At a provider meeting about five years ago, our physicians discussed how to improve the experience for families of newborns and young infants. As parents and professionals who take care of kids, you can imagine this was a topic that drew a lot of interest. What we all realized was that, like other pediatricians, we did a good job taking care of the babies, but there was so much more we could do for the families. We ended the meeting by asking one simple question: Remember back to how it felt. What do we wish, as parents of newborns, our pediatricians had done for us in the early days and months after our babies were born?
At our next meeting, we came up with the seeds for The First Month. There were three basic concepts. Gather as many services as possible under one roof, provide as much support or as little support as each family needs, and respect each family’s experience as a unique journey. We all agreed that, as pediatricians, we see families more than any other provider during these early days, and it was logical and appropriate for us to take on this challenge. For the next few years, we added a number of features to our practice in line with our new mission. For our patients who chose to breastfeed, we added a lactation consultant to our staff and created a room for comfortable lactation sessions at a fraction of the going rate. We partnered with a counselor specializing in talking to birth parents who need or just want some support. We held lectures for our staff to help everyone be more mindful of what birth parents and families are feeling when they come into our office in the days and weeks after the birth. Many of our families took advantage of these services and have commented that it made a big difference in the way they experienced the early days of parenting. This past year, we realized that there are many inspirational providers in the birth community of NYC who share our vision. We set out to meet as many of these providers as we could and see if they wanted to bring their own unique expertise to our young program. From obs to doulas, midwives to yoga instructors, birth educators to massage therapists, the response was overwhelming, and that is how we have arrived at where we are now with The First Month.