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Individuals with FASD and women who use alcohol and drugs during pregnancy have long been targets of both overt and unconscious stigma.  We know that stigma can undermine FASD prevention and intervention efforts by assigning underserved blame, simplifying a complicated issue, and focusing on deficits rather than building on strengths. Women who are shamed are often afraid to seek services, which undermines prevention efforts. Recognizing this problem, the 14 Manitoba FASD Coalitions across the province created the “Looking After Each Other: A Dignity Promotion Project” in 2014 to “promote the dignity of those with FASD and their families.”

The Looking After Each Other project completed two new resources recently to add to their previous activities. One is the FASD Language Guide in both English and French that explains how and why the way we talk about FASD can be stigmatizing. The guide reviews certain commonly used words and phrases and offers alternatives. Some phrases were once the preferred term, but have been rethought over time. For instance, framing the issue of women using alcohol and drugs as “choosing to use” blames women by failing to recognize complicating factors such as mental health, addiction, or abuse issues that make it difficult to stop using during pregnancy.

The other new resource is a mini documentary that was made in collaboration with The Mothering Project in Winnipeg. Entitled “Meeting Women Where They Are At: Community Making a Difference,” it features several women who participate in the programs and services of the Mothering Project. By sharing their stories, viewers come to understand what these women have overcome, how they have built healthy relationships with themselves, their communities, and their children, which helps to dispel conscious and unconscious biases. As Tammy Rowan, Program Manager, explain the Mothering Project takes a relational approach to supporting women in their lives and as parents. Watch the mini documentary here.

For more information, see earlier posts:

COERCIVE MESSAGING FOR PREGNANT WOMEN? June 2, 2017

REACHING AND ENGAGING WOMEN: WHAT WORKS AND WHAT’S NEEDED May 15, 2017

CONVERSATIONS ON ALCOHOL: WOMEN, THEIR PARTNERS, AND PROFESSIONALS April 23, 2017

FASD PREVENTION WITH INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN AUSTRALIA April 3, 2017

FIRST-EVER FASD PREVENTION PLENARY AT THE 7TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON FASD March 22, 2017

NEW FACILITATOR’S FASD TRAINING GUIDE FOR FIRST NATIONS WOMEN January 3, 2017

NEW ZEALAND’S NEW ACTION PLAN TO ADDRESS FASD September 17, 2016

“SUPPORTING PREGNANT WOMEN WHO USE ALCOHOL OR OTHER DRUGS: A GUIDE FOR PRIMARY HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS” May 15, 2016

THE MOTHERING PROJECT/MANITO IKWE KAGIIKWE IN WINNIPEG, MANITOBA May 1, 2015

Overview: Four Levels of FASD Prevention

Information Sheet: What Men Can Do To Prevent FASD

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