Archive for Friday, August 9, 2002

Exploring baby-friendly Lawrence

August 9, 2002


The birth of a new family member is typically a joyous occasion, but becoming a new parent can also be a frightening and overwhelming venture.

For those times when parents, even those with older children, need a little help, there are a number of groups and organizations in Lawrence to make becoming a mommy or daddy a little easier.


Cheryl Adams, a Community Education Specialist at Lawrence Memorial Hopsital, said LMH's prenatal classes are a good idea for any expectant mom. She said the classes help ease the fear of labor and let the mother know what to expect when delivering her baby.

"The class includes third trimester discomforts all the way through the process of birth and how to cope with labor," Adams said. "The class also has a particular emphasis on the support person, who is going to be with mom during the labor."

Prenatal classes do not just teach parents about the birthing process, Adams said.

"We talk about new parenting issues," she continued. "We do some role-playing on the typical first weeks when you come home from the hospital, what it's going to be like and how are you going to manage everything and have them come up with a plan to deal with that."

The class is fee is $30 per person or $50 per couple. Adams suggests that mothers contact the hospital at least four months before their due date to ensure a place in the class.

Adams said the hospital also offers a refresher course for parents who have been through the class before, during subsequent pregnancies. The refresher class fee is $20 a person or $25 per couple.

The hospital also offers a two-part class in breast feeding.

"We strongly encourage parents to breast feed their baby, even if it is just for a short while," Adams said. "The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend that babies be breast fead for the first year of their life. Based on that we offer a two-part breast feeding class."

Part one focuses on the first-time breast feeding, and any fears the mother might have. Part two focuses more on moms that want to return to work after birth. The course helps the mother how to chose a breast pump, introduce a bottle and supply the baby with milk while at work.

LHM also offers a BabyCare workshop for new parents who have never taken care of a newborn. Using dolls, parents learn to bathe, diaper and wrap a newborn. The class also teaches parents when and how to introduce foods, and basic first aid, Adams said.

"We do encourage parents to take the infant and child CPR class," Adams commented, "especially parents who have never had CPR training. Often parents are the first to be there if something happens to the baby and it can be really scary."


While at Lawrence Memorial, moms-to-be can receive a massage from a therapist certified in prenatal massages at the Kreider Rehabilitation Services.

Wendy Kelemen-Braden, board-certified massage therapist at Kreider Rehab, said research has shown that mothers who receive prenatal massage often report easier labors.

"The Touch Research Institute in Florida has done research on the massage therapy and the benefits of massage therapy," Kelemen-Braden said. "One of the studies they have done is massage on pregnant women. What they have found is that pregnant women who receive massage therapy throughout the duration of their pregnancy report less pain, have less complications during their labor and delivery and have quicker reported recovery times."

She added that it is important that expectant mothers receive a massage from a therapist who is trained in prenatal massage because certain points on an expectant mother can stimulate labor or contractions.

Kelemen-Braden also teaches an infant massage class for parents. She said infant massage helps bonding, mental development and helps ease colic and gas.

"It facilitates bonding that might not otherwise occur in that area," she said. "Again the Touch Research Institute has done research on massage with babies. One thing that massage does with babies is it increases the rate of milinization which is the formation of the nerve fibers."

Kelemen-Braden said nine-month-olds who have been given regular massages score cognitively hight on tests than babies who have not received any massage.


Parents who want to make sure their child is developing well after birth can call on Parents as Teachers, a free program funded through the local school district.

Deanne Kaywood, parent educator for Parents as Teachers, said that by joining the program, parents can have a trained parent educator visit their home for one hour every week, for up to eight weeks, to check their child's development.

"We talk to the parents about their child's development and what's coming up next," Kaywood said. "We do developmental screenings to make sure they are developing correctly. If they are not, we catch it early and refer them to apropriate agencies."

Kaywood said Parents as Teachers also serves as a resource for parents to find things for their children to do in the community, as well as answers for any questions they have about their child's development.

Tammy Rystrom, Lawrence resident, said she began working with Parents as Teachers eleven years ago when her daughter Piper was born. Then it was just a pilot program in Topeka.

"I would definately recommend it to other people," Rystrom said. "I got great ideas of things that I could do with the kids that are relatively inexpensive and things we could make together and toys we could make with very, very inexpensive things around the house. It has also provided me with a lot of security."

Parents who are worried their child may not be developing on schedule may also call the Douglas County Infant-Toddler Coordinating Council. Dena Braccian, Coordinator of the ICC, said the ICC works mainly with children with developmental problems.

"We work with special needs children from birth to three years," she said. "If a parent thinks their child may not be developing on schedule, they can give our office a call. We do free developmental screenings."

The council's services include speech-language pathology, physical and occupational therapy, nursing and health services, as well as audiology and vision screenings, Braccian said.


Rich Mender, collaborative projects coordinator for Lawrence-based Success by 6, said his coalition brings help to families in need to ensure the child will be properly developed by the age of six. Because Success by 6 is a coalition of over 35 individuals and groups, families can find help in a number of different ways, Mender said.

In addition to bringing awareness of early childhood learning and reading to the community, Success by 6 heads two teams that bring aid to parents and child care providers.

The first is the Family Resource Team, an interagency team that helps parents when they are in a position that may hamper their parenting skills.

"It is the only team in the county that is truly an interagency team," he said. "We have family resource specialists from different agencies that specialize in different kinds of supports for families. One agency supports a family in one way and another agency can support a family in a different way. By coming together they really make sure the family gets what they need with the least amount of run-around."

Success by 6 also heads the Infant and Toddler Initiative, Mender said. The initiative helps increase the amount and quality of out-of-home infant and toddler care, by means of grants and subsidies.

Parents can find medical assistance at the Douglas County Health Department. Nancy Jorn, director of the maternal and child health field programs at the health department, said the department offers pregnancy and parenting services for teens and low income families.

"We provide education, support and referral during pregnancy, and for up to a year after the baby is born," she said. "And for teen mothers we also have a program called teen independence projects that helps teen moms stay on track for their own personal goals for education, so teen moms can work with us until they are 21."

Jorn said mothers can sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children at the health department. She said through W.I.C, women can receive nutrition education and assessment, as well as food vouchers for food products that are important for pregnant women and children.

The health department also offers Well Child Clinics that provide children up to the age of five with physical exams, Jorn said. She added that children can also receive all basic immunizations at the health department.


Mother-to-Mother of Douglas County offers mothers support from other mothers. The organization pairs a partner mom with one or two support moms, according to Laquetta Diggs, Mother-to-Mother coordinator.

"The theory, and I think that it works, is that mothers who get together and share experiences and offer support to one another can take on wonderful roles," Diggs said.

Diggs also said that after the mothers fill out applications, she teams them according to their personality traits. After a teaming meeting, the mothers sign a contract saying they will speak over the phone at least four hours a month for a year. The each woman must also attend a reflection meeting once every month. Diggs said at the meetings the women share stories and experiences. Many meetings also include a how-to tutorial. Past teachings include powder-puff mechanics and home organization.

Diggs said Mother-to-Mother programs are even extended to men. A program called Dad's Time is in the works for September.

"It is for fathers who want to process some of their own parenting issues in a support group of men," she said. "We do this program both in the jail and in the community and it is funded by juvenile justice."

The group has also offered parenting and computer classes. A full schedule for next year's events will be set in September.

Finding Child Care

For those moms who want to venture back into the work force, the Douglas County Child Development Association offers help finding apropriate child care, DCCDA executive director Donna Masoner said.

"According to what the parents tell us, we give them a list of child care providers that suit them and have openings," she said. "It is up to the parent to ask questions and find which child care provider is best for them and their child."

Masoner said a list of questions and tips for choosing a care giver is available on the DCCDA web site.

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