Nashville Community Center Prepares Expectant Parents

The Salvation Army Magness Potter Community Center in Nashville, Tennessee, is helping parents and parents-to-be know what to expect as their children grow.

So far the center has run three six-week sessions of a class called Baby Bumps. According to James Smith, director of emergency services, said that since the center is a family resource center, they benefitted from a grant that helps fund the course. “The Magness Potter Community Center is a true community center. We are attempting to meet any and every need of the community. We want to be there in all avenues of life from infancy to elderly; we want to offer something to everyone,” he said.

Tonya Elkins, from the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, administers the class. Topics include birthing plans and breastfeeding, whether to choose a natural birth or C-section, pregnancy and post-pregnancy exercise and parenting tips. Elkins said that Vanderbilt’s group model helps mothers most by giving them relationship-building opportunities with other moms who can understand what they are going through.

“We do activities, so hopefully they are learning and preparing for things,” she said, “but part of that is interacting with each other and forming social ties among the group so there’s a lot of social support.”

She said participants are both first-time and experienced parents, but they tend to lean towards being first-timers and range in age from 20 to 40. One of the recent topics was having a healthy pregnancy – learning things to eat and what to avoid, goal-setting and exercises that are safe.

One of the moms learned more about what to expect during childbirth through one of the videos shown in class. “She was crying and so scared after we finished; it was her first baby and she said she felt better prepared for what was going to happen. She got her mom involved and brought her to group with her after that… we know from research that you can manage pain better when you are prepared for what’s going to happen. I hope it made her more confident,” she said.

Elkins and Smith have been able to keep in touch with the mom, too. Elkins said she called her and sent her photos of the baby, and Smith said he often sees the baby at a daycare located in the building.

The class’s main purpose is to help expecting and new parents understand that they are not alone. “It’s sometimes hard to ask for help,” said Elkins, “so I think it’s important to create a supportive environment where people can process what they’re going through.”