BIDMC's Parent Connection Celebrates 20 Years

Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC

OCTOBER 18, 2019

20 Years Celebration

This year, The Parent Connection at BIDMC is celebrating 20 years of supporting families in the amazing and often overwhelming transition to parenthood! Since our start in 1999, we've connected with over 12,600 families, AND we continue to be the only hospital-based service of its kind in the Boston area.

If you haven't yet heard, here's an idea of what we do:

Mentoring Moms

Parent Connection mentoring volunteers are moms (many of whom received program services and want to "give back"). Mentors receive extensive training and have ongoing supervision from a clinical social worker experienced with pre/postpartum adjustment issues. Any first-time parent delivering at BIDMC can be matched with a mentor who provides weekly phone call support through the first 12 weeks post-delivery. Our mentor moms provide support, reassurance and a fresh perspective, and reduce the isolation so commonly experienced in those early weeks home with baby.

New parents had the following to say about their experience with our mentor service:

  • "I was so down and stressed the first few weeks of being a new mom. Reaching out and getting a mentor was the best thing I did. I truly feel so much more confident about being a mom and can now really enjoy the experience. I can't thank this program enough!"
  • "My mentor always seemed open to a variety of approaches to any particular issue and shared her own personal experiences as a parent. That made it easier to talk about my challenges. She did not pass judgment and was a great listener."

New Parent Groups

We currently facilitate New Parent Support Groups in three different locations: Chestnut Hill, Dedham and Milton. We also offer a group for working moms that meets during evenings in Dedham. Each of these groups has a dedicated following that meets for the first 12 months of their babies' lives. Members report building strong friendships and often meet outside of formal group sessions sharing plans/resources and support on Facebook groups they've created for group members. In response to feedback from our patients, we also started a postpartum breastfeeding support group that meets every Wednesday from 12:00 noon - 1:30 pm at BIDMC. All Parent Connection groups are offered free of charge and open to any parent with a baby age 0-1 year. For more information or to register for our groups, visit The Parent Connection.

Becoming Parents Workshop

These workshops are held monthly for pregnant couples during the third trimester, to begin to plan and adjust to life with a baby. The workshop is a mix of informative lecture and interactive activities to help parents plan for the next chapter in their lives. Unlike childbirth education classes which focus on the physical process of labor and delivery, this workshop helps couples have a clear understanding of how their lives will change during the first 12 weeks of their baby's life and how they can best plan and prepare as a couple for this transition.

Couples participating in this workshop have commented:

  • "the workshop did a great job of introducing some of the realities of the fourth trimester to us, and how my husband and I can take care of each other and our relationship during this time."
  • "such great information on things we haven't thought about being before, I'm so glad we signed up for this workshop!"

The Parent Connection, A Model to Follow

In 2017, The Parent Connection was invited by The Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to participate in a national project evaluating peer-to-peer programs.

The Parent Connection is one of 7 programs selected nationwide to participate in the development of a peer-to-peer support roadmap.

This is an opportunity to contribute to an evidenced base of research on delivering peer support to serve as a model in helping start other such programs for patients and families around a variety of health issues.

Learn more about Parent Connection programs here.

Or give us a call at 617-667-BABY (2229).

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.