“Healthy Families on Track”: New Parent Support

Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Two weeks ago, Tech. Sgt. James Hamm and Staff Sgt. Stephanie Hamm
brought home their bundle of joy, baby Tyler James. He is their first
baby and he’s perfect at 7 pounds, 19.5 inches long.

“The first two days were nerve-racking,” said Sergeant James Hamm, with the 38th Construction and Training Squadron.

“We were mainly concerned with whether he was getting enough food,”
said Sergeant Stephanie Hamm, with the 735th Civil Engineer Squadron.

But the new parents drew comfort from the training they’ve received in
various classes in the New Parent Support Program, including infant CPR
and breastfeeding.

“We are first-time parents,” Sergeant Stephanie Hamm said. “We didn’t know anything.”

“We didn’t think we were ready,” said Sergeant James Hamm. “But when he came home, we felt we had a handle on it.”

New Parent Support Program is a team of nurses, social workers and
administrative assistants who provide educational support services to
Air Force and Army families. In addition to classes, families are
assigned their own nurse who makes home visits and is available to the
families by telephone 24 hours a day.

There are many resources for KMC new and expecting
parents, including a lending library, playgroups and mother support groups
for children with special needs and moms nursing. Here are some of the
programs offered for new and expecting parents.

New Parent Support Program, for new and expectant parents. Nurses provide
support and education during pregnancy and during the child’s first
three years.
Air Force members call 489-7868 or 0631-536-7868.
Army members call 489-7114 or 0631-536-7114.
— Prenatal Courses, free classes for Air Force and Army members including
Preparation for Parenting, Expectant Fathers, Breastfeeding: Getting
Started and Pumping; Preparation for Birth and Infant CPR. Call 489-7868 or 0631-536-7868.
— Car Seat Safety Check, for parents to have their car seat inspected by
a certified car seat technician. Call Ramstein Safety at 480-7233 or
06371-47-7233 or New Parent Support Program at 489-7868 or 0631-536-7868.
— Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby, a monthly day-long class, sponsored
by the Community Health Nursing at Landstuhl Medical Center, covering the
first three trimesters of pregnancy and includes a tour of the labor
and delivery and post-partum ward. Call 486-6909 or 06371-86-6909 to register.
— KMC Expectant Parent Orientation Class, provides information on birth
registration, passport information, pregnancy/postpartum information, and options
prenatal care on base and on the German economy. Call 486-7196 or 06371-86-7196.
— Bundles for Babies, a two-hour class that includes budgeting for baby,
basic baby care and parenting skills. Call the Family Support Center
at 480-5900 or 06371-47-5900.

“So many couples are here, overseas, without their parents,” said
Stephanie Cullinane, registered nurse who specializes in mother and
baby care. “They’re newly married, and it might be their first time
away from home. They are alone over here.”

New Parent Support Program nurses and social workers become their
families, ready to answer questions from how to breastfeed a baby to
proper nutrition for both the baby and the mother. The program offers
expectant parents prenatal and postpartum education, with an emphasis
on physical, emotional and social changes that challenge parents.

“We can really help them learn about what is happening to them during pregnancy,” Ms. Cullinane said.

Nurse Keila Duncan, who specializes in neonatal care, said home visits
are part of the program. Some parents may want extra help on the CPR
techniques or breastfeeding. They may have questions about child safety
and want some help preparing the home. “We’ll visit them as often as
they want,” Ms. Duncan said.

Nurses are ready to discuss baby brain development and nutrition said
Nurse Melony Valencia, who specializes in labor and delivery. They are
there to answer the questions moms or sisters are usually there to
answer, she said.

“A lot of their fears revolve around labor and delivery,” Ms. Valencia said. “They need reassurance and support.”

But the program is not just for new parents. Some parents who have
children are finding new information in the classes and sharing some of
the tricks they’ve learned over the years.

“There is always something to be learned,” Ms. Valencia said.
The program doesn’t end when new parents bring home their babies. Home
visits and educational classes continue until the baby is 3 years old.
There is new research on how babies’ brains develop and nurses can help
with developmental age-appropriate brain games to stimulate the baby’s

“You’re your baby’s first teacher,” Ms. Cullinane said.
“Their brains are sponges, and they are waiting to soak in everything.”