Improving Mother-Baby Outcomes

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Category: News

March 10, 2023

A family’s dynamic impacts a child’s brain development. The foundation for a child’s success is being built even before the baby is born. Anything the mom is experiencing the baby is experiencing as well.

Furthermore, the way a person was raised, the trauma they faced in their lifetime, and the community in which they live all affect that child before they’re conceived.

To help children succeed, we need to start as early as possible.

But how can we affect those things that could have started generations ago? Or the outside factors that are beyond a family’s control?

The Role of Stress and Trauma

Everyone experiences stress. It tends to go up or down at different times of someone’s life, or even during one day! Adults often try to shield stress from a child. However, adults need tools to manage that stress. It isn’t as simple as self-care ideas. Managing stress can involve rearranging one’s life, goals or relationships. Supporting parents through education, practical tools, and connecting them to resources can make big changes possible.

Preventing adverse early childhood and community experiences (ACEs) in children, starts with recognizing and addressing ACEs in the parents’ life.

Working with parents to encourage positive caregiving enhances a child’s growth and development. In Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), a program that partners first-time pregnant moms with registered nurses to create better futures for themselves and their babies, maternal and child health are intertwined.

Unless a family—and the community around them—takes measurable steps to change, stress affecting the parents will persist, or even increase.

Through innovations in maternal health, NFP nurses assess both moms and babies to detect early warning signs of problems in both physical and mental health. These early screenings promote more positive outcomes.

Working Through Challenges

One way we equip parents with tools to manage life with a young child is by helping them understand their child’s development. In infancy especially, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with daily caretaking. We help mothers understand typical behavior and how to work with it. But it’s not just about milestones and informing moms about their baby’s development. To be most effective, we prioritize the relationship between parent and child, and in turn between nurse and mother.

What is getting in the way of being able to care for themselves or their babies? How can we make sure that baby is taken care of?

NFP nurse home visitors can observe caregiver-child interactions during visits. Through a technique called motivational interviewing, we help parents become more receptive to change. We talk about what changes the family is already considering that may improve the child’s opportunity for success; and what things in their life they’re not willing to change. Together, we create goals and plans to reach them.

Another tool we use is screening for possible concerns to the mother and child. When you help a person understand their risks, and how they may escalate, you empower them to navigate tricky situations. One example of this is around intimate partner danger. For women who may be at risk, using a calendar may help identify stressors or patterns that can lead to a likelihood of escalation or violence. With this information, a woman can be prepared for and have a plan to ensure her safety and the safety of her baby.

A Window of Opportunity

During a woman’s first pregnancy, parents are often open to change. There’s a window of opportunity when they’re more receptive to make improvements in their lives and set up success for future pregnancies. That’s one reason why Nurse-Family Partnership works with first-time pregnant moms starting early in pregnancy.

People can always change. Parenting is a learned skill. However, it’s easier to shape a child’s future when you start early.

All the factors that are around before a baby is born, will be there after they’re born too! By addressing issues before the baby arrives, or ideally, before a woman gets pregnant, we see significant long-term benefits. For example, every $1 invested in the NFP program yields $5.10 in future cost savings.

When a mother is supported in pregnancy and throughout parenthood, the person who benefits the most is the child.


Nurse-Family Partnership

First-time parents are matched with a personal nurse to bring guidance to this important stage in life.

Prevention & Legislation

Various aspects of our work center on prevention, including therapies, respite and mental health support.

Innovations in Maternal Health

Any Baby Can is committed to supporting moms' health in pregnancies, births and post-partum.


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