Humans are wired for connection, particularly during times of stress or change. Becoming a parent is enough to rock even the most well-prepared boat. New parents are learning right alongside their babies, discovering new things about themselves as they get to know this little person. For many of us, the reality of the first year doesn’t match up to how we envisioned parenthood, even when it comes to meeting our baby’s basic feeding needs and meeting our own needs that allow us to care for our babies. Feeding support for those who are breast/chest feeding, using formula, or both, and opportunities to socialize in a setting that is welcoming of babies in all their noisy, fussy, messy glory can serve as vital parts of a new family’s life. Baby Connection, offered virtually and in-person by Parenting Now, based in Eugene, OR, provides one of these opportunities.
Unfortunately, society is not always friendly towards babies and young children, and the added stress of worrying about the baby crying or fussing in public places where others may not respond well can add to the feelings of isolation. The United States, more than those that provide greater community support to new parents, sees high rates of perinatal mood disorders, statistics cite up to 20% of women and up to 18% of men experience significant anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues after the birth of a child. Parents who adopt must also grapple with changes and challenges that can come with the big adjustments a baby can bring. These statistics highlight the value of free, accessible, and welcoming support for all.
Baby Connection, and similar programs throughout the state, give parents a space to ask questions and get support from parenting experts, retired nurses, feeding specialists, and lactation consultants. These conversations and moments of connection form a community of caring and can serve as the “village” we turn to during these moments of profound change. For those families in rural areas, those with transportation issues, or if it’s one of those days where it’s just hard to get out of the house, the option to connect with feeding specialists and other parents on Zoom can give them a chance to socialize and get support.
In person or online, everyone mingles together and provides information, emotional support and most importantly they listen to parental concerns. On any given day the questions could be about feeding, sleep, safety, calming a baby, integrating the baby into the family milieu, siblings, pets, toys, clothes, car seats, etc. “Baby Connection was a lifesaver for me when I first moved to Eugene,” says one parent. “Baby Connection was a very welcoming place that eased a lot of my worries, and made me feel more comfortable breastfeeding.”
Baby Connection is free to attend on Wednesdays from 11 am to 12 pm, followed by WellMama’s New Parent Support Group. Join in-person at 86 Centennial loop in Eugene, or join virtually over Zoom by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was written by: Meredith Tufts, First Three Years Program Manager at Parenting Now; Debbie Jensen, IBCLC credentialed lactation and feeding consultant; and Kallen Korin, retired RN IBCLC.
This article appeared in the February 2023 edition of Oregon Family Magazine.