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December 17, 2008 > More Than Just Childbirth and Parenting Classes

More Than Just Childbirth and Parenting Classes

New Parents Make Friends, Find Vital Social Support

Cristina Garcia Gamboa and her husband, Manuel Gamboa, welcomed their first baby into the world on May 4. And not only was the proud couple adjusting to life as new parents, Cristina and Manuel were also to settling into life in a new state and town.

The couple moved to Fremont from Redwood City a year and a half ago. Before that, they lived in San Marcos, Texas. Cristina says there were a lot of changes, first when they moved and then as they prepared to become new parents.

At first, the thought of having a baby so far away from home, Cristina says, made her very nervous, but things soon fell into place.

To get ready for their new role, Cristina and Manuel wasted no time in taking advantage of the childbirth and parenting education classes and programs at Washington Hospital.

Ready, set - baby!

They started out with the hospital's Prepared Childbirth Express class, which is aimed at couples in the last trimester of pregnancy. The class covers important labor preparation topics during a two-day period. The Prepared Childbirth/Traditional class offers the same information, spread out over six weeks.

"The birthing class was really nice for us since it was a really hectic time in our lives," Cristina remembers. "It forced us to stop during a really busy time. The woman who taught the course was really familiar with Washington Hospital, and it seemed like when we got to the hospital, everything she said would happen did. It was almost step-by-step.

"Nothing was shocking, and that made everything easier. Not being from here, it helped me feel at ease."

During her last trimester, Cristina says she and Manuel also took advantage of the hospital's Free Birthing Center Tour, which allows expectant parents and their families to become familiar with the Birthing Center.

"I think all the classes and programs have been very beneficial to us since we don't have a lot of family here, and we're new to the area," she says. "It's also comforting to know that other people going through the same thing and it helps to be able to ask questions."

After giving birth to her daughter, Cristina says she also benefited a great deal from the services offered through the Breastfeeding Support Services & Lactation Center, where she attended the Latch Clinic, which helps new moms with positioning and latch.

Sharing experiences with other new moms

When she finished the clinic sessions, as well as private sessions with a certified lactation consultant, Cristina tried out what has become one of her favorite programs - the Free Baby 'n' Me Support Group, a group for new moms to trade tips and trials in a relaxed environment under the supervision of trained facilitators Trisha Marell and Arlene Fryling.

"The support group has changed my perspective on everything," Cristina says. "It was to the point where I almost considered moving into a new apartment in the South Bay closer to my husband's office, and attending the group changed my mind.
I met other moms who I walk around Lake Elizabeth with regularly and go to a baby music class with. It's like a whole community that came out of the group. I'm not sure that every community has something like this for new moms. We thought about moving, but I didn't run into anything similar in other areas. I really feel fortunate to have found the group."

Karen Smith, Washington Hospital's Maternal/Child Education Coordinator, agrees that Baby 'n' Me is a great way for new moms to adjust to life with a brand new baby.

"The group not only helps moms network, it also supports them when they feel most alone in some ways," Smith says. "However cute they are, newborns are very needy and new moms can sometimes feel like they barely have time take a shower. You're on 24-7; it's like being a doctor on-call. You wear many hats as a mom, and this is great support group.

"When moms in the group start meeting at other times during the week, this a great outlet to promote emotional and physical health. They can brainstorm with other moms about questions so they don't always have to go to the pediatrician with questions about what might turn out to be a basic baby-raising issue that another mom in the group can answer."

Smith adds that the group also brings together women of different backgrounds and experiences.

A range of classes

Cristina and her husband haven't slowed down since having their daughter. They have already taken the CPR for Family & Friends (Infant/Child CPR), an American Heart Association course that teaches adults how to relieve choking and how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on an infant or child.

Now, they are eagerly looking forward to enrolling in the Sign, Say and Play class, which helps parents and infants between 6 and 12 months old to learn basic signs, enabling babies to communicate with their parents and caregivers before they can talk. Using stimulating activities, songs and play, infants learn six to seven signs each week during a six-week course based on Babysigns Inc.

During their first year of parenting, Cristina says she and her husband have learned that parenting requires a lot of work but is more rewarding than they ever imagined. Cristina adds that a simple smile from her daughter, Sofia Beatriz Gamboa, now 7 months old, means the world to her.

"Our baby doesn't sleep through the night yet," she says. "I think that you can do all the research in the world, but the best has been sitting with other moms and trying their advice. Firsthand experience is really helpful. The women who facilitate the support group are really helpful. Being able to discuss things that happen to you as a woman after you've had your baby and knowing what's going on has been really beneficial."

Wisdom for dads, too

Cristina is quick to point out that it's not just new moms who benefit from the childbirth and parenting classes at Washington Hospital. She says it's been a huge help to her husband, too.

"One thing I did find really helpful was the explanation of what happens to the body during pregnancy," she says. "This really put things into perspective for the guys in the Prepared Childbirth class. I think that was when things really hit my husband was during the class."

Cristina says that her husband feels like the classes helped him feel like an important part of the last trimester and labor and delivery.

"He says it made him feel really involved for the first time," she says. "Prior to that, he felt like it was just me going through the experience. He likes to research everything and calls himself an information junkie. He says the class helped address his need for more information."

The details about childbirth and parenting that they've learned, both before and after their daughter was born, have been invaluable, Cristina says. So much so that she hopes other parents will take advantage of local classes that are available to them.

"I would definitely recommend it," Cristina enthuses. "We took the birthing class, and since then we've run into people who took the class at the latch clinic. Overall, the structure of the information was enough to ease the labor experience and make the transition easier."

Preparing for Parenthood - Sign Up for a Course Today!

The journey of pregnancy and becoming new parents can be among the biggest and most welcome challenges women and couples face. Washington Hospital offers a full range of courses and programs to make the transition easier.

For a complete list of childbirth and parenting programs and classes available through Washington Hospital, call (800) 963-7070 for the latest version of the Health & Wellness catalog.

To access information on the Internet, visit, click on "Services & Programs," and select "Women's Health" from the drop-down menu for more information about pregnancy, birth and your newborn.

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