Easing the fear of parenthood
SILVERTHORNE – Being a mom is a scary thing, especially when you don’t have family and friends nearby to help. One day, it’s just you and your partner. The next day, you have a baby, only days old, to feed and nurture.But Nurse-Family Partnership eases transitions for first-time parents with annual incomes of $25,000 or less.The program, which started three years ago in Summit County, works with 50 families in Summit and 50 others in Clear Creek, Gilpin and Lake counties.
Wednesday, the organization held a barbecue to celebrate the first group of parents that completed the program, in which nurses meet with parents an average of once a week from pregnancy until their children turned 2.”I didn’t have any family around or friends who had been pregnant. I just didn’t have a clue,” said Melinda Krasowski, whose family lives in New Mexico and Chicago. “It just let me know that I was doing everything all right. It made me feel confident in what I was doing as a mom,” she said. “I had someone to call any time I had questions or was having a hard time. (My daughter) Chloe had respiratory virus when she was 18 months old, and Amy (the nurse) calmed me down and gave me advice.”The program, which encourages prenatal care, personal development and the involvement of fathers, is based upon more than 20 years of research on nurse home visitation for first-time parents by Dr. David Olds at the University of Colorado. Research showed a decrease in child abuse and neglect, substance abuse in the children, better personal development including professional and educational development in mothers, and a healthier pregnancy and birth, said Courtney Thomas, nurse consultant with Invest in Kids, the nonprofit, umbrella organization that supports Nurse-Family Partnership.Tobacco settlement money funds the program, which has served about 3,000 women statewide in four years, Thomas said.
“We focus on clients’ strengths and hook them up with resources,” said Amy Wineland, nurse supervisor and home visitor. “We help them work on any goals – whatever their heart desires, whether it be breast feeding, getting their GED or going back to school.”I believe every first-time mother struggles and has questions, and we provide information to help guide them to be the best parents they can be. It’s scary to become a parent, and I think our program eases those fears. Our clients are better parents because they get an education in what’s available and how to stimulate their children’s development.”Damaris Lopez learned how to teach and discipline her child and how to plan for the future. Her scariest moment came when her baby’s soft spot sunk, which can be a sign of dehydration, but a nurse took her and her baby to the hospital and found out everything was OK.”It would be very difficult without the program,” Lopez said through translator and nurse Sandi Schuessler. “I could never imagine how it would be with a child (before the program helped me).”Each client receives individualized support, depending on her needs.
“There are so many ways you can raise a child,” Schuessler said. “Just watching the different temperaments of the mom and the temperaments of the child and how they make it work is amazing.”Nurses supported Raul and Maria Ramirez when their son was born nine weeks premature. They taught the couple to use oxygen equipment and deal with feeding problems. At the barbecue Wednesday, their son, Jonathan, ran around the playground smiling.”It was a good thing to be in the program,” Ramirez said, “because now I’m having my second baby coming up and I don’t have any worries.”Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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