A booming time for babies
EAGLE COUNTY – At 9 months old, Julian Farrar can do a backbend and a handstand. He has been doing yoga since he was born. Literally.His mother, Nicola Farrar, teaches pre- and post-natal yoga at Synergy in Avon on Wednesday mornings. Pregnant women and new mothers use the class for a social hour and a workout, Farrar said.The women also use their babies’ weight in the yoga class – lifting their babies and putting them on their laps during certain stretches and exercises. At other times, the mothers keep their babies on blankets next to their mats. Farrar walks around the room, correcting her students’ postures and sometimes calming cranky babies. If a baby needs to be changed or fed, there’s no need to even leave the room, Farrar said.Allana Smith skipped only three weeks of Farrar’s class after she gave birth to her son, Matthew. When Smith was six months pregnant, she switched from an aerobic yoga class to Farrar’s class for a less intense workout, she said. Now she and Matthew never miss a class, which Smith said is great for working moms.”No matter what, I go each and every week, and I spend an hour with him,” Smith said. “If it seems he wants to be held, that won’t get in the way of the exercise or the class.”The last five minutes of Farrar’s classes are dedicated to baby yoga, in which mothers have their babies engage in a number of stretches, including baby backbends and assisted headstands, Farrar said.”It’s great to help them sleep, great for their digestive systems, mind-body coordination and movement,” Farrar said.
Farrar started teaching the class when she was pregnant with Julian. Most of her students were also pregnant at the time, and they all had their babies within a few months, she said. Farrar said the group of women have grown close. They have met up outside of class for hikes and lunches and frequently see one another at Avon Public Library’s Baby Story Time, which is right after Farrar’s class.Synergy plans to add a weekend mother/child yoga class, Farrar said.Help for new parentsWhen Nurse Carol Conger was recruited by Colorado Mountain Medical in Edwards 12 years ago, about 300 babies were born in Vail each year, she said. The number has steadily increased, and in 2005, 688 babies were born in Vail. Conger, a leader in the parenting community in Vail, teaches a Prepared Childbirth class that focuses on breathing techniques, medications and “life after labor,” she said. The class costs $75 per couple and is held every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Conger also conducts a free class for new parents at the Shaw Pavilion Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m. “It’s usually pretty dramatic. Before giving birth, it’s, ‘Will I survive?’ After, it’s, ‘Will it get better?” Conger said.
The Eagle County Health Service District in Edwards also provides services to put new parents at ease. Car-seat experts correct and train parents so their car seats are tight enough and properly placed. This free service is available at the Eagle County Ambulance District headquarters in Edwards from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month. Ninety-eight percent of car seats in Colorado are not installed correctly, said Cathy McRory of the Eagle County Health Service District.”Some parents have ‘creative’ ways of doing things,” McRory said.Baby networkWhen Gail Schwartz of Homestead was pregnant, she didn’t need to seek out resources because a lot of her friends were pregnant too, she said.”They became a support group for me,” Schwartz said. “I think that pregnant women and new mothers benefit from speaking to other pregnant women and new mothers – that’s the best resource. You can learn from each other.”With more families in the Vail area, many new moms said they want a “baby jamboree” or a full-time play facility to encourage sharing and interaction with other babies. These kinds of resources would also encourage new parents to meet, building stronger supports in the Vail area, they said.”The one challenge that new moms have here is that they don’t have the support of their families here,” Schwartz said. “Most grandparents aren’t living here, so our friends have that role. I lean on my friends as you would lean on family.”
Now that Schwartz has 4-month-old Jack, she participates in Farrar’s and Conger’s post-natal classes. She plans on introducing her friends from the classes to her other friends.”If a woman is a little more hesitant and it’s not easy for her to network, a third party might be good so she doesn’t feel alone,” Schwartz said.Farrar was disappointed with the small number of opportunities in Vail for new parents.”This is a booming time for babies in Vail,” Farrar said. “As a community, we should embrace our new families and offer them support.”Nikki Katz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado