Free program helps new parents with coping skills

Free expert help for fussy babies

NEW ORLEANS - It's supposed to be the happiest day of your life, the day you bring home a new baby. But doctors say some people can have a tough time adjusting. And in some cases, post pregnancy hormones can severely change behavior. Now a free program can help.

Jen Fultz is enjoying being Flynn's mom. but she remembers many months ago, when her daughter was an infant and things were tough.

"I felt kind of isolated even though I had good friends. It's hard to explain. It just kind of turned me on my head," said Fultz who works at ZukaBaby on Magazine Street.

Her husband, deep into nursing school, suggested she call the Tulane F.U.S.S.Y. Baby Program.

A group of professionals in psychiatry and infant mental health experts, help any caretakers, free.

"Typically, on average, we do maybe four home visits. Some parents need us longer. Some parents just need a phone call or two," explained Dr. Sherryl Scott Heller, Director of the F.U.S.S.Y. Baby Program, and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Tulane School of Medicine.

Too often we hear of shaken babies, permanently brain-damaged, or who die at the hands of a caretaker who could not cope. And some neurologists in Baton Rouge say they have seen an increase. F.U.S.S.Y. Baby can help.

"It decreases parental depression and anxiety, which is a risk factor for shaken baby. It increases parental competence and it enhances the parent child relationship," said Dr. Heller.

One in five babies cry, or are fussy, for no known reason. All their needs are met. They're not tired, hungry, and their diapers don't need to be changed. Other times it's one of the many sad consequences of an expectant mother who used drugs.

"One of the things that they worry about these babies who have been substance abused, they tend to have a little more difficulty regulating. They tend to be fussy. They tend to be more easily stimulated," said Dr. Heller.

But for Jen, it was completely different. Her difficulty with breast feeding lead to her own anxiety.

"I thought all this was supposed to come naturally to me and it really wasn't, so that made me feel like I was kind of failing in that aspect," said Fultz.

But her F.U.S.S.Y. Baby expert turned things around.

"The struggle is normal. And so if you're feeling sad or anxious or feeling just like you're going to tear your hair out because you haven't slept, that it's not you. This is early parenting," said Dr. Anna Breuer, a Tulane Infant Mental Health Specialist.

If you'd like help with parenting a fussy baby, call the warm line at 1-855-371-BABY.


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