience, she revealed that while dealing with the loss of her baby, she suffered from episodes of withdrawal and sadness; however, it was the support of friends who assisted in those moments.
While speaking in the testimonial segment, Outar also reminded the women to make time for self-care and forgive themselves as they will make mistakes or fall short along the parenting journey.
Living your values
In the Jamaican society, fertility is a sensitive and topical issue, with cultural norms and traditions that seemingly place undue burden on women, at childbearing age, to become mothers. Against this backdrop, Sonia Wynter, associate psychologist at Family Life Ministries, in her presentation on psychosocial issues surrounding the reproductive journey, charged women to live true to their values, stating, “It is when you are living your values that your life has meaning.”
She added that individuals should recognise that they can still live in their passion and purpose, even without having children, as long as they find ways of realising their purpose through meaningful avenues.
According to recent findings, approximately 10-15 per cent of couples worldwide have fertility issues. This means that more than 80 million people around the world are infertile. While infertility rates vary among different countries, Jamaica is in line with worldwide statistics at 15 per cent.
Dr Jody-Ann Jarrett, chief medical officer at Sylvan Family Care and consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist at Gynae Associates, provided hope for women desirous of getting pregnant, but who may have fertility challenges, by sharing a range of assisted reproductive options available.
She reminded the gathering that infertility is gender neutral and not as uncommon as persons may believe. As such, investigations should be done with both partners, as part of the reproductive process, after which the couple can determine their best fertility options, including: in vitro fertilisation, artificial insemination, fertility drugs, among other treatments.
Leading a healthy lifestyle by taking care of your bodies and minds was the advice shared by fitness expert and Olympian Juliet Cuthbert during her testimonial, noting that this is critical for women to improve their reproductive health. She cited her healthy lifestyle as a key factor in her ability to have a good pregnancy with her second child, at 51 years old.
At the close of the session, all participants were invited to make a declaration to themselves to live a healthier, happier life and to transform their mindset. As a reminder of their declaration, attendees received a special bracelet with a butterfly charm that symbolised transformation, designed by Story and Myth Blessing Beads.