Nurse family partnership for new moms

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
February 28, 2008 5:22:27 PM PST
Taking care of a new baby is not always something that comes naturally to a new mom. There's a lot to be learned. And that early care can impact a child forever. An important city program is helping to make healthy babies and moms.

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

It is a partnership between a nurse and low-income first-time mothers. The goal is to create healthy happy babies and happy healthy moms who know how to take care of their new babies and give them the very best.

Shirley Joseph usually arrives carrying a doll. It is the teaching tool this nurse uses when she visits first-time moms like Bernadette Robinson.

Nurse Shirley has been visiting regularly because of Adjani, Bernadette's 5-week old son.

Bernadette enrolled in the health department's nurse-family partnership in the third month of her pregnancy and began receiving regular visits from Shirley.

"I started to talk to her about prenatal care and what she can do to help her baby," Joseph said.

"I actually changed my eating habits during the pregnancy, drinking more milk, eating fruits and vegetables at all times," Robinson said.

Shirley also helps new moms keep track of medical appointments and provides them with emotional and social support.

When the babies are born, she teaches the new mom things like crib safety, hygiene, changing diapers and cleaning the baby properly.

But while the physical care is important, Shirley says teaching the new moms how to talk to and bond with their babies is what gives her the most satisfaction.

"Some moms didn't have a chance to have that closeness with their mother," Joseph said. "So coming in and teaching them how to help better raise their child makes me feel that I'm accomplishing something, breaking a cycle."

Last month, the city health department expanded the program to five new neighborhoods. It is now in all five boroughs.

Any first-time pregnant woman can call 311 and ask about the nurse-family partnership to find if she is eligible.

Studies have found that programs like these have life long benefits for families.

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