Any parent is likely to tell you that preparing to become a mother or father can be terrifying. There are many resources to help parents gain the skills they need to care for their new child. But a program known as “Boot Camp for New Dads” at Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital in Yakima offers a unique perspective, helping men get the skills they need to become fathers, as taught by fathers.
The two-hour program runs every other month and covers basics like swaddling. But it also teaches new dads how to be supportive to new moms in the months after the birth, how to work as a team, and how to help build the new – and healthy – family dynamic. The program got its start in 2003 after Virginia Mason Memorial discovered that local fathers were looking for additional parenting resources geared just for them.
At the boot camp, new fathers learn from “veteran dads” who have already gone through the program and wanted to return to share their experiences. Often the veteran dad will bring his own infant to the class. Community Wellness, Childbirth Education Coordinator Teresa Posada says sometimes the men are a bit nervous at first, but after settling in they find the guys-only time very helpful. Out of 10 men taking the class, Teresa says usually nine or all 10 of them will express interest in returning as a veteran dad.
“It’s just such a neat curriculum for these guys,” Teresa says. “When they’re in a group of other men, they just kind of relax and they feel free to ask their questions.”
The class is $30 individually, or can be included as part of Virginia Mason Memorial’s three-class Childbirth Preparation package. Click here to learn more about the hospital’s pregnancy and childbirth classes. (Tim Pfarr)