By Chris Michlewicz, Staff Writer 10/19/2007 Being a first-time parent can be daunting. That’s why one woman made it her mission to teach the essentials of raising a happy baby. Nikki Wellensiek, owner BirthPro, is introducing Douglas County residents to a program known as the “Happiest Baby on the Block.” The class teaches parents to apply proper calming techniques to sooth a crying baby. Wellensiek, a parenting workshop instructor at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Denver, created her business to teach people “what to expect when you are in labor, and the anatomy and physiology of childbirth,” she said. It is the job of a childbirth educator to inform people of the options they have, but many people are surprisingly in the dark about the most basic elements. “Even the most educated families don’t know what to expect. People are blind going into it,” Wellensiek said. “We are some of the most educated and well-read parents, but we’re also the most inexperienced. Some people have never even held a newborn. Birth and newborn care is completely foreign to them.” BirthPro classes typically last two hours and are taught inside homes. Participants get a DVD reminding them of the best calming techniques and a CD of white noise to help babies sleep. “Not being able to calm a newborn can be frazzling and upsetting. It can lead to many things, like post-partum depression and marital stress,” Wellensiek said. Many expecting parents are afraid to ask specific questions of their doctors; BirthPro can answer a lot of those tough questions.
The company offers “evidence-based advice” that allows the parents to conduct research without poring through volumes of books. “BirthPro is a great resource because it fills gaps and it’s customizable. It comes to the rescue of a lot of parents,” Wellensiek said. “It can give moms and dads the tools they need to help babies sleep longer and more soundly. Everyone wants their baby to be happy and sleep longer.” Wellensiek, a certified Lamaze instructor who also teaches “prepared childbirth classes,” said some parenting classes in hospitals are not covered by insurance. Some people simply elect not to take the classes, but most obstetricians recommend them. Wellensiek doubles as a “doula,” which is a labor support professional. She accompanies women during childbirth and provides on-call support to parents. Wellensiek, a mother of two daughters, trained under pediatrician and author Harvey Karp to learn the “happiest baby” program. It teaches the “five S’s” – swaddling, swinging, shushing, sucking and stomach positioning. The techniques, if used properly, trigger a calming reflex naturally ingrained in the baby. Babies actually have 70 reflexes, including a crying reflex. The key is to hone in on the ones that keep the baby happy, Wellensiek said. Those who have a newborn can receive in-home consultations. In 2008, BirthPro will expand its infant care classes to include how to bathe a baby, change a diaper and know when a baby is sick. Wellensiek said daycare centers everywhere are clamoring for Karp’s newest educational program, “Happiest Toddler on the Block,” which will come out sometime next year. The next “Happiest Baby on the Block” class will be from noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 20 at 5541 Nuthatch Road in the Timbers at the Pinery in Parker. Call 720-470-2838. For information and pricing, visit www.birthproonline.com. ©Colorado Community Newspapers 2007