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Ada Overton is the coordinator of Family Advocacy’s New Parent Support Program at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The program is designed to help expectant parents and parents of newborns, infants and toddlers tackle the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood.
Ada Overton is the coordinator of Family Advocacy’s New Parent Support Program at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The program is designed to help expectant parents and parents of newborns, infants and toddlers tackle the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Ada Overton’s two children are teenagers, but she deals daily with issues ranging from bottle feeding and nursing to prenatal bonding and separation anxiety.

Overton oversees Family Advocacy’s New Parent Support Program at Misawa for expectant parents and those with a newborn, infant or toddler at home.

A nurse practitioner, Overton, whose husband is Master Sgt. Gregory Overton of the 35th Mission Support Squadron, was hired as the program’s coordinator in March.

She’s since built up a client base of nearly 70 parents whom she either visits at home or calls on a regular basis to see whether they have any questions or concerns related to parenthood.

“The program is designed to educate and assist new parents from pregnancy to age 3,” she said. “Most are first-time parents, because they do have a lot of questions.”

The program isn’t unique to Misawa: New parent-support programs are available at more than 260 military installations worldwide where there are at least 300 births per year, according to the Military Family Resource Center Web site at They are designed to enhance the knowledge and skills that new parents need to form healthy relationships and to provide safe, nurturing environments for their children.

At Misawa, where young parents are thousands of miles from their families back home, Overton said she also often acts as a surrogate mother.

“They’re away from their family and they just want reassurance that what they’re doing is the right thing,” she said.

Common concerns Overton helps parents with include how to console a crying baby, how and when to potty train, when to take a sick child to the hospital and how to deal with separation anxiety.

She’s helped parents childproof their homes, visited new mothers and their babies at the hospital, educated fathers about sudden infant death syndrome and offered to give parents a break from a newborn’s demands.

“I tell them if the baby is crying and has kept you up all night and you just need a break or you just need a nap, I will come and sit with the baby for up to an hour,” Overton said. “So far, only two people have taken me up on it.”

Overton currently visits the homes of seven expectant mothers. “We talk about their anxieties, labor and delivery, if they’re planning to breast-feed, decorating the baby’s room,” she said. “Whatever they need, that’s what we do.”

Expectant parents typically sign up for the program during an orientation at the base hospital’s OB/GYN clinic, though they may also call Overton at DSN 226-2123. Program participants receive a variety of free educational materials and baby products and also can attend a number of parenting classes offered through Family Advocacy and the 35th Medical Group.

New Parent Support Program offerings

The New Parent Support Program at Misawa offers a variety of free parenthood education classes geared towards mothers- and fathers-to-be, including:

¶ Baby Care Basics: Diapering, burping, feeding, bathing, etc. For both parents. Meets from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every third Thursday of the month at Life Skills.

¶ Basic Training for Dads: Same topics as Baby Care Basics for fathers-to-be and new fathers. Meets every other month at Life Skills.

¶ Breast-feeding Basics: Meets from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first Friday of every month at Life Skills.

¶ Family Advocacy Childbirth Class: Taught by labor and delivery nurses. Class topics include signs of true labor and false labor; birthing process; hospital stay details and hospital tour. Offered from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. one Saturday a month, in the base hospital’s Rose Room.

¶ Breast-feeding Support Group: A new group for nursing mothers and those considering nursing. One goal of the group is to help working mothers juggle breast-feeding and job demands. First meeting is 5 p.m. Monday in the Women, Infant and Children Overseas office.

A support group for single parents also may be offered in the near future, according to Ada Overton, New Parent Support Program coordinator. Call DSN 226-2123 to sign up for a class or for more information.

—Jennifer Svan

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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