It was a bonding moment between mothers: Tawni Harris, who had her fourth child on Monday at Hamilton Medical Center, and Georgia's first lady Sandra Deal, also the mother of four.

Harris, of Dalton, told Deal the birth of her son Graham was the hardest.

"You would think after four births it would get easier," she said. "We're doing good though."

Deal visited Hamilton Health Care System's Turner Maternal & Infant Care Center on Tuesday, meeting with new mothers and staff. She talked about the importance of immunizations and safe sleeping for babies.

"My fourth child was the hardest, too, but it's so special to get those babies here safely," Deal said. "There is no miracle like the miracle of life."

Deal spoke with Harris and Yudelaisys Pina Linares, who gave birth on Monday to son Dylan.

"I've been giving out immunization cards and visiting moms in the hospital for several years," Deal said. "It's hard to grow a baby for nine months, then have something happen."

Deal said that's why she talks to parents about the importance of taking care of their babies.

"I want moms to know once the baby comes how to take care of it," she said. "We talk about immunizations, keeping the baby healthy and having regular baby visits so the doctor can see the baby and monitor their weight."

Deal also talked about the importance of safe sleeping for babies, such as sleeping on their backs. Georgia's Safe Sleep program, through the Department of Public Health, says babies should sleep alone, on their backs and in a crib, with a firm, flat mattress and no toys or other items in the crib. That reduces the risk of sleep-related deaths. Georgia's First Steps program, also through the Department of Public Health, provides low-income new mothers with a small crib.

"When I was coming along they were teaching you to put the baby on its tummy," Deal said. "Now we know babies could smother from things getting around their faces, and they aren't strong enough to lift their heads."

Deal gave Harris and Linares a copy of the book "Who I'd Like to Be" by Elizabeth Brown to read to their babies.

"When mothers read to their babies they get used to their voice," she said. "The baby develops vocabulary and listening skills, and by looking at books they can learn colors, too."

Deal said she encourages reading even while the baby is still in the womb.

"It's so important to the maternal instinct to do that," she said.

Deal said now that school is back in session she will resume reading to students in classrooms across the state.

"I love reading to students and encouraging them to want to read," said Deal, a former middle school teacher. "Their brains and ears can absorb and learn to read for themselves. Reading also encourages children to think about who they want to be when they grow up."

Deal said she's enjoyed going to the hospitals across Georgia.

"I'm happy we have good facilities that offer prenatal care for mothers," she said. "It's good to see staff taking care of mothers as the baby grows, and see them get a good start in life."

Melinda Edgeman, director of Women's Services at Hamilton, said it was good to have Deal visit again. This was Deal's third visit to the hospital. She last visited in August of 2017.

"Patients love interacting with her because she is so personable," Edgeman said. "It's a joy to watch."

Harris called Deal "precious."

"She was sweet, not a lot of people would take time to talk to us like she did," Harris said.

She said Deal gave her and her husband Alex "very important information."

"It's necessary because sometimes people overlook things," she said. "Even when it's your fourth child you can't forget the essentials."

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