Support for new moms and dads
Having a new baby can be overwhelming, but new parents don’t have to struggle alone. Cape Cod Hospital offers plenty of classes and support services to help guide the way, beginning with Birth and Beyond and continuing with other courses offered to families, such as Mom’s Café, Baby Breakfast Club and Fatherhood Pizza Parties.
“Moms leave the hospital at 48 hours after a vaginal delivery and 96 hours after a C-section,” said childbirth instructor Ann Macdonald, RN. “We give them an owner’s manual so they have something to refer to, because it’s hard to learn everything that we want to teach you in 48 hours.”
A nurse from the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod calls new mothers within 48 hours of discharge to set up an in-home visit to answer any questions and make sure both mom and baby are thriving. In addition to the VNA follow up, within five to seven days after they deliver, Cape Cod Hospital makes a follow-up phone call to check on the mother and baby status and make appropriate referrals, if needed.
Still, new and experienced mothers want and need even more support.
They find it at the Mom’s Café on Friday mornings and the Baby Breakfast Club on Monday mornings. The Mom’s Café is a support group led by Macdonald where new mothers talk about their birth experience and ask questions. Macdonald often includes an educational component as well, and takes suggestions of topics from the mothers.
Recent topics included safe infant body carrier techniques, infant massage techniques and teaching new moms sign language for infants. The Baby Breakfast Club offers breastfeeding mothers hands-on help, if needed, and provides answers to breastfeeding questions. There are also discussions on breastfeeding topics at different stages of development. Both groups are well attended, free and no registration is required.
First-time mother Gabrielle Boisvert brought her daughter Simone to Mom’s Café recently and learned how to communicate with her baby using sign language. She works as a surgical technician at Cape Cod Hospital, so she planned to introduce Simone to her friends after the support group.
Like Boisvert, first-time mother Erin Lescault attends both the Mom’s Café and the Baby Breakfast Club with her son Levi. The information about both programs was in the packet she received when she was discharged from the hospital.
“I first came when he was two weeks old because we needed to get out of the house and do something,” she said. “This is our third time.”
One of the most helpful things about the moms groups, according to the women we talked to, is that the nurse/leaders weigh the babies before and after they nurse, and sometimes between breasts, so mothers can see how much breast milk their babies are getting with each feeding. International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Heather Lakatos, RN, leads the Baby Breakfast Club and is on hand to offer advice and support to nursing moms.
“That was one of my fears before I came, because how do I know if I’m producing enough milk?” Boisvert said.
Lescault said that her friend attends even though it’s her second baby, because there is always new information to learn.
“Breastfeeding is hard,” Macdonald said. “Everybody’s body is different and everybody’s baby is a little bit different. You could breast feed two different babies and it would be totally different, even if they have pretty much the same genetic makeup and you have the same equipment.”
It might seem like the mothers are the focus, but new fathers need support as well. Macdonald has a once-a-month Fatherhood Pizza Party with discussion topics geared towards dads. Recent topics have included how to soothe a fussy baby, a talk by a pediatrician, and music and movement.
“The dads that came last time were excited that they were trusted to take care of the babies,” Macdonald said. “The wives met and went out to dinner because some of them were friends in this group.”
Nursing mothers who have questions can call the CCHC Lactation Warmline at 508-862-7266 to speak with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).