Three months ago, when Bill and Mary Pat Johnston were trying to decide whether to relocate to Alpharetta from Boston, they factored in metro Atlanta’s lack of an Isis Parenting center.
“It topped our con list,” Bill Johnston said.
Still, they made the move. So, imagine the couple’s delight when they discovered recently that Isis was coming to the area.
The Johnstons were visiting the Babies “R” Us near their home in Alpharetta when Mary Pat saw a “coming soon” sign.
“Did you see,” she asked her husband.
“See what?” he asked.
“’The sign,’” he recalled her saying. “It was really exciting.”
The Johnstons, both 32, credit Isis with helping them maneuver nine months of pregnancy, child birth and the first year of their son Michael’s life.
“For first time parents, it was really nice to have a resource like that,” Bill Johnston said.
Just weeks ago, Isis opened “Nests” at four local Babies“R”Us stores and is scheduled to begin classes in August at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. Isis Parenting, which began in partnership with Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital nearly 10 years ago, offers prenatal and parenting classes to expecting and new parents through pregnancy, birth and the transition to parenthood. Classes include, but are not limited to, Prepared Childbirth, Newborn Essentials, Great Beginnings, Mom in the Making and Lactation Consults.
Isis was invited here a year ago by officials at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, said Dr. Lillian Schapiro, a obstetrician-gynecologist at the hospital.
Because of the Piedmont-Isis partnership, Schapiro said, expecting parents will have healthier pregnancies and be better prepared to navigate the transition from birth to early parenthood once they leave the hospital. In addition to classes, new and expectant moms can attend webinars hosted by Isis and Piedmont doctors. More than 130 people registered for the first webinar held Thursday.
“We have a huge population of people moving to Atlanta without support. So, for a lot of people, it will create a community,” Schapiro said. “You can Facetime with your mom in another state, but you need someone hands-on to get your baby to latch on or encourage you when you’re going through post-partum.”
Schapiro likened the Isis experience to the sleep deprived college years that lend themselves to developing lasting, meaningful friendships.
Although Piedmont won’t offer classes until August, anyone interested in enrolling in Isis can do so online at www.isisparenting.com and eventually on the Piedmont website.
“We are very excited about this partnership and are proud to be the first hospital in the area to participate in something like this,” Schapiro said. “I think that this will allow Piedmont to expand its reach into one of the most meaningful experiences of our patients’ lives.
“We want pregnancy and parenthood to be a joyful time. Sharing your experience and talking with experts can be invaluable during pregnancy and in the post-partum period. That is what Isis will bring. It combines evidence based medicine with hands-on care. We were fortunate they were in expansion mood.”
Heather Coughlin, chief executive officer at Isis Parenting, said the Isis community is filled with passionate educators and experts, as well as tens of thousands of clients and alumni like the Johnstons.
In addition to the “Nests,” Coughlin said that Isis Parenting will maintain a range of digital platforms, including live web chats, blogs and other social media to engage and connect parents and thought leaders.
“We’ve built a large online client base with our webinars and weekly online breastfeeding and sleep support chats, and it’s exciting to see connections being made in our new Atlanta locations that were initiated online,” Coughlin said. “And now, through our partnership with Babies “R” Us, we can reach and support even more families, and we are thrilled to bring our services to Atlanta.”
The Isis Parenting “Nests,” located in Babies“R” Us stores in Dunwoody, Smyrna, Alpharetta and Kennesaw, include a consultation room, two classrooms and Isis-endorsed products that complement the classroom experience. Services offered at Isis Parenting focus on topics such as breastfeeding and sleep support, childbirth education and new parent groups.
Coughlin said, “the centers have become hubs of activity and support for expecting and new parents over the past decade in Boston, and we know that we’ll have a similar impact on the Atlanta area.”
The Johnstons, who were first introduced to Isis in 2011 while preparing for the arrival of their son, agreed.
“The Boston hospital where I was planning to deliver suggested Isis for prenatal classes, including child birth preparation and infant CPR,” Mary Pat Johnston said. “After the arrival of our son, our pediatrician’s office highly recommended the Great Beginnings group Isis runs for new moms.”
In addition to the resources, she said that each class provided the opportunity to connect with other parents who were embarking on the same journey.
“I still keep in touch with the moms I met in the group,” she said.