Army Community Service’s New Parent Support Program offers a number of free classes and one-on-one opportunities for soon-to-be parents to learn about the different aspects of parenthood and having a newborn.
Amy McCauley, nurse and child and family specialist for ACS, presented a newborn care class Feb. 6, during which she taught the soon-to-be parents what to expect in the baby’s first few years of life, from common ailments that the baby could suffer to different techniques a parent might use to breastfeed or put the baby to bed.
“We offer classes — childbirth, newborn care and breastfeeding classes — for expectant parents so that they get an idea of what they’re getting into,” McCauley said. “Once that baby comes, we’re available to do home visits for them if they have concerns, if there are questions, if there is something going on. If they feel they need a little bit of help, we’re there for them.”
Capt. Natasha Rivera, Command and General Staff College student who is expecting her first child in April, attended the newborn care class Feb. 6.
Rivera said learning about the different techniques of newborn care such as swaddling and burping was helpful.
“Now I’m better prepared than when I have to do it with my actual baby.”
Other things, like umbilical cord care, were aspects of having a newborn that she said she had not considered before.
“It definitely gave me insights of things that I just don’t know just from not ever having done it before.”
McCauley said that the NPSP newborn programs are not just for first-time parents.
“We get everybody, because honestly, every baby is different,” she said. “So, you may be on your third baby, but it is behaving a little differently than the first and second did, and you’re kind of hitting a wall. We’re there for you.”
McCauley said the most rewarding aspect of the services available to new parents is the relief of parents realizing their baby is behaving normally for a child their age.
“So many times a baby is doing something that is odd, different, scary. It’s a relief to have someone come and say ‘No, it’s okay’ or help you figure out what you need to do with that situation.”
Additional support for new parents includes an effort to help support families in socializing and connecting with other parents. Stroller Walks are every Friday for parents with children ages 3 years and younger, and Moms’ Nights Out occur on a monthly basis. A Dads’ Night Out is also in the works.
“That gets people together and gets people to talk and compare with other parents,” McCauley said.
Expectant parents are also able to take advantage of the home visits offered by the New Parent Support Program from pregnancy up to three years after the child is born.
ACS has a number of programs available to new parents, all working toward fostering a healthy home environment for both parents and children. See https://leavenworth.armymwr.com/programs/acs for a schedule of classes and other available programs.