Pa. mentors help new moms

January 22, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Since newborn babies don't come with instructions, Waynesboro Hospital offers new mothers the next best thing.

Well into its fourth year, the hospital's Moms Helping Moms mentoring program has successfully matched several new mothers with experienced ones to help with the changes a new baby makes in their lives. There are more than 20 new mothers in the free program who are paired up with mentors who act as coaches providing personal support, general information about available community resources, or a listening ear.

"Our primary goal is to help new families have a healthy beginning," said Patti Davis, program coordinator.

Qualifications to be a mentor are simple, the most important being experience. It also helps to have good listening skills, understanding of others, ability to maintain a confidential relationship and enough time to allow for periodic phone calls and visits with a new mom, Davis said. Grandmothers are encouraged to volunteer.


"I'm a mother of three, a grandmother of six and a former teacher who misses being around young people and babies," said Jackie Barlup, one of the program's first mentors who is still active. "I just want to make a difference. Anyone who recalls their first delivery knows they need all the help they can get."

The hospital provides a two-part, six-hour training course for mentors to update them on community resources and child development information. It also gives mentors a chance to refresh their memories, Davis said.

"We can't give medical advice. Mentors don't take the place of a medical doctor. We're there to encourage and empower each new mom as they learn to develop their coping skills," Davis said.

Pam Jones of Waynesboro, who gave birth to her third child on Monday, is the program's newest mentor. She said she joined because she remembers having all kinds of questions when she became a new mother.

"I didn't even know if I was holding him right," Jones said. "I was so afraid I'd hurt him."

Now, with some experience under her belt, she said she wants to help new moms. Her first advice to them is "don't panic."

The program is offered to new mothers for up to six months but can continue longer if they feel the need, Davis said. The goal of the program is to match mentors with mothers-to-be. That way they can develop a relationship before the baby is born, Davis said.

"Mentoring is a relationship built on trust," Davis said. "Some of the relationships will never end," she said, adding that the program isn't meant to take the place of families, but to support them.

Pregnant women or experienced moms who want to become involved in the program can call 1-717-765-4000, extension 205.

The Herald-Mail Articles