Includes a variety of resources of interest to
parents in eastern and central Massachusetts, especially the "Metro
This Guide was begun in July 2001, and has been overhauled periodically since (most recently in January 2011). Any corrections are welcome!
Run by the Boston Association for Childbirth Education, the Nursing Mothers' Council (based in Newton) provides free, 24-hour-a-day breastfeeding counseling by phone. Some counselors make home visits for a small charge. Members of the NMC also rent or sell breast pumps.
La Leche League (LLL) is the original mother-to-mother support organization for nursing moms. Groups meet in a number of Metro West towns; call one of the leaders listed on the Web site to learn more about your local group, or get individual counseling by phone.
Breastfeeding USA is a new organization formed by a number of LLL leaders; its mission is "to provide evidence-based breastfeeding information and support, and to promote breastfeeding as the biological and cultural norm." Like LLL, they have a network of accredited breastfeeding counselors, and will soon have local support chapters as well.
The mission of the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition is to make "breastfeeding the norm through education, advocacy, and collaboration." They have a variety of information for parents, including pointers to milk banks; they're one of the online providers of the 2006 growth charts for breastfed children. MassBFC also offers the wonderful service ZipMilk, which locates lactation consultants, NMC and LLL advisors, doctors, support groups, and other breastfeeding resources local to you.
For detailed breastfeeding help online (including beginning breastfeeding, handling problems, combining nursing with working, and more), see La Leche League International's Breastfeeding Help site. Breastfeeding Online has some excellent articles by Dr. Jack Newman. And KellyMom has a terrific breastfeeding section, including guides to "Herbs and Breastfeeding" and "Is This Safe When Breastfeeding?"
Local IBCLC Debbie Page offers breastfeeding Webinars each week (times alternate between afternoon and evening).
Medela's "Breastfeeding U.S." provides information on Medela products (breast pumps, nursing bras, and other supplies) for purchase or rental in our area; it also provides online support from a board-certified lactation consultant.
Breastfeeding.com has a directory listing many of the lactation consultants in Massachusetts.
Should you find yourself either with extra milk to donate, or in need of milk for your baby:
For nursing clothing, see "Shopping: nursing clothes" on this resource list.
Getting Started with Babywearing, a site recommended by La Leche League, teaches new parents how to get started with their preferred type of carrier; it emphasizes safety.
Boston Babywearers meets at least monthly, in Cambridge and Watertown (both weekend and weekday meetings are available); the group "can help you find a carrier that's right for you and then — just as important — we can teach you how to use it." They have a lending library of slings and carriers available for trial use. The group also has a very helpful list of further babywearing resources.
The Cloth Diaper Foundation is a nonprofit which helps low-income families "get a jump start on cloth diapering. ... As a supplementary program, it is not our wish to be a family's sole source for cloth diapers; rather, we assist families while they build their own supply of diapers. We accept donations given by caring individuals and redistribute them to families in need."
If you'd prefer to do without diapers altogether and learn Elimination Communication, DiaperFreeBaby lists local support groups.
The International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) says that "given sincere emotional support, real education, and an honest opportunity, 90-95% of women can deliver vaginally, joyfully, as nature intended." ICAN offers information for parents trying to avoid a first Caesarean, support groups for mothers who underwent surgical birth and regret the experience, and support for women planning VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean).
The Gentlebirth Archives on ICAN, VBAC and Caesarean contain pointers to dozens of resources.
Childbirth.org has ICAN fact sheets and VBAC information.
Yahoo!Groups offers mailing lists for support following Caesarean section and birth trauma.
BabyCenter has a useful page on PPD, and the Gentlebirth Archives have a variety of information on postpartum depression and birth trauma.
Jewish Family & Children's Service is a nonprofit, non-sectarian social service agency serving Greater Boston. "This isn't what I expected" is a free weekly support group (in Waltham) for women with postpartum adjustment challenges, including PPD; babies are welcome. Through its "Early Connections" program, JFCS also provides clinical home visits (sliding scale fee) for women with PPD or "attachment disruptions."
Postpartum Support International (formerly Depression After Delivery), run by volunteers, is "dedicated to helping women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression"; they also work "to educate family, friends and healthcare providers so that moms and moms-to-be can get the support they need and recover." PSI's Massachusetts resource guide lists a warmline (866-472-1897), support coordinators, support groups, and emergency numbers.
Early Intervention (EI) is a state-provided service to families of kids under three who have, or are at risk for, developmental disabilities. Services may consist of home visits, playgroups, parent support groups, and visits to certain providers; they are often coordinated by community EI programs. (Minuteman EI in Concord, for example, serves children in Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Carlisle, Concord, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, and Stow. Speech therapists from Minuteman made home visits to one of our children — at no cost — for a year.) For more information about EI, talk to your pediatrician.
Family TIES of Massachusetts provides "parent-to-parent support, information and referral services, and workshops to ensure that parents feel confident in caring for your children with special needs." They offer an online directory of resources for Massachusetts families with special-needs kids.
Down Syndrome: for New Parents is a thorough site with questions and answers, lists of recommended books, personal stories/music/poetry, introductory information for relatives outside the immediate family, discussion forums, and more. It also has further pointers to online resources.
The blog "Noah's Dad" includes a new parent guide, a collection of top resources, and suggestions on "What to Say to Someone Who Has Received A Down Syndrome Diagnosis."
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) maintains a nationwide toll-free number to a professionally staffed information and referral service (in 150 languages!). NDSS provides general information on Down syndrome, referral to parent support groups, and pointers to other local and national resources.
The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress lists over two dozen local support groups in Massachusetts.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a wonderful group of volunteer photographers who, in case of stillbirth or loss shortly after birth, will come take portraits of your baby and family. Families who use this service usually find the portraits extremely valuable in their healing journeys.
Massachusetts was one of the first states to pass a "Missing Angels" bill and offer a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth; if you would like one for your baby, ask that this be filed within the first ten days, if possible.
Perinatal hospice offers comfort care to babies not expected to live; it is currently available in some hospitals and regions of Massachusetts.
NICU Parent Support provides parent-to-parent telephone support to parents with an infant in neonatal intensive care.
In the Greater Boston area, the Jewish Family & Children's Service (JFCS)'s Center for Early Relationship Support, a non-sectarian service, provides support groups for pregnancy loss and neonatal death.
The Compassionate Friends is a "non-profit, nonsectarian, mutual assistance, self-help organization offering friendship and understanding to bereaved parents and siblings." No dues or fees are required. The chapter locator lists over a dozen local chapters in Massachusetts.
Share (Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support) serves families who lose babies to miscarriage, stillbirth, or newborn death. ("All information packets, correspondence, and support is free of charge for bereaved parents.") At present, though, the only local support in Massachusetts is in Northampton.
Child Care Resource Center is a "private, non-profit, child care resource and referral agency dedicated to making quality child care accessible to every family that needs it"; it provides services to dozens of towns in the Metro West area.
Concord-based Child Care Search is another local referral agency (this one I've used myself).
Child Care Aware (a service of the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies) is a nonprofit with the mission "to ensure that every parent has access to good information about finding quality child care and resources in their community." The information and tools (including a child care finder for agencies near your town) are quite helpful.
CareGuide.com — Child Care Search provides planning tools, informative features, and a search for care providers by region (e.g., Boston area) or town (you can choose up to ten).
The National Network for Child Care is (in part) a service of the Cooperative Extension network of county services around the US; the site offers "over 1000 publications and resources related to child care [which] are research-based and reviewed."
My own experience is with four providers: a babysitting agency, an au pair agency, and two preschool-type childcare centers. I found the babysitting agency all right for temporary care for work-at-home parents, but wasn't comfortable enough with their sitters to leave my child alone with one, and found the cost prohibitive for more than occasional care. The au pair agency was a good option for us as work-at-home parents, and our au pair worked well for our family during our firstborn's second year. We had the most success with two preschool centers, which both our children attended and I can recommend without hesitation: the Carlisle Children's Center (since closed), and the Carlisle Kids House.
If you are single and the father of your baby is absent, you may find it helpful to read up on Massachusetts Law about Paternity. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue's Child Support Enforcement also provides resources on paternity law for unmarried parents.
The Massachusetts Family Network is a state-run program offering education and support to families in cities and towns all over Massachusetts. To learn about MFN sites near you, consult their search page.
One of the many MFN programs, First Connections in Concord, serves a number of Metro West communities; it covers Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Stow, Sudbury, Westford, and Hanscom Air Force Base. This nonprofit community service agency (a part of Concord Family and Youth Services) offers an impressive number of programs, classes, social events, and services for families of children 3 and under (I've attended several of their classes and get-togethers myself). Support groups include those for first-time mothers (moms outside the covered area may attend for a small fee); mothers with postpartum depression; single moms of young children; "40-something" moms; and moms under 25. Classes include everything from infant/child CPR to baby sign language to preparing for preschool. The Parent to Parent program provides home visits to new parents who may be feeling overwhelmed or isolated as they adjust to a new baby. First Connections also has a lending library of books and videos.
Emerson Hospital in Concord offers a variety of health-related lectures and classes of possible interest to new families, including "Exercise for a healthier pregnancy." Emerson's Tender Beginnings program also offers courses in prenatal care, infant care, breastfeeding, infant/child CPR, and more.
Families First is a nonprofit program offering parenting education workshops (fee assistance is available) on a variety of issues, including infant development; locations include Boston, Burlington, Cambridge, Lexington, Lowell and West Newton. Families First also provides private consultations with a parenting education specialist to address specific childrearing concerns.
Parents Helping Parents (formerly Parents Anonymous of Massachusetts) is a nonprofit network of groups which help parents learn positive parenting methods, nurture themselves and strengthen their relationships with their children; they provide mutual support for parents who are isolated, overwhelmed, or under stress. Groups meet weekly, with a professional facilitator, throughout the state; locations include Arlington (for fathers), Boston, Brighton, Burlington, Lawrence, Lowell, Waltham, and Watertown. Meetings are free and confidential.
The Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC)'s "GoodStart / Healthy Families" program assists young parents as they adjust to parenthood during the critical period of early infancy, so that children will be "safe, healthy and ready to learn." Services include parenting education, parent support groups, father support groups, child development instruction, playgroups for infants and toddlers, an "Operating Instructions" booklet for newborns, nutrition counseling, home visiting, 24-hour crisis lines, and connections to community services.
WarmLines (also known as the Freedman Center at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology) is a nonprofit center connecting parents to each other and to resources they need; it offers a telephone information and referral line, new moms' groups, "matching moms," parents' guides, a newsletter, and child-care research/referral (in Allston, Belmont, Brighton, Brookline, Newton, Watertown, Wellesley, Waltham, or Weston). Other offerings include drop-in playgroups, and classes in infant massage, music, and infant/child CPR. Some services are fee-based, but scholarships are available. The Web site includes a section on "Tips for Parents."
Jewish Family & Children's Service is a nonprofit, non-sectarian social service agency based in Waltham. JFCS's Visiting Moms Program offers free home visits by trained volunteers to pregnant women or new mothers in Boston and the near suburbs; Spanish-speaking Visiting Moms are available. Other services include pregnancy support groups; weekly drop-in parent support groups, including evening groups for dads; and breastfeeding groups, with lactation consultants. JFCS programs also include workshops throughout the year (in Newton, Cambridge, and elsewhere) on raising children in an interfaith family (holidays, lifecycle issues, etc.), support groups and counseling on interfaith issues.Jewish Family Service / Metro West (in Framingham) is a nonprofit, nonsectarian agency. "Mom-to-Mom" is a program for Metro West pregnant women and new mothers who want support and nurturing; trained volunteer mothers come to the home for up to two hours a week until a baby's first birthday. COMPASS for kids (formerly Parenting Resource Associates), in Lexington, is a nonprofit agency offering parenting workshops and individual parent coaching.
Mothers and More is a national support and advocacy group for women who "have left the paid workplace and those who are working for pay part-time, full-time and everything in between." Meetings feature topical discussions and groups offer activities such as playgroups, book groups, moms' nights out, and events for couples and families. Local chapters include Assabet Valley, Central 495 Area, Lexington/Concord, MetroWest Boston, and Worcester County.
Other parenting education and support information is available from the (Massachusetts) Children's Trust Fund's site One Tough Job, including an excellent page on The Importance of Parent Support.
Don't forget that your town's public library also provides a wide variety of materials (mostly books, but also videos and CD-ROMs) on pregnancy, parenting and health! The regional library networks covering the Metro West area are: