Becoming a new mother is an intense experience that affects all areas of your life including work, relationships, identity, and emotional health. Motherhood adds stress to life, no matter how good you feel. The challenges of caring for a newborn, other children, home, and whatever else can cause problems for you physically and emotionally - unless you have good support. One form of help available to you is a parent coach.

Parent coaching is offered over the telephone or in person, depending on the agency. Parent coaching helps new moms (and dads too) become aware of their beliefs about child rearing and other important areas relating to parenthood. The coach also can teach you the ins and outs of infant care. Coaches focus on the day-to-day activities of motherhood, providing the parenting skills you need to build self-confidence.

Who Are Parent Coaches?

Parent coaches are not licensed by a government agency, so they have varying qualifications. They are parents, but they don’t necessarily have professional training. Some just want to share their valuable parenting experiences. Other coaches may, for instance, be former early childhood educators or pediatricians, who have found this new field.

How Do Parent Coaches Help?

Parenting coaches provide assistance in many ways, depending on the needs of the family and the services offered. If you need guidance solving a specific issue with a child, the coach will take a focused approach. If you have general questions or concerns about discipline, encouraging children to eat healthfully, toilet training, colic, sleep problems, or anything else, the coach will offer information and aid in those areas. Coaches can be particularly useful when parents don’t have friends or family who can advise them or they have doctors who can’t take time to support them the way they need.

A good parent coach empowers parents to use their own wisdom to make good decisions. The goal of coaching is to help parents function effectively and self-confidently. They can also help a couple work better together as parenting partners.

Coaching Sessions

Usually, coaches work with families in thirty minute sessions, once per week. Since coaching can be done by phone, parents are not limited to a particular geographic area when choosing a coach. The initial contact is usually free and helps to determine if the coach is offering what you need and if you and the coach are a good “fit”. The coach will take some time to get to know you and ask about questions and concerns that you have. The coach will set basic ground rules, such as how the two (or three) of you will communicate and work together.

Parent coaching is not counseling or psychological therapy. There is no diagnosis of psychological or medical disorders. A good coach should be able to recognize problems that are outside their ability and require professional help. At that time, the coach would refer the parents to an appropriate health professional.

Author's Bio: 

Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D. is the author of Postpartum Depression For Dummies and co-author of Beyond the Blues: Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression. Her latest book Pregnant on Prozac will be available in January of ’09. She’s also created guided imagery audios that are specifically focused on helping moms take care of themselves. ABC's “20/20” featured Dr. Shoshana as the postpartum expert and news stations including CNN consult her. Several publications including the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News have written articles on Dr. Shoshana’s work. She’s interviewed regularly on radio and television and has been quoted in dozens of newspapers and magazines such as the Boston Globe, Glamour, Psychology Today, New York Post, Self, Cosmopolitan, USA Weekend and the Chicago Tribune.

Dr. Shoshana is a survivor of two life-threatening, undiagnosed postpartum depressions. She founded Postpartum Assistance for Mothers in 1987, and is a former president of Postpartum Support International. Dr. Shoshana has helped over 17,000 women worldwide through individual consultations, support groups and teleclasses. As a noted guest lecturer and keynote speaker, she travels throughout the US and abroad, training medical and mental health professionals to assess and treat postpartum depression and related mood disorders. She earned three teaching credentials, two masters degrees, a Ph.D. and is licensed as a clinical psychologist. She is working to pass legislation that helps reduce the incidence and impact of postpartum mood disorders.