VNSNY’s Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program in the Bronx pairs nurses with low-income, first-time mothers, starting in pregnancy and continuing through the child’s second birthday, in order to promote life-long health and wellness for mom, child and future generations. Lisa C., RN, talks about how NFP mothers receive ongoing health and parenting guidance and are also encouraged to continue school and start a career.
Four-and-a-half years. Before that I was working with a foster care program for medically fragile children. I kept seeing cases where earlier intervention would have helped prevent these children’s medical problems or their entry into the foster care system, so I applied to NFP. Supporting the health of mothers and their kids starting in pregnancy is so important to their health later on.
It’s amazing. I love the fact that we work with each mom for well over two years. We have the opportunity to see mothers transition into being parents and watch their child grow and develop. I also love seeing our moms return to school and work—setting goals and reaching them. One of my recent clients was just 16 when I started working with her, and wasn’t engaged in school at all. Now, she’s on track to graduate from high school and is thinking about college.
The bond these parents form with their children. The parents in the program are so patient and loving with their children—always putting their kids first and thinking about their needs. Many were raised in less than ideal circumstances themselves, and come to Nurse-Family Partnership to learn what “good” parenting looks like. To see them gain confidence as parents is really gratifying. For example, one client’s pediatrician strongly discouraged her from breast-feeding after the child’s first birthday. With what she’d learned from NFP she was able to stick to her guns and continue.
We start focusing on maternal bonding during pregnancy and do a lot of education around the child’s developmental stages, and what to expect at different ages. We also focus on nutrition during and after pregnancy—many of our clients end up making their own baby food—and stress the importance of prenatal appointments. And we emphasize warning signs to look for during pregnancy. A number of our moms have gone into preterm labor, but because they knew the signs and went right to the hospital, they were able to get proper care and go to full term. And I’ll never forget my client who woke up the day before her due date and noticed her fetus wasn’t moving. She remembered our talks about this and went straight to the emergency room. An ultrasound showed that her baby’s umbilical cord was wrapped around its throat. They did an emergency C-section and saved the baby’s life. Today, the baby and mom are fine.
That while the program is incredible for moms and their kids, its impact is really much wider than that. The Bronx NFP has served nearly 4,000 families, and its benefits are felt across those families, including among siblings and older relatives. It affects all generations in a very powerful way.