Madi Nolan-Grimes, clinical director of The Juneau Family Health and Birth Center, weighs newborn Johannes Ulyess Burnett during an in-home visit with new parents Lynn and Chad Burnett. The Juneau Family Health and Birth Center recently received a grant that funds a new program that will extend postpartum support to more mothers and their families.

Madi Nolan-Grimes, clinical director of The Juneau Family Health and Birth Center, weighs newborn Johannes Ulyess Burnett during an in-home visit with new parents Lynn and Chad Burnett. The Juneau Family Health and Birth Center recently received a grant that funds a new program that will extend postpartum support to more mothers and their families.

More support for more moms

“How’s his eating been?” asked Madi Nolan-Grimes, the clinical director of The Juneau Family Health and Birth Center.

“He’s a snacker, he doesn’t eat for very long,” replied new mom Lynn Burnett. Her husband Chad chimed in, “He’s definitely a five- to ten-minuter and then he goes to sleep, and we wake him up or he is just done. Is that normal?”

It’s common for new parents to ask questions like this, especially after birthing their first baby. Lynn and Chad brought baby Johannes Ulyess Burnett into the world on Jan. 16 weighing seven pounds.

The Juneau Family Health and Birth Center is offering a new program that will extend postpartum support to more mothers and their families. The program will provide support during the first 6 weeks after birth when parents do not typically receive professional support.

“Midwives and doulas generally provide some form of in-home support in the first week after a baby has been born, but families who are not working with a midwife or doula may miss out on this support,” Grimes said.

Grimes said the center recently received funding for the program, $5,000 from the 2015 Community Based Child Abuse Prevention Mini-Grants provided by the Alaska Children’s Trust.

“We will focus on early referral for women and families, particularly those with risk factors such as teen pregnancy, single parents, unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, poor coping mechanisms, low socioeconomic status or postpartum mood disorders,” she said.

The birth center seeks to decrease childhood maltreatment and increase positive parenting outcomes by serving up to six in-home visits to families who qualify for the new postpartum program.

Grimes pointed out that the program is different then the services offered by a midwife. The doula will be hired directly by the client, rather than the birth center, and will not be giving medical advice or taking things like measurements and weight. Rather, the doulas will offer education on healthy parenting, breastfeeding and helping navigate new parents through the first several weeks.

Grimes said that parents are also encouraged to attend local parenting support groups, “further increasing their education, presence in the parenting community and normalizing early experiences with a new baby.”

During the first year of life, a child’s brain doubles in size and is building neural pathways. Those pathways lay the foundation for sensory, nutritional and behavioral traits for the rest of a person’s life.

According to research done by James W. Prescott in 1975, cultures where mothers carried their babies during the first year of infancy were more peaceful. Prescott’s research presented the idea that there is a sensitive time in infant brain development where touch and movement help protect against depression and violence. More recent research suggests that early brain functions and development shape the brain to be best suited for its environment. For example, a traumatic or hostile environment promotes a brain filled with caution and defense.

With this in mind, JFHBC seeks to promote loving environments for babies and mothers through providing extra support during the transition into motherhood.

“We have been so grateful for Madi’s support during this time,” Lynn Burnett said. “It is so great that if we have a question we can turn to Madi for assistance, rather then ‘Googling’ how to help our baby. We couldn’t have done it without the birth centers support.”

Grimes said the birth center seeks to “bridge the gap that is often left for new parents in between their birth and six week visit provided to many new moms and dads.”

Sarah Schaal, a local mother of four, recently had a baby at home and two of her children were born at the birth center. She had this to say when finding out about the new postpartum program.

“I am so excited to hear that they will be extending out their postpartum visits to other mothers. In the traditional model of care, the mother seems to be pushed aside once baby is born and told to come back in six weeks. Those first few weeks after having a baby are crazy hard, the mother is going through a lot of emotional and physical changes, and without support this can be even more overwhelming than it needs to be.”

Schaal went on to say, “In the midwifery care model, those postpartum weekly visits not only ensure that the baby is thriving, but also provides support and care to the mother that the mother doesn’t typically get otherwise.”

The Juneau Family Health and Birth Center is a nonprofit that was started in 1996 to offer midwifery care and out of hospital birth to women in Southeast Alaska. The business now offers a naturopathic doctor, massage therapy, and structural integration in addition to their birthing services and community classes.

For more information about the Juneau Family Health and Birth Center postpartum program and other services offered, call (907) 586-1203.

Madi Nolan-Grimes, clinical director of The Juneau Family Health and Birth Center, speaks to parents Lynn and Chad Burnett during an in-home visit with their newborn, Johannes Ulyess Burnett, last month.

Madi Nolan-Grimes, clinical director of The Juneau Family Health and Birth Center, speaks to parents Lynn and Chad Burnett during an in-home visit with their newborn, Johannes Ulyess Burnett, last month.

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