During the first year of parenting, it can feel overwhelming for most. There are so many changes to anticipate… to your life as parents, your children’s lives, and shifts in relationships on top of taking care of a baby! This age and stage can be exciting and full of wonder, and it comes with many challenges. Thankfully, at Central Coast Childbirth Network, we’ve connected resources and support for you in San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara County in one convenient location. Visit centralcoastchildbirtbnetowork.com to learn more. This month we will discuss various providers, evidence-based support, and where to access care during the first year of parenting here on the Central Coast.
Let's explore various providers who support Early Childhood Zero to One Year.
Countless people specialize in this first year of parenting, including lactation consultants, parenting educators, pediatricians, home health nurses, childcare providers, doulas, medical providers, and mental health support for parents, to name a few. Some of the top priorities for support during the first year include education, pediatric visits, feeding, bonding, and childcare if needed. To see a list of various categories of professional support, visit CCCN Member Directory. Also, the Center for Disease Control has an interactive webpage with resources and articles to guide you through the milestones and health of your little one from 0 to 1.
One of the best ways to prepare for the first year is to attend a childbirth education class with a childbirth educator. You will not only learn about pregnancy and birth, but many courses offer baby basics, sibling, postpartum, and even lactation classes! Signing up for an infant safety class will also be a good idea. Parent Educators are another great resource to expand learning about bonding, attachment, milestones, safety, and sharing parenting challenges in the first year. Taking a class during pregnancy or before can increase your confidence and reduce fears by offering resources, support, and reassurance. Doulas are another excellent community resource to help prepare you for postpartum with emotional, mental, physical, and information support. Postpartum doulas can assist with basic newborn care and overnight support.
Generally, you will need to establish care with a local pediatrician before your little one arrives. According to Webmd.com A Pediatrician is a medical provider “who manages the physical, behavioral, and mental care for children from birth until age 18.”It is a good idea to call in advance to see if the Pediatrician is taking new patients. Ask other parents, friends, and Obstetricians/Midwives for recommendations. A pediatrician will assess your baby in the hospital and then again within three days with their Pediatrician after discharge. Healtychildren.org is a great resource to learn more check-ups, milestones, and more during the first year and beyond. On their website, you will find an American Academy of Pediatric Schedule of Well-Child Care visits. If you deliver at home, a midwife is involved in frequent postpartum and well newborn care and can also assist you in establishing collaborative care with a Pediatrician.
One of the greatest challenges during the first days of delivery is establishing feeding preferences. Whether you choose to breast/chest feed, formula/bottle feed, exclusively pump, or a combo of feeding preferences, many parents will need support and reassurance during this time. Read a guest blog post by CCCN Board of Director and local parent Susannah Brown who experienced many feeding challenges and support she received with her two children. You can also find another blog post, Breastfeeding 101, on the CCCN Blog that shares the benefits of Breast/chestfeeding, local/online resources, and support, including the CCCN Member Directory for lactation support. Providers who specialize in lactation/feeding support are International Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC), Certified Lactation Specialist (CLS), Certified Lactation Educator (CLC), and Peer Educators. Learn more about each of these providers here.
Lastly, many parents may seek childcare support during the first year as transitions to work/life begin. There are many local options for childcare support offered by in-home family childcare providers, child care centers, infant classrooms, or family, friend, and neighbor care.
Now that we've covered some important Early Child providers let's see where we can find them!
Today, there are various ways to access healthcare, support, and resources during the first year of parenting.
Parenting educators work in health care settings, private practices, community programs, schools, and social service agencies.
You can find doulas with a basic internet search, doula registries, or birth networks. Although many doulas work privately, they can also work in a volunteer/paid hospital program.
Pediatricians generally work in hospitals, community health centers, and private pediatric offices. Lactation consultants can work in hospitals, pediatrician offices, birthing centers, community health centers, or private practice.
Childcare providers can work privately in your home, daycares, preschools, or their private residence.
Most providers can also offer virtual services known as telehealth for convenience! On the Central Coast, our CCCN Member Directory lists Lactation Consultants, Parenting and Childbirth Educations, Doctors, Child Care providers, and more. Additional resources across the Central Coast include:
First 5 SLO and First 5 SB provides resources for lactation, childcare education, child development, groups for connecting parents, and many more. They seek to support families and all aspects of children 0-5’s development.
Pregnancy & Parenting Support Lompoc has resources for parenting classes and support classes in the Santa Ynez and Lompoc area.
CAPSLO connects you with baby classes, developmental screenings for your child, and child care.
Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition organizes many breast/chest feeding providers, classes, support groups, and resources in SLO county.
Nurse-Family Partnership is an incredible organization that assigns a nurse to first-time birthing parents for support, checkups, and help with jobs and housing throughout pregnancy, birth, and the first two years of parenting.
Adult School offers classes to improve parenting skills and bring your infant to connect with other parents and learn about their developmental stages. English as a second language is welcome! Get outdoors with Under the Trees, an inclusive support circle for pregnancy, postpartum and beyond.
WIC is an organization that serves families, babies, and children up to age 5 through health care referrals, nutritional resources and education, and chestfeeding support.
* Not an exhaustive list
You can find additional community resources for Parenting Education and Support and online resources on the CCCN Website. Join our upcoming Coffee Connection Tuesday June 14th, 2022 at 9AM in-person Children's Resource and Referral of Santa Barbara county. Zoom option available. Register and learn more at Centralcoastchildbirthnetwork.com.
These are only a few of the countless fantastic resources available to you in SLO and Northern Santa Barbara Counties; check out the links to learn more and seek support!
Let's look at some evidence around beneficial support!
There are many reasons having support during the first year of parenting is beneficial. Simply, we were not meant to care for children alone. Having additional expertise to support, encourage, educate and uplift parents is key to increasing parenting confidence and promoting healthy bonding between parent/caregiver and child.
“Parenting education improves parents’ sense of self-efficacy and competency, as well as parental satisfaction. It can also result in positive changes in parents’ attitudes about parenting as well as their self-esteem and feelings of self-mastery with regard to parenting” (Wilder Research).
Helathychildren.org describes the benefits of well-child visits to include prevention, tracking growth and development and establishing a relationship with the child’s care provider, generally a Pediatrician, to build a team approach and opportunity for caregivers to discuss any concerns.
Lactation consultants are “professional support as an evidence-based intervention that effectively increases the proportion of women who continue to breastfeed for up to six months” (Shealy et al., 2005).
In March, CCCN published a blog article, All About Doulas, which shares some of the benefits of doulas, including lower cesarean rates, shorter labors, and a decrease in the use of medications for pain management. Visit our blog to learn more at centralcoastchildbirthnetwork.com.
When might you need professional support? Are there any Barriers to accessing resources?
It is never too early to seek professional and community support and resources to prepare for parenting or becoming a caregiver. It is a great time to look for these providers when pregnant, after birth, and in the first year of parenting. You may also want to look for these providers for friends or family members who are expecting or have a child under a year old.
We recognize that finding and accessing these resources are more difficult for some people, whether it's challenges like transportation, cost, time, availability, work-life balance, COVID-19, or language barrier. Our online presence, CCCN Members, and community events bridge access to these resources. Check out our low-cost/ free local community resources page at Local Resources for baby classes, lactation support, bereavement, parenting education, and more. Parenting classes and support groups are offered virtually, which helps with time, transportation, and convenience. As discussed above, Adult School offers Spanish-speaking parenting groups. There are free options for parenting education/childcare, and insurance can sometimes cover the costs of lactation consultants, prepared childbirth classes, doula support, and other providers listed.
Overall, we understand that the first year of parenting can be scary, new, challenging, exciting, and different for everyone! You will continue to learn and grow along the way. You are not alone. Many professional and community resources on the Central Coast can help you and your family thrive. We've gathered resources and support from Preconception through the first year of parenting on our website, online directory, blog, community events, community calendar, newsletters, and more! Please reach out to us at centralcoastchildbirthnetwork.com and follow our Instagram @centralcoastchildbirthnetwork for more tips, support, and information this month! You've got this, and we want you to feel as equipped and capable as possible during the first year of parenting and beyond.
Authored in collaboration with:
Alana Krull, CCCN Intern
Zabrina Cox, CtP Program Director
Shealy, Katherine & Li, Ruowei & Benton-Davis, Sandra & Grummer-Strawn, Laurence. (2005).
The CDC Guide to Breastfeeding Interventions.
Disclaimer: The opinions or beliefs expressed by various authors on this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs, and viewpoints of Central Coast Childbirth Network, INC. Central Coast Childbirth Network, INC does not offer medical advice. The content on this blog is for informational purposes only. The author's opinions are based upon information they consider reliable; thus, Central Coast Childbirth Network warrants its completeness or accuracy and should not be relied upon as such.
CCCN Does not give medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and treatment plan. If you are experiencing an emergency, please did 9-1-1.