Pregnancy and Parenting:

Pregnancy and Parenting:

A baby means major changes — changes in your body, eating habits and lifestyle. Physical and hormonal changes may bring constant nausea and send emotions skyrocketing. If you're ahead of the game, you're also thinking about labor and delivery and after that — diapers, discipline, baby sitters, health insurance, financial security and a whole host of things that you might never have considered.

Not every woman is prepared for her pregnancy and the responsibilities that follow, especially if it's her first child or if the pregnancy was unexpected. Eagle Point senior Holley Kerr didn't plan on getting pregnant last year at the age of 17. What with finishing high school, holding down two jobs, and learning to care for her baby — Holley's got her hands full. "It's harder than anything I've ever had to do," Holley says.

Healthy parenting classes and day care provided by the Eagle Point High School Teen Parent Center have helped Holley become a better mom and to stay in school. "In the pregnancy class, we've done nutrition and we learned about labor, delivery and postpartum. They teach us how to discipline, good ways to find child care when we get out of the center, and how to budget," Holley says. "I probably wouldn't have learned these things without the center."

Christi Remick is director of the Eagle Point High School Teen Parent Center and is dedicated to keeping teen parents in school and on the right track. "We stress the need to make good decisions and to think long range," says Remick.

Holley's planning on going to Oregon State University on a pre-pharmacy scholarship.

She's already checked out the university's day care program so that she and her daughter can go off to college in the fall. "That's a promise, I am ready to go," she says.

Large, nurturing families filled with wise grandparents, experienced parents and older siblings aren't around for many women who become pregnant. Today's mobile society and frequently fragmented and blended families mean that when their time comes, many women will be on their own.

The Rogue Valley Parenting Center, a faith-based program in Medford, is the right choice for some local women, helping them through pregnancy and the first year of parenting. Whether it's maternity clothes or diapers, the center gives assistance to those in need.

The center offers support and workshops to help women with both short-term and long-term goals. "We put women together who will be delivering at the same time, so they become connected and it gives them a future, a hope," explains Cyndy Bright, executive director of the center. Moms-to-be learn about nutrition, childbirth, lactation, budgeting, and social services. At the end of the class, moms have a baby shower and are showered with gifts and necessities contributed by the community.

While some people are born to be good parents, almost everyone can benefit from some additional help.

Jean Fyfe is a parent educator with Community Works and helps parents build a strong family foundation of self-esteem, communication and responsibility. "Kids don't come with an instruction manual and parenting is one of the most difficult and complex jobs we ever do," Fyfe notes. "Many of us don't realize what it is we're doing and not doing and it helps to get some new ideas and some guidance."

Parents need a lot of different skills and practical techniques that they know will work for them. "If you just use a hammer to go and build a house you're not going to get very far. You need a whole variety of skills to pick and choose from. Often we come with the tool box we got from our parents. But there's new things, there's new research, and it's a different world now," says Fyfe.

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