I have played the role of client, volunteer, donor and am currently considering joining the Board of Directors at Bloomington Area Birth Services (BABS). This organization has literally altered the course of my life as a parent in ways that I never could have imagined; I am without a doubt a better person, friend, wife, community member and mother because of the resources provided at BABS. My experience with BABS began when I took the Childbirth Education course. An eight week course focused on labor and delivery, breastfeeding and post-partum considerations, this class prepared me and my husband for the process of delivering our son, feeding our son and caring for ourselves and our new baby in the weeks and months after his birth. Without this course, birth would have been a frightening and overwhelming time; because of the course we knew what to expect, as well as what was important to us as a family during birth. In the weeks and months following our son's birth, BABS provided space for me to come with my newborn to talk with other mothers, get insight into sleep, nursing and other pressing new parent concerns and to simply feel welcome with all the messiness that comes with a newborn. Although babies are welcome in many places, they are often less welcome when they are crying or needing to nurse constantly; at BABS, mothers feel accepted and validated...what they are doing and feeling is normal, and to allow new mothers to realize this allows them to feel confident and competent in their ability to mother well. The breastfeeding support provided through the Nurse and Chat program is priceless for our community. I often tell expecting mothers to make a point of coming to the first meeting after their new babies have arrived, even if it is the first place they take their baby! Breastfeeding is not easy in the early weeks of motherhood, and without an excellent support network, research has shown success rates drop dramatically. BABS is a resource for women who are struggling to initiate breastfeeding, are working to resolve the balance between nursing and working outside the home, adjusting to nursing a toddler or a second child and everything in between. Ann Marie, the lactation consultant who hosts Nurse and Chat, literally changes the course of mothers and babies' lives each month at this meeting--helping women who are on the brink of giving up breastfeeding see that they will not only survive, but that they will thrive! After the first couple of months mothering and being a 'BABS mama', I decided I needed to volunteer. I had been given so much without giving much of anything to BABS; what I had the most of was time. What started as folding newsletters led to helping solicit donations for the annual gala auction, helping host Nurse and Chat and most recently facilitating New Mom Support groups. Now that my son is an 'older baby', I have found my support network of other mothers; these are women without whom I honestly cannot imagine my days. My identity as a mother, and in turn my son's childhood, has been defined largely by the sense of community I gained from the services BABS offers. When asked if I was willing to commit to helping facilitate the New Mom Group, I knew it was the right thing for me to do. These groups run for eight weeks and meet weekly for 90 minutes. They provide space for mothers of newborns to discuss their experiences, emotions, relationships and challenges. After watching the evolution of these new mothers into confident, connected and loving mothers, I was more than happy to agree to volunteer for the next eight week group. I have recently been asked to join BABS' Board of Directors. This has been an easy commitment for me to make, as I fully believe that the services and resources that BABS provides improve our community immeasurably. Children quite literally are the future of any community; without appropriate support for parents from pregnancy through toddlerhood, we are not truly supporting the children of our communities. Whether it be educating families on childbirth, breastfeeding and pre- and post-natal health or providing support to families in processing their birth, building community and creating a parenting style that best suits the needs of all members of the family, BABS has something to offer every expecting or new parent in Southern Indiana.