Pregnant mothers in Brownsville are often faced with having more complicated pregnancies than other women, have more trouble during child birth, and are more likely to deliver their babies preterm (too early), or at a low birth weight – all of which can lead to more health problems or complications during growth and development. This is why efforts within the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), namely their Breastfeeding Empowerment Zone and Healthy Start Brooklyn programs out of the Bristol street clinic (aka Brownsville Neighborhood Health Action Center), offer health and wellness services specifically to pregnant women, expectant fathers, infants and families of East and Central Brooklyn.
On Wednesday October 3, 2018; the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health; alongside members of NYCDOHMH facilitated a breastfeeding education workshop at Hair Creations Barbershop located at 369 Mother Gaston Blvd on the corner of Pitkin Avenue. Twenty-seven men, stood at attention to hear how they play a very important role in promoting and supporting breastfeeding for their babies. They also learned about the negative impacts of toxic masculinity, gender roles, and how the factors that influence their view points on manhood can either help or hinder their involvement in the lives of their children. Representatives from DOH walked them through some of causes of poor maternal and infant outcomes like stress, hypertension and lack of social support for the mothers and how it will take the support of the men to help remove some of these problems.
“In all my years growing up in Brownsville, I never imaged the day where I’d see men of all ages piled into a barbershop, eager to listen and learn about the benefits of breast feeding” says Dr. Tenya Blackwell; Director of Community Engagement and Research at Arthur Ashe Institute. “While doctors, clinics, researchers and other health care providers work hard to address the poor health outcomes for pregnant women and babies born in this community, we know that family support, particularly from fathers, brothers, uncles etc. are just as much an important solution to the infant and maternal health crisis faced by some families in Brownsville.
It was a great day in ‘The Ville’. Often time it usually is although we don’t hear that in the news”.