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ETMC Athens offers medley of childbirth, childcare classes

Rhonda Hardin is passionate about helping people care for children - whether that be before or after a child's birth. Hardin, an OB and breastfeeding educator at ETMC Athens, wants to get the word out about a laundry list of classes for parents, grandparents and even siblings being offered at the hospital.

"We offer five classes now," said Hardin, RN. "We want to reach as many people as possible in our community to do the most good."

The two newest classes are Grandparenting Today and Super Siblings.

Grandparenting Today is a two-hour class that covers information on newborns and toddlers. It's offered as needed on a quarterly basis. Some of the topics include infant feeding; safety at home and in the car; and the benefits of breastfeeding, so that grandparents can support their children who are planning to breastfeed.

There is no fee for the class, but telephone registration is required.

Super Siblings is aimed at big brothers and sisters from two to six years old.

With the age of prospective "students" in mind, the one-time class experience is child-friendly, with arts-and-crafts activities and refreshments served.

Some of the topics include:

What to expect when Mommy's expecting;
What the new baby will look like;
How and when to hold a baby;
How to help Mom and Dad; and big brother/big sister safety.
There is no fee for the class, but telephone registration is required.

"We had the first class in August, and there will be another one in November," said Hardin. Like the grandparenting class, Super Siblings is offered quarterly. "It's a great class for young children to attend with Mom and Dad, if they'd like."

The other classes being offered are:

Pregnancy 101: Designed for pregnant women in their first trimesters. This one-time class, offered the first Monday of every month, lasts two hours and covers good nutrition practices, importance of pre-natal visits, information on cord blood banking and breastfeeding. The free class requires telephone registration.
Childbirth Education: This class is offered free to ETMC Athens patients as a five-week series to be taken at any time during pregnancy. The class covers general pregnancy, labor and delivery information. No registration is required. Mothers not delivering at the hospital may also take the class, for a $75 fee.
Milk From Moms: This breastfeeding class/support group covers a variety of breastfeeding information along with open discussion on breastfeeding issues, such as the benefits of breastfeeding, how to breastfeed, feeding cues, how to know if baby is getting enough, when to add complementary foods, and problem-solving issues with breastfeeding. The free class requires telephone registration. "It seems like more and more women are interested in breastfeeding," Hardin said, "but many give up after the first two weeks.
She attributes that trend to "a lack of knowledge about breastfeeding and what to expect, and a lack of support, particularly among family members.
She hopes that as the participation in breastfeeding education classes increase, the success rate will also improve. For more information on these classes, call the ETMC Athens OB department at 903-676-2116.
For telephone registration, call Hardin at 903-729-5812 or 903-724-2741.

ETMC Athens also offers free prenatal care for expecting mothers who cannot afford medical care, but whose incomes are too high for Medicaid assistance, and for women who do not qualify for Medicaid because they are not U.S. citizens. The clinic is open Mondays and Fridays.

To make an appointment or for more information, call Marie Taylor on Monday or Friday at 903-676-5480. Or call Judy Carlisle Monday through Friday at 903-676-1111.