It Takes a Valley childbirth series: Growth of post-partum resources
Special to the Daily
Resources for Vail Valley Moms
Vail Valley Medical Center
Vail Valley Medical Center offers a variety of classes aimed at different stages of pregnancy, and providing further assistance after the birth. For a full listing, check out their website at vvmc.com/medical-services/childbirth/classes.
The year-and-a-half-old site looks to put Vail areas moms in touch with a range of resources, from kids activities to regional health care providers. Additionally, the site offers tips and advice to new or expectant mothers, and it also offers a calendar of events full of family happenings in the area.
Groups such as “Vail Moms” have become a popular forum for local mothers and families to ask for and offer advice, support and encouragement.
Catholic Charities’ new project in Eagle offers emotional and spiritual family support along with material assistance to new families in the form of things like diapers and wipes. The facility is donation and volunteer based, and can be reached at 970-384-2060.
Mind Springs Health
The mental health facility has several regional locations and can be helpful in dealing with postpartum depression. More information can be found at their website, mindspringshealth.org.
Editor’s note: This is the third part of a three-part series about the evolution of childbirth and related resources in the Vail Valley.
Much has changed in the local childbirth process since the lifts started spinning in the Vail Valley in the 1960s, particularly with a maternity ward opening in Vail Valley Medical Center in 1980 and, with it, improved access to health care and doctors.
Care for new mothers and their children has undergone a dramatic transformation, as well, with comprehensive antepartum care in the form of specialists, classes and many different outside resources at a new mother’s disposal. And while many of those changes have helped bring countless babies into the valley, there are undoubtedly many changes Eagle County has yet to go through to welcome even more residents into the world.
Access to specialists
One of the most pronounced changes in immediate care for the new mother and child is the availability of specialists to help with some of the finer details of motherhood.
Kathleen Young, RN, a board-certified lactation consultant at the Vail Valley Medical Center, said although the hospital staff strongly encourages women to attend the prenatal classes, antepartum breastfeeding classes are also available, along with inpatient and outpatient support for feeding newborns.
“Lactation services are provided both inpatient and outpatient for support and education regarding feeding a newborn and in order to assist with any challenges that may arise during this transition,” she said. “We provide a Baby and Me group, which is a free service offered through Vail Valley Medical Center, as additional support for mothers with newborns and infants. A lactation consultant is always at the group to assist with any questions that these new mothers may have.”
The hospital also offers a breast pump rental program, with hospital-grade pumps for mothers who depend on them to feed their baby. Doulas have also had a presence in both the birthing process and antepartum care, with hospital staff working closely with the caregivers, who often are written into a woman’s birthing plan.
While hospital programs have expanded greatly since the earlier days of the Vail Valley to facilitate more health-care options, provide more specialists and offer different birthing plans, resources outside the hospital setting have also grown.
The rise of social media has created several Facebook groups for Vail mothers, which provide a forum for parents to exchange home remedies for diaper rashes, outgrown cribs, babysitting opportunities and support to others mothers, among other things.
A growing population of young families has also brought more established resources to the area. Catholic Charities will be opening a new facility, Gabriel House, in Eagle County in late spring. The donation- and volunteer-based facility will be open two days a week for several hours each day and will offer emotional and spiritual support to new or expectant parents. Additionally, the facility will provide physical support in the form of diapers, wipes, bottles and any other donations suitable for distribution to new families.
Catholic Charities organizers involved with the new Gabriel House project hope that along with the facility being a place for new parents to receive physical supplies for their little ones, the center also helps new moms and dads connect with each other.
Room to grow
Although the entirety of the birthing process in the Vail Valley has transformed throughout the years, many mothers still see certain areas with room to expand. One constant through different generations in this regard is the accessibility of reaching out to other mothers for different forms of support.
Carol McGee, who had her children throughout the 1980s in the Vail Valley, said at the time, few others were having children in the area, which led to fewer opportunities to link up with other moms.
“I did not have many resources for support, as there were so few of our friends having kids in Vail at that time; we had to figure out everything for ourselves,” McGee said. “Child-care resources were few, there were not many resources for infants in the early ’80s in Vail — it was very difficult at that time to have two working parents. The biggest change is that there are so many families having kids in the Vail Valley now versus the ’80s.”
And while McGee found the limited resources of the time challenging, other mothers commented that some of that feeling still resonates today. McGee’s daughter, Megan Bonta, had both of her children within the past five years in the Vail Valley, and said having her family as a support network has been a crucial area resource.
“I am so fortunate to have both my parents and my husband’s family here as a support system, though I know so many of my friends and the families I work with don’t have those same resources, as so many families relocate here,” she said, “Even with family and friends here, being a new mom is tough and can be isolating. It’s still challenging as a working mom balancing my kid’s schedules, work and my own needs.”
Marisa Selvy had her first child, a daughter, at Vail Valley Medical Center in September, and said the sometimes-isolating quality of new motherhood was one that she struggled with, specifically dealing with postpartum depression after the birth.
“I was lucky to meet another mom with a baby five days younger than mine who was also going through postpartum depression, and we would get together every few weeks; we both talked about how we were fortunate to find each other because there were no other resources for postpartum depression mom groups,” she said, “I went to Mind Springs Health to talk to a therapist about the depression, but it isn’t the same as talking to another mom who is literally going through it at the same time as I was.”
Although Selvy said many of the classes through Vail Valley Medical Center were helpful in preparing for pregnancy, the birth and antepartum care, she said many of the classes that worked with her schedule were infrequently attended by other expectant mothers, which made finding other women going through the same thing difficult.
Selvy said believes there is room for improvement similar to the many other services and resources that have expanded over the years.
“I wish there was some sort of ‘Pregnancy Club’ that women at all stages of pregnancy could join that met once a week (with food involved, obviously) and pregnant women could chat candidly about what they were feeling (both physically, mentally and emotionally) and get some tips from each other,” she said,
“I wasn’t able to find anything like this in the Vail Valley, but I know a ton of them exist in Denver. I think lack of organization is why we don’t have a group like that in Eagle County. There are definitely enough pregnant women in the population at any given time, it’s just the spearheading of the club that hasn’t been done.”
Oftentimes, mothers’ desires to expand resources in the area have proved successful in creating more services in an area that has welcomed new families and given them room to grow throughout the years, and a Pregnancy Club may just be the next stage of this development.
But it seems to be the pattern in the Vail Valley that with the growth of countless families, the resources around those families grows to create a fostering environment, from the humble beginnings of two-hour drives to the nearest hospital to when the time came to deliver the newest Eagle County residents.
It seems to be the reason countless new parents keep coming to the area to have children because time and time again they have realized that from start to finish, it takes a valley to raise a child.
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