We will be frequently profiling one of our newly funded programs. This week, we look at Hospital Visitation to the Parents of Newborns, under our Education (Early Childhood) focus area. Our friends at Family Connections have provided us with some great Parent Educator stories about the work they are doing.
The Parents of Newborns Project provides parenting education and resources to families within 48 hours after childbirth to help ensure optimal mental and physical health of parents and infants and to encourage positive parent-infant interactions. Parent educators follow up with families to provide further resources and support.
Parent Educators with the Parents of Newborns Project are staff, contractors and volunteers who work with families to provide support during the newborn period. Parent Educators come from diverse background and go through extensive training on varied topics that are essential in supporting new families such as:
- Child development
- Positive Parenting
- Health and Safety (car seats, safe sleep guidelines, etc)
- Infant Feeding
- Postpartum Adjustment and Depression
- Community Resources
- Hospital Procedures
Perhaps the most important skill Parent Educators have is active listening and providing peer support. Parent Educators literally provide a shoulder to cry on and a heart to listen to new parents who are adjusting to life with a new baby.
Comments from Parents
From a Dad: “I call your notebook of information, the manual, the Baby Manual.”
One mom told us that our book had the most useful information she had, that she had 10 other reference books that she had gotten as baby-shower gifts, and they were gathering dust on the shelf.
From a Mom: “You came into the hospital room at just the right time. I could not get my baby to stop crying. Thought I was a failure at breastfeeding and as a mom. You encouraged me to take her in my arms and try again. When my baby stopped crying and looked into my eyes, I knew I could do this. Thank you.”
Often Parent Educators use reflective practice to think back about how they can improve their connections with families. Below are some stories from the Parents of Newborns Project.
Parent Educator stories
15 year old mom with good family support. Father of the Baby not involved.
The pediatrician was at the hospital to see the baby, he stopped me in the hall to ask who I was with and what services we offered. After a brief explanation, from me, he thanked me for coming to see this mom, because she was also his patient and he felt she needed extra care.
When I walked into the room, it was clear that Tammy was ready for a lecture, and in typical teen style she crossed her arms across her chest and looked up defiantly.
I introduced myself, and put the binder to the side. I decided to open honestly,
“I know it might be hard having people come in and look at your age and make assumptions. I want you to know that my assumption is that you want to be the best mom you can be and you want to do well by your child. I am here to help.”
Tammy’s Grandmother was in the room with her. She related how proud they were of her, and how much they loved her and their new great grandson.
Tammy and I talked about her plans for school and her plans for the baby. We talked about what babies need, and that she had everything her baby needed.
When I left, I mentioned the binder and pointed out the tabs with all the information for her to read when she had time.
I was unable to reach her at the 3 day follow-up call.
At the one-month follow-up call she was home and spoke for a long time. She and her baby are doing well. She is very proud of her son and spoke warmly of him and his little smiles. When I asked if she had a chance to look at the binder we left her at the hospital she told me she read it cover to cover the day she and her son came home from the hospital. That night, he cried and cried. She was worried, but she opened the binder to the crying tab. She tried all hints and tips. Her son still cried, but she kept saying to herself “I have 3 more things to try… I have two more things to try…”
She said her son kept crying, but her stress was so much less knowing that she had things she could try, and knowing that she was doing all she could for him. He eventually cried himself out, and she was happy to know that she was still a good parent, even if she had a crying baby, because she was trying to help him.