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Hospital offers tool kit for new parents

Special Photo
Henry Medical Center has begun distributing "Early Moments Matter" kits to its new mothers. Each kit contains a handbook and a DVD to help new parents as they learn to understand their baby's needs.

Special Photo Henry Medical Center has begun distributing "Early Moments Matter" kits to its new mothers. Each kit contains a handbook and a DVD to help new parents as they learn to understand their baby's needs.

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

Henry Medical Center has a new resource available, intended to make the transition into parenthood easier for new mothers.

The hospital is distributing "Early Moments Matter" tool kits to its new moms, according to Michelle Nunnally, Henry Medical Center's public relations specialist.

The kits became available April 1, according to Pat McAfee, director of Women and Infants Services for the hospital.

Each kit contains a handbook and a DVD to guide new parents as they learn to understand their baby's needs through the infant's body language and other signals, Nunnally said. Through the kits, hospital officials aim to help new mothers develop trust and security with their baby, by connecting through the sense of touch, she said. The kits also focus on teaching mothers to care for their own emotional well being, by being aware of postpartum mood disorders, Nunnally added.

McAfee said she wanted to offer new parents help when they needed support after having a baby.

"I'm a volunteer coordinator for Postpartum Support International," said McAfee. "I became the manager for women's health here at Henry Medical Center in 2006. At that time, I realized we needed to do more to address postpartum depression. We really didn't have anything [and] we needed to have a better understanding of [it]."

Last year, McAfee said, she found an opportunity to make a difference when she received a memo from Postpartum Support International asking its members if they would be interested in offering the program to new parents.

"I wanted our moms to be involved in this," McAfee said.

The kits are also available to new fathers, she added.

The "Early Moments Matter" program is important, she said, because many do not understand postpartum mood disorders.

"Postpartum depression directly affects a mother's ability to bond and interact with her baby," said McAfee. "If you are depressed, you don't feel like smiling or playing little games with your baby.

"There is very little community awareness of postpartum depression," she added. "This tool kit is a method being used to increase awareness for the mother, and family members, to [help them] understand what it is, and that it's treatable."

Nunnally said the tool kit was created by Vulcan Productions, in collaboration with Cause & Affect, a firm that promotes social-change campaigns. New parents are encouraged to review the tool kit and complete an evaluation card to provide feedback to Cause & Affect on whether the tool kit is helpful.

Henry Medical Center is located at 1133 Eagle's Landing Parkway, Stockbridge. For more information, call (678) 604-1026.