Many expectant and new parents were shocked and dismayed to
hear of the sudden closing of Isis Parenting on January 15. News
media reported that this left a significant gap in programs and services not
only in regards to childbirth education, but during the initial postpartum and
early parenting stages as well. While Isis provided support to many new
parents, there are still other places that provide great support and advice.
Since 1999, The Parent Connection of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has provided new parents continued support in the adjustment to first time parenting through our mentoring service, groups, our workshop, “Becoming Parents” for expectant couples and in this weekly blog.
The program’s mentoring service matches first time parents with a trained mentoring mom volunteer who provides weekly phone call support through the first twelve weeks after leaving the hospital. In the words of one new mom, “My mentor was great. She was honest, funny and provided great insight on motherhood. I was hearing lots of opinions and reading experts’ advice on what I should be doing, but it was so helpful to have someone who would listen to me and help me determine what was right for my family. There were long stretches when I was home all alone with my baby, and it really made a difference to know that she was just a phone call away.”
The Parent Connection also offers new moms groups that are open to any new mom with a baby up to one year old. Groups are held in Lexington, Chestnut Hill, Dedham and at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton during daytime hours. The program also runs a group specifically for working moms that meets during evening sessions at the Dedham Health & Athletic Complex in Dedham.
Groups provide moms not only a place to ask questions and address common issues such as breastfeeding, going back to work, or not, and dealing with sleep deprivation, but they also provide a place for moms to meet other moms in their community and reduce the isolation so commonly experienced during the early weeks of parenting. Typically, the moms will also get together outside of regularly scheduled group time, and create a community of support that continues long after their baby reaches his/her first birthday. The groups are offered free of charge to any new mom regardless of where her baby was born.
In September, 2012 the program began to offer a workshop, Becoming Parents, during the third trimester of pregnancy, to expectant couples who were delivering at BIDMC. The workshop focuses on helping couples anticipate the realities of the newborn period and the adjustments they will need to make to accommodate the 24 hour cycle of newborn care. The workshop has been hugely popular, and couples who have participated describe that they learned things they had not at all considered before, but found valuable as they planned for the arrival of their baby.
Since the Parent Connection began in 1999, we have supported close to 10,000 families in the amazing and sometimes overwhelming adjustment to parenthood, always free of charge. BIDMC is also the only Boston hospital that offers these types of services for new and expecting parents…seems to fit nicely with our “Human First” philosophy.
This post is written by Christine Sweeney, is a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years’ experience working with new moms and babies at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She is the founder and manager of the Parent Connection, a free support service offered to first time parents to support the adjustment to parenting.