Kristine Pech is the mother of three healthy children, but she had no idea how much she didn't know about motherhood until the fourth time around.
Pech is one of four women enrolled in the Yampa Valley Pregnancy Center's free Earn While You Learn program, which is based on a curriculum that teaches women about prenatal care, newborn development and other aspects of motherhood from conception to three months after delivery. The program also includes lessons in child care.
The curriculum is self-paced, and students work through a series of 45 modules, each of which includes a video and written assignment. The more time a mother invests in the program, the sooner the modules will be completed.
"I spend one night a week at the center," Pech said. "I work and have kids at home, so I can't spend every day there, but some people do."
The curriculum covers health issues such as the hazards of smoking and drinking while pregnant but also offers information about proper nutrition, changes to the mother's body during pregnancy and other specific topics.
"The program gives mothers all kinds of information about what their baby looks like, how the body changes and all of the other wonderful things that happen when you are pregnant," said YVPC Director Sandi Billig.
Billig implemented the program in January, and it is modeled after a similar program developed in the Chicago area. At YVPC, each student who completes a module gets to select a baby-related item to take home. Items rinclude newborn diapers and clothing.
"I've gotten shoes, blankets and clothing," Pech said. "It's great because you get knowledge while getting things that you need for the baby." In addition to receiving the baby items, new mothers also make wish lists of large-scale items, and the YVPC tries to provide those items to the mothers upon completion of the program.
Billig thinks that the most important aspect of the program is that it gives pregnant women an advocate -- a resource to call with questions or concerns.
"This program gives us an opportunity to spend time with these women, and we become a support system for them so if they need anything at all, they can come to us and we'll answer what we can or refer them to the best person," Billig said.
Women can join the program at any time during their pregnancy.
Pech is amazed at how much she has learned through this program despite having three children.
"I'm learning so much, and this is my fourth child," she said.
For more information, call Sandi Billig at 824-5204.