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Shasta Dazen: 'Family Spirit' program incorporates our tribal traditions

Shasta Dazen, a citizen of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, explains how the Family Spirit program incorporates cultural teaching to help parents with their newborns:
In many tribal cultures, too much planning for a baby’s birth is seen as tempting fate. You don’t build the nursery or talk about names, for example, until after the child is born. As a family health educator with the White Mountain Apache people, knowing and respecting our culture helps me to build a trusting relationship with moms-to-be before their babies are born – and also to be prepared, help them get diapers, carseats and all the material necessities of new motherhood, as soon as they are ready for them.

It may seem like a small thing, but to new mothers, being understood, listened to and respected is very important and helps set the stage for a trusting relationship so we can work together for many years to come.

Placing value, understanding and respecting my tribal culture is key to the work I do with the Family Spirit program on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. I visit these young moms in their homes during their pregnancy, helping guide them toward proper prenatal care which helps to prepare them to give birth to healthy babies. I continue to visit them when their child is born, every week at first, changing to every two weeks at three months and once a month at six months until the baby reaches three years old. We talk about swaddling and diapering, feeding and family budgeting. We teach about how important it is to interact with your baby, about how your baby is a sponge, constantly learning and absorbing everything we say and do.

Read More on the Story:
Shasta Dazen: Coaching to Build Confident Parents, Health, Successful Families (Indian Country Media Network 6/17)