Being a new parent can be tough—but Valley is here to help! Valley’s Birth Center and Children’s Therapy Clinic offer a variety of parent support groups which allow families to meet in a comfortable setting to share questions and concerns, offer feedback, and socialize with other new parents and their children. Each group has a Valley subject matter expert on-hand to answer questions and facilitate difficult discussion topics helps new parents navigate early childhood development with the support they need.
Facilitating two of these support groups is Valley’s very own Annie Kunkel, a Lactation Consultant with a background focused in maternal-child public health.* The first, “Adjusting to Parenting” is for new parents and their babies aged newborn to 12 months. Kunkel describes the group as a place where “Birth experiences [are] processed, and the universal questions and confusions about being a new parent are shared. Generally, I will bring evidence-based information to the next week’s discussion or refer to Valley’s outpatient lactation services if the issue is related to breastfeeding.”
“Adjusting to Parenting” meets every Wednesday from 1-2 PM in Valley’s Medical Arts Center building. There is no preregistration required and parents are welcome to join on a drop-in basis. “Very often the new moms don’t know other mothers with babies and feel very isolated. We all sit around a clean blanket with the afternoon sunshine coming through the windows and appreciate the diversity of new parenthood. No judgements and lots of empathy!” says Kunkel.
Kunkel also facilitates “Parenting Connections” a Wednesday drop-in class offered from 10:30-11:30 AM. This group is for parents with babies aged 12 to 24 months and is often composed of parents who started in “Adjusting to Parenting”. Kunkel says “Each session is unique. The flow is very organic and responsive to the emotions in the room. I am always impressed by the courage of women to be vulnerable and the generosity of women who care for a stranger’s needs. Sometimes we talk about a specific topic—sleep, feeding, travel, relationships and in-laws are favorites. I tend to bring up more difficult threads like resuming a sex life, expectations of partners, handling holidays, and the days you realize parenting can be a love-hate relationship—even with yourself!”
For both groups, “Everyone is invited to participate to their own inclination. Some need to be heard, some need or want feedback, some benefit from just listening. All benefit from getting dressed and out of the house!” says Kunkel. The groups are open to all new parents, even if their baby wasn’t born at Valley. “Our group is very diverse racially, culturally, and socioeconomically, and strongly connected by the learned understanding that everyone else has similar insecurities, questions, and hopes for their families. It’s a great part of my week!”
For a complete list of birth and parenting prep classes and support groups offered at Valley, visit valleymed.org/birthclass.
*For an article on the PEPS program offered at Valley, visit the We Are Valley blog.