Boot camp prepares women for motherhood in Merced County

10/15/2013 8:27 PM

10/15/2013 9:26 PM

Being a new mother is no easy task, and babies don’t come with instruction manuals. That’s why Merced County’s Human Services Agency is sponsoring its first-ever Boot Camp for New Moms.

The three-hour workshops are designed to teach pregnant women and first-time moms some of the key things they need to know about motherhood — from changing diapers to dealing with crying babies.

No topic is off limits, regardless of how embarrassing it might seem, said Human Services Agency Director Ana Pagan.

“We’re there to help women who are having their first child figure out what to do in a safe environment where they can ask questions and feel comfortable,” Pagan said. “For me, it’s all about prevention and getting people off on the right start.”

The workshop is being conducted by experienced mothers and uses a one-on-one approach, pairing the veteran moms with the new ones.

Together, they will learn how to feed, burp, change and care for their babies. Other topics of discussion include self care and dealing with anxiety or postpartum depression, Pagan said.

Nora Gerber, who helped write the curriculum for the program, said the workshop includes child protection and safety topics, such as immunizations and shaking babies.

“What we’re trying to do is normalize the fears, the concerns and the joys that parents have by having them realize that everyone feels this way,” Gerber said. “We’re trying to take ourselves out of the Child Protective Services and prevent abuse, neglect and careless behaviors.”

Gerber said the workshops are also geared toward helping young and single moms adjust to motherhood. “When we talk with single moms, we talk about ways to juggle and balance, and ways to get support,” Gerber said.

The county’s human services agency will launch an “All Moms Matter” program in January, similar to the existing program for first-time fathers. The program will include similar workshops, support groups and parenting classes for mothers.

The agency is looking to start support groups for couples and teenage girls, with the ultimate goal of providing education and support.

“No matter what you were told, you get to choose every day what kind of mother you want to be,” Gerber said.

The workshops hold up to 12 women each, but preregistration is required. To register for one of the workshops, call Ka Xiong at (209) 381-5983.

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