First Time Mothers Get Tips, Support From Nurse Family Partnership
Eloina Dichi, a 25-yr.-old Mexican immigrant, faced having her first baby alone in this country. For the expectant young woman with limited resources and support, the joyful occasion promised to become an overwhelming experience even with the expert care of the Harlem Hospital prenatal unit team.
"I don’t have anyone in this country to help me and the nurse became like a friend to me when I was pregnant,” said Eloina about her new found partner in child care, a specially trained nurse who visited her at home through the last weeks of pregnancy and will continue visits to share parenting tips and advice until Eloina’s baby is 2 years old.
“Now that the baby's here, it’s not easy being a mother. But I trust the nurse to teach me what I need to know,” Eloina added.
With the recently announced expansion of the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) now available for eligible patients at many HHC facilities at no cost, visiting nurses will now be able to help some 1,000 low-income, first-time mothers, their infants and families.
“Most of us do not learn about babies or parenting until we have our own, so every first-time mom can benefit from some caring expertise,” said Beatriz Lugo, one of the NFP visiting nurses at Harlem Hospital. “We guide women through their pregnancy and teach them what they need to know about the baby’s care.”
NFP registered nurses visit expectant mothers every two weeks before delivery and share advice about eating the right foods, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and getting prenatal care regularly. After the baby is born, the nurse teaches parents how to promote the child’s health through activities like breast feeding and creating a safe environment to prevent injuries in and out of the home. Young mothers also get encouragement and assistance to go back to school and advice on planning future pregnancies.
Research has shown the NFP model leads to better pregnancy outcomes and improved health and development of children, including a reduction in child abuse and neglect and fewer childhood injuries. The program also helps parents create a positive life course for themselves and avoid unintended subsequent pregnancies.
Harlem, the first HHC hospital to develop the program, has more than 130 women currently enrolled. With funding from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NFP services will be extended to patients in prenatal programs at Queens, Kings, Lincoln, Woodhull and Metropolitan Hospitals.