Page 7 - Heart of Hoag December 2016
P. 7

Warm, engaging, funny, animated, wonderful, invaluable – those are just a few of the words couples who have attended Juan Diego Noreña’s workshops use to describe his effective teaching style.
He Escorts Parents-to-Be Along the Thrilling Road of Pregnancy and Early Childhood
Tailored for Spanish-speaking couples, Nore~na’s popular classes – now offered at the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living – help prepare for baby’s arrival and beyond.
On a Thursday night in November, a roomful of couples listened and watched as Juan Diego Noreña discussed the challenges – and above all else – the wonders of parenthood.
Speaking in Spanish and moving animatedly about the room, Noreña told them they’re in for the most incredible
ride of their lives. As he pointed to photos and showed short videos about childbirth and childcare, the couples alternated between nervous smiles, boisterous laughter and exchanging knowing looks among themselves.
Since May of 2016, Noreña has offered the increasingly popular Childbirth Preparation classes for parents-to-be at the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living. Sponsored by MOMS Orange County, the classes
are designed speci cally for
Spanish-speaking expectant parents and are part of MOMS Orange County’s maternal-child health
programs. These programs lead to measurably improved birth outcomes for the babies of those who participate, as well as to stronger families.
During the Childbirth Preparation Class, Noreña teaches about the stages of labor, anesthesia and medical interventions, relaxation exercises and preparing for labor. Other classes cover many other topics such as prenatal care, breastfeeding, gestational diabetes prevention, parent-child bonding, preventing child abuse, balancing work and family responsibilities, and working through the relationship changes that can occur when a baby enters the picture.
Noreña is the only male health educator on the organization’s staff and serves as its Director of Health Education.
“It’s wonderful having a man teach workshops like these, especially someone with Juan Diego’s warmth, charisma and good humor,” says Michaell Rose, LCSW, director of community programs. “The insights he brings to the classes – both from a Latino cultural perspective and as a loving father himself – have made them very popular and in demand. He’s a strong role model for young families, and many couples have said the classes helped their marriage and taught them the importance of good communication, patience and sharing responsibilities.”
“Having been born and raised in Colombia, I completely understand the cultural aspects of Latino men and their perceived roles in the family and in raising children,” Noreña says. “That’s why I’ve always made sure that the Workshop for New Dads pays close attention to the cultural experiences of the men who attend. They have perfectly good intentions when they say, ‘I will work, and that’s my job as a father. You are the mother and in charge of the babies.’”
In a testament to their popularity and effectiveness, many new fathers return after their babies are born to pitch in and help other dads-to-be learn the ropes of what it truly means to be a parent.
According to MOMS Orange County of cials, the men who complete the workshop aren’t the only ones whose lives are impacted by them. So is Noreña’s. “The Workshop for New Dads, as well as the ones for couples, have taught me so much,” he says. “They’ve inspired me to become a better father to my own children.”

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