MISSOULA - Many parents remember those first terrifying days after bringing home their new baby.
The joke has always been that babies don’t come with an instruction manual. But now, in a way, the manual can come to the baby.
“I don’t think I am understating when I say it changed our lives for the better.,” mom Jenna Griffin said.
Jenna is talking about the help she got from a program called Welcome Home Baby, a Missoula City-County Health Department program that offers free, in-home visits from a nurse. The program isn’t just for first-time moms, but for any family with a new baby who could use a little guidance, support, and reassurance.
“We see everybody. Across the board, and we are not just for first-time parents,” explained nurse Carrie Dillon. “They are more likely to engage with us, but every new family member brings different challenges to families, and they all have different abilities with feeding or sleeping or developmental progress so those are all things we can help families adjust to.”
Most moms learn about the program before they leave the hospital after giving birth as Welcome Home Baby works with both Community Medical Center and Saint Patrick Hospital.
Dillon, who is a nurse, lactation specialist and certified perinatal mental health, was there as little Otis and his family were getting into their new routine.
“Carrie, who was our lactation consultant, was able to come into our house...when Otis was very small. He was very little. And underweight and we had with breastfeeding,” Jenna recalled. “Carrie would come into our house and that was one less appointment we had to go to so that was really helpful at that early time.”
The extra help allowed Jenna and Michael to be successful with breastfeeding and to focus on their own health, Otis, and the challenges of being brand-new parents.
"So much of what I do winds up being reassurance. For families where things are going well and they still have us come out, they still find a lot of value in the service with the information, the community resources, getting that extra weight check, providing reassurance even when they feel like things are going well,” noted Dillon.
“Having her come into the home and didn’t have to clean up, I could exist in my own environment which is powerful,” Jenna told MTN News “I would recommend new moms engage in this you never know what’s going to be helpful...the most powerful thing to help you on your breastfeeding or care journey.”
Click here to learn more about the Welcome Home Baby program or contact the Missoula City-County Health Department at 406-258-4298.