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June 18, 2008 > Calling All New and Expectant Parents

Calling All New and Expectant Parents

Summer is the Time to Get Out with Baby and Enjoy Social Opportunities

Having a baby changes everything. We've all heard this before, but at no point does that phrase have more meaning than when you see two blues lines on the pregnancy test, or better yet at 3 a.m. when you're stumbling down the hallway to nurse a brand new infant.
As coordinator of Washington Hospital's Maternal/Child Education Department, Karen Smith, R.N., knows how hard it can be for new parents to come to terms with enormous changes while trying to maintain a healthy social life with an infant, as well as how many questions expectant moms may have about their pregnancy and what lies beyond.
Smith wants new parents to know there are resources available to them and they are easy to access. Her department offers a wide variety of classes, as well as breastfeeding support services and a lactation center right across the street from the main hospital.
Some services and programs, such as the Baby 'n' Me Support Group, are free, while others are the lowest cost in the area, she points out.
An old favorite
The Baby 'n' Me group, which continues to be an extremely popular offering, gives new moms the opportunity to share stories and tips in a relaxed atmosphere under the guidance of a trained facilitator, Smith says.
"For moms, it's so hard to be home by themselves after they've had a baby," she explains. "But when women connect during Baby 'n' Me, they forge friendships with other moms and do fun things like go out to lunch or walk around Lake Elizabeth together. Plus, the group gives mothers more outlets to learn about child development."
The group, which accommodates moms and their babies from newborn to the crawling stage, takes place Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at 2299 Mowry Ave., Suite 2C, Fremont.
As an added benefit, Smith says the group will soon be incorporating brief talks by physicians who will discuss subjects such as teething, allergies and introducing foods.
Giving the gift of communication
One of the newer classes gaining in popularity, Smith says, is Sign, Say and Play, based on Baby Signs, Inc., which teaches parents how to communicate with their babies before they can talk.
The department offers Sign, Say and Play as a two-hour workshop for adults, including moms, dads, grandparents or other caregivers, allowing participants learn different techniques for signing using a color workbook and CD.
The next session will be offered Saturday, July 12. To learn more, call (510) 791-3423.
For dads and moms that want to include their baby in the learning process, Sign, Say and Play is also offered as a six-week series. Through stimulating activities, songs and play, parents and their six- to 12-month old infant learn six to seven signs each week.
"Remember, Mom doesn't have to do everything by herself!" Smith says. "Get Dad involved, too. Everyone who goes just loves it."
The next six-week series begins August 28. Call the above phone number for more information.
Form a closer bond with your baby
The power of touch is enormous. Babies especially need physical contact, just as much as they need food and sleep.
Learning infant massage is a great way for parents to communicate their love through touch, and the Infant Massage class teaches exactly how to do it. A parent and one additional family member may attend this four-week course with their infant from birth to pre-crawling.
"The babies all come in crying and they leave relaxed and happy," Smith says of the Infant Massage class.
Another great way to strengthen the parent-infant bond is to learn how to carry your baby properly in a sling or wrap. Unlike traditional infant carriers, slings and wraps enable parents to carry their infant "hands-free" while keeping him or her close.
Wraps and slings are available for purchase at 2299 Mowry Ave., Suite 2C, Fremont and parents are invited to take advantage of a free class that teaches how to use them.
"Summer is a great time to go walking with your infant, and slings and wraps give you the freedom to get out and about without carrying a cumbersome carrier with you or having to get out the stroller," Smith says.
Get in shape for a better pregnancy
Being fit during pregnancy can make for an easier delivery and promote overall health and wellbeing. That's why Smith's department offers a Prenatal Exercise program specifically designed for pregnant women, which focuses on low-impact cardiovascular exercise, mild resistive exercise, yoga and relaxation techniques.
The classes are ongoing and offered Monday evenings and Saturday mornings. The program requires a doctor's approval and participants must register.
To learn more, call (510) 791-3423.
An abundance of classes
Both a healthy pregnancy and having a healthy baby begin with knowledge. Washington Hospital offers a number of other important classes to help new and expecting parents.

To see a list of the latest classes and programs, call (800) 963-7070 for your free copy of the Health & Wellness Catalog.
Call (510) 791-3423 for complete times, dates, location, cost and additional information about Childbirth & Parenting classes offered at Washington Hospital.
Visit, click on "Services & Programs" and select "Birthing Center" from the drop-down menu for more information about pregnancy, birth and your newborn.

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