Baystate’s New Beginnings: Raising Healthy Babies, One Family at a Time
“When you’re pregnant you read all of the books, take your classes and you think you know what to expect, then you give birth and you have things happen that you don’t expect, said Jordan LeMarier, looking back on the birth or her first child. Today, the new mother of two children credits The Baystate’s New Beginnings program with helping her build confidence as a parent.
“As a first time mother, it was great to have the Baystate’s New Beginnings program there to help,” she added.
The Baystate’s New Beginnings is a program out of the Parent Education Department that helps support parents of newborns. Jordan, like all mothers who deliver at Baystate Wesson Woman’s Hospital, was offered the free service after giving birth at the hospital.
Officially launched in September 2013, the program was inspired by a recent USDA study that looked at breastfeeding and childhood obesity rates, information on baby behavior and the direct link between the post-partum health of mother and baby.
“After learning about that study at a Baystate-sponsored conference, we thought about how to use that information to help support our patients,” said Emily Osborne, Parent Educator for the Baystate’s New Beginnings program. “Prior to the program there were only prenatal classes available for expectant parents, but we realized a small number were taking them so we decided to create the program,” she added.
The program not only focuses on what is going on day-by-day with the baby but also targets the new mom, what is happening in her body and her emotional recovery.
“When you’re a new parent you’re exhausted and so overwhelmed,” said Osborne. “Our goal is to help support new parents as well as address any concerns.” She added.
What to expect?
A parental educator checks-in with all new families one to two days after birth.
“We stop by and give you the New Beginnings guide. The calendar resource guide goes day-by-day for the first two weeks and then weekly after that with what to expect during the first three months of the newborn’s life,” said Osborne. “We also address her partner or family and how they can help support mom during her recovery, things she should look out for or be concerned about and how to contact us if she does have any concerns,” she added.
“The whole thing was a blur, but I remember feeling a little overwhelmed and that’s when they gave us the calendar, pamphlets with information and asked us if we had any questions. That really helped,” said Jordan.
The parent educator also offers to take your baby’s footprint that they put in the New Beginnings booklet as a keepsake.
“I remember the first time I met Emily, we knew her as the foot print lady,” said Jordan. It was nice to be able to ask her questions, she also asked for our phone number so she can check in on us later,” she added.
This program is unique because it focuses on normal newborn behavior.
”Most new parents feel like they have no idea how to figure out what they’re baby needs and wants,” said Osborne.
All newborns have similar behaviors. Knowing what these behaviors are and what they mean gives new parents the tools and know-how to respond to their baby. This will keep the baby from crying, helping parents build their self-confidence and cut down on stress at home. If new parents are constantly feeling stressed, overwhelmed and sleep deprived it can lead to other complications.
Post-Partum Screening and Follow-up Care
In addition to the calendar booklet and footprint keepsake, each mother is also screened for perinatal mood complications. Post-partum depression and anxiety are the most common complications of childbirth. One in seven women will experience it some point in the first year.
“In 2015 we started screening all moms after delivery when they are still in the hospital. This helps give us an idea of which moms may at risk,” said Osborne. “If the mom is experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, it can have an effect on her baby and her family,” she added.
In addition to screening in the hospital, educators also do a follow up phone call to check-in and see if there are any concerns.
“A few days after we left the hospital, Emily called us asked how we were doing and if we needed any lactation support, if we had any concerns about the baby or if we had any questions,” said Jordan.
The phone call serves as a check-in for new parents to address the challenges of the first week or two at home. It also gives the educators a chance to determine if the new mom may need additional support or resources, especially with regard to postpartum depression/anxiety.
“The hope is to give them the tools and support to cope through the challenging days and weeks then we can help protect her against any risks,” said Osborne.
Jordan not only took advantage of the footprint keepsake service and follow up phone call, she also registered for some of the other services offered by the Parent Education Department.
“I took the second part of the lactation class that went along with the first one I took while I was pregnant,” said Jordan. “ It really gave me a better understanding of how to feed and care for my baby and the benefits of breastfeeding,” she added.
Jordan says the program wasn’t only helpful in the months following her son’s birth; she still uses the program as a resource today.
“I not only continued to refer to my New Beginnings booklet, I also follow that Baystate Children’s Hospital and New Beginnings Facebook pages for regular posts about babies and raising a healthy family,” said Jordan. “Even after having my second child, I find the program to be very helpful.”
The Parent Education department offers a multitude of free classes and support groups to help parents keep a healthy balanced home life. They include everything from breastfeeding support to help for mothers with post-partum depression and anxiety to play groups.
“We do several ongoing groups that meet either weekly or twice a month. Anyone can attend and we encourage everyone to bring their children,” said Osborne. All of the classes and groups are facilitated by a parent educator or lactation consultant.”
Today, Jordan’s son is two-years-old and is now a big brother. Jordan says she looks forward to utilizing the program to help her learn how to cope with two children.
“I look forward to checking out some of the groups they offer,” said Jordan. “It’ll be great to be around other mothers who understand what you’re going through raising a toddler and a newborn,” she added.
For more information on The Baystate’s New Beginning Program, or to register for classes, or support groups call 413-794-BABY(2229).