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New Moms, Get Out of the House This Winter

January 18, 2011

Free Baby ‘n’ Me Support Group Offers Chance to Trade Tips, Make New Friends

It’s easy during the winter months to feel cooped up. For moms with a baby in the pre-crawling stage, it’s also easy to start feeling isolated while adjusting to motherhood.

The solution? Washington Hospital’s free Baby ‘n’ Me Support Group. It’s a great, no pressure way to get out of the house—and meet new friends.

"Our group is very laid back and casual," says Karen Smith, R.N., coordinator of Washington Hospital’s Maternal/Child Health Education Department and Breastfeeding Support. "You don’t put on any makeup or dress up. Come as you are and share tips and stories with other moms."

Benefits for Mom and Baby

The group meets twice a week on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. both days with no distinct start or end time.

"There’s no time moms and babies have to arrive or leave," Smith says. "We don’t have any stringent rules attached to this program; it’s very relaxed."

In addition to moms getting the opportunity to trade valuable information about their tots, babies also benefit, according to Smith.

"Mats are put down so that babies can get some tummy time," she says. "Sometimes we forget, but it’s important for babies to get some time on their stomachs. Plus, it gives them a chance to visualize other babies across the mat. Research has shown that babies really tune into faces, so this is a great time for that.

"At the same time, moms get to see what other babies do at this age. Sometimes moms worry about what their baby is doing, whether or not it’s ‘normal,’ and it can be reassuring to see other babies’ behavior."

Meeting other moms

Smith also points out that the social benefits of Baby ‘n’ Me often extend well beyond the group’s meeting times.

"Many new friendships have been made during Baby ‘n’ Me and that leads to other avenues for moms to enjoy each other’s company," she says. "Some of the moms have groups of their own and walk around Lake Elizabeth together. Instead of becoming isolated with their new baby, these women make connections and get out of the house for something relaxing and enjoyable."

Not surprisingly, according to Smith, participants of the group often express their appreciation that Baby ‘n’ Me is offered free to community members.

"It’s really a great bonus that the hospital’s leadership feels that community services, like Baby ‘n’ Me, are an important part of our offerings," she says.

Support for breastfeeding and pumping

Another important element of support offered by Smith’s department is breastfeeding support.

"We’ve found that there are still many women in the community who are unaware that our lactation center has a store and rental station for lactation equipment, including breast pumps," she says. "In the event you can’t breastfeed, we offer hospital-grade breast pump rentals at the best price."

Plus, when moms come in, board-certified lactation consultants are available to provide support and education that helps each client feel comfortable with the equipment and process of pumping. As an added benefit, rental terms are also flexible, Smith says.

"You can rent for a day or as long as you want," she adds. "We are focused on making each client comfortable with both breastfeeding and pumping. We carry pumping supplies and replacement parts for Medela pumps; we even have nursing stools to ease low back discomfort, which can be surprisingly important."

On the road to parenthood

Speaking of comfort, Smith says, a great way for pregnant moms to feel comfortable and confident is through a gentle yoga program designed especially for expecting moms.

Due to the popularity of the ongoing Prenatal Yoga class offered on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., a new section is also being held on Friday mornings from 10 to 11.

This is a great way for expecting moms to stay fit and flexible on the road to delivery, Smith says.

And, finally, for expecting parents who have been meaning to attend a prepared childbirth class, but haven’t had time for the six-week traditional class, Smith highly recommends the Express Class, a one-day, eight-hour complete overview of the child-birthing experience. (The next class will be held Sunday, Feb. 6.)

Get support here

Washington Hospital’s Maternal/Child Education Department offers a range of classes and programs for new and expecting parents. For more information, call (510) 791-3423 or visit www.whhs.com/childbirth-classes for the most up-to-date information.

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