What a more perfect topic for me, as I am about 35 days away from giving birth to my first child. I have already gone over the birth slides, so I with a quick overview there and the reading of the midwives, cord blood, birthing video trend, and C-section options, I learned a lot. You would think, being pregnant that I would have already known a lot of this since I am living it currently, but wow. What a word out there for families and mothers to be. Lets start with the question at hand: What do I think young parents would really like to know? Well, what did I want to know? I wanted to know what I didn’t actually need! I didn’t want to buy unnecessary things, and I still have yet to find out if I have or not. I also wanted to know, what are the best health options for my unborn child and I. Reading the cord blood article, it really took me back. In my teens I always had this idea what I would save my babies cord blood because you never know and I thought I understood the importance of saving it. After reading the article and finding out that, in reality, it’s all just played on fear (at least in my opinion), I wouldn’t even waste my time trying to save the blood. For my pregnancy now, saving the blood wasn’t an option as I thought it was so expensive, but I did have plans for my second. Nope not anymore. It’s easy for companies to play on the emotions of new parents, or even second or third time around parents, cause not many parents are educated. This is what confirms it for me that people are vulnerable to unneeded products. As I read on, I learned that women are not even given the option to potentially have a vaginal birth after a C-section. Why? I mean, they go on about how dangerous and the risks are higher and etc., but is that the truth? C-sections cost in the range of $18-$30k (based off a quick google search). I think, although there may be risks, the risks really don’t outweigh the benefits of a vaginal birth. This here again, playing on fear of the unknown. So, back to the question: What do I think they would really want to know? The truth. About as much as they can get, and learn to keep the emotions out of it, cause that’s where they’re going to get duped the most. And being new parents, of course you can’t do everything right, but you can learn from the first time around.
Parents, especially new ones, often get caught up in all the excitement of welcoming a new tiny person into this world. They are a perfect victim for what I like to call, The Consumers Black Hole. This is something that not only expecting parents fall into, but likely everyone can say, at some point, they too were sucked in to what seemed like a screaming deal at the time. There are many different sub-populations that certain businesses and corporations sink their claws into. Their goal is to persuade people to consume, new parents happen to be one of them.
We are exposed to thousands of commercials and other propaganda out there that makes planning parents vulnerable to all sorts of items, services and other sorts of “stuff.” These companies advertising their merchandise are becoming more creative by the second. Businesses and corporations are selling anything from the necessary diapers to the unimportant pacifier wipes, what? Johnson’s, a company all of us likely know and love, even sells a baby cologne. Isn’t that insane? It is more shocking to me that parents fall into these marketing traps.
New Zealand and The United States are the only two nations that allow direct-to-consumer drug advertising. These ads tend to overemphasize the benefits of the drugs so that the risks are lost in the crossfire. The over advertisement and information provided causes the consumers to be misled and confusing into purchasing products. It is easy to get caught up in something when the ads say it’s the next best thing and claims to fix all your problems. This can hit new parents especially hard. Babies are so delicate and fragile that a brand-new mom and dad would do anything they are told to make the perfect life for their precious baby. For example, they can easily be manipulated into believing that all babies need to have Johnson’s baby cologne, when this is very untrue.
Parents should be doing their research. It would be extremely beneficial to gain information from websites that are unbiased. Even moms and dads who have raised children before are good sources to figure out what things are necessities and what are not. This makes me nervous to have a child of my own. I know I often easily fall into the Consumers Black Hole, but with the right education beforehand I could easily pull myself out, and others can too.
Looking through the Birth slides and some of the readings on the Early Life Matters content pages has opened my eyes to the vulnerability of parents to unneeded items and medical “necessities”. Firstly, medication; according to the National Women’s Health Network, “ART [assisted reproductive technology] is expensive (averaging $12,400 per cycle, with many patients requiring two or more cycles) and often is not covered by insurance, so it is natural for patients to seek a provider that can maximize their chance of success. Yet, a recent analysis of web content from 372 U.S. fertility clinics (out of a total of 381 clinics) suggests that the success rates being promoted are not based on reputable practices and/or standards,” (Walden, 2015). This shows that ART is neither an affordable nor a reputable practice that cannot be relied on, and yet thousands of families do. Secondly, according to the Birth Slides, a Cesarean Section is the most common surgical procedure in the United States with rates at about 31.8%. However, the rates are different based on hospital policies, not on health. Furthermore, the cost of vaginal birth and a Cesarean section are not the same, and while there is a plan to equalize the payment, one is not in place as of yet.
Keeping with the theme of unneeded vs. needed medical expenses, next to discuss is an article entitled “The Cord Blood Controversy”. In this article, many parents have chosen to freeze their child’s umbilical cord after birth in case of an autoimmune disease or genetic defect that could be cured with the stem cells from the cord. However, the problem with this is that not only does it cost a large sum of money, currently $1,000 to $2,000, it also may not be effective. If the infant has a genetic defect or a disease, the same defect or disease is likely in the umbilical cord, therefore rendering the stem cells in it useless to the child. In fact, to quote the article, “Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued statements in the late 1990s opposing the use of for-profit banks — and criticizing their marketing tactics,” (Moninger). However, it was stated that the umbilical cords may be donated to a public institution to be available for free for children who need stem cells. Lastly, we will revisit the Cesarean section topic. In the United States, if a mother has had a Cesarean section before, she will be denied a vaginal birth in the future. This is problematic because, as mentioned before, Cesarean sections are more expensive than natural births. However, according to the article “More women should have choice of vaginal birth after C-section, panel says” this information is untrue. In this article, and independent panel of women’s health experts say that “U.S. women should be given the option to have a vaginal birth after cesarean, stating that such births are reasonably safe,” (Roan, 2010). In other words, families have been forced to spend thousands of dollars on a procedure that they may not need which would impact them financially in a significant way. Families appear to be duped out of money from contraception to birth, and probably long after. Pre-parents and young parents need to look into all of their options for conceiving and birthing before making a decision. If they decide to visit a doctor, they should attempt to bring a list of questions so that they are able to get all of their answers at once and therefore spend less money. Everyone knows that being a parent is hard work and a lot of money, but many people do not realize that being a pre-parent can also be extremely expensive.
Moninger, J. (2017). The Cord Blood Controversy. Retrieved from http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-baby/cord-blood-banking/the-cord-blood-controversy/
Roan, S. (2010, March). More women should have choice of vaginal birth after C-section, panel says. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-0323-hosp-vbac-20100323-story.html
Walden, R. (2015, October). Direct-to-Consumer: Fertility Clinic Advertising on the Web. Retrieved from https://www.nwhn.org/direct-to-consumer-fertility-clinic-advertising-on-the-web/.
For this challenge I decided to talk to my friend who is majoring in Computer Science and knows next to nothing about food labels and nutrition. First, I had her look at the nutrition label on a box of organic cereal I own. She noted that she knows most of what the words in bold are excluding how potassium is impactful, however, she was mostly unable to tell me how the values of the word not bolded could impact her. She was aware that different kinds of fat are “varying degrees of bad” to quote her, but she was not sure which ones or why. However, she was confused as to how the total fat was 1.5g and yet all the different types of fat were listed at 0g. As for the vitamin and minerals section, she expressed great disinterest and no knowledge.
When I showed her the picture of the new label, she seemed more comfortable. The fact that there were less words on the label made it less intimidating for her. She also said that having the calories and the serving sizes enlarged made it feel like she was not being duped out of a product. She feels as though if she were to buy this she would know exactly what she was getting. She seemed much more relaxed given less information, as before she was unable to interpret all of it, but given the basics she felt much more comfortable. However, her one concern was that the ingredients list was interesting as it was more vertical than horizontal, which made it more difficult to read.
This was an interesting challenge to me because it is easy to forget that not everyone looks at package labels or knows how to read them. Since going into the field of nutrition, it has become second nature for me to read food labels because I have a genuine interest in it, however, that is not the case with everyone. I do agree with my friend in the case that the newer label is easier to read, however, I will miss the vitamin and mineral section, and I do not see a list of the different kinds of fats, but they may be a production choice rather than a requirement. All in all, I do believe that this label switch will benefit the general consumer, however, as someone studying food science and nutrition, I will miss the added information.