A healthy pregnancy is one of the best ways to promote a healthy birth. For some expectant women, however, access to prenatal care is not always an option.
Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas has been working to help expectant mothers overcome healthcare barriers through its Pregnancy Maintenance Initiative (PMI) program. It is available to any pregnant woman living in Wyandotte or Johnson counties. For those living outside of those areas, the staff schedules a one-time visit and tries to connect them to services in their community.
“Our goal is to help them deliver a healthy, full-term baby,” explains Heather Roberts, LMSW, Coordinator of Adoption and Pregnancy Counseling. “We do that by providing counseling and support that continues for six months post-delivery.”
Education is a big part of the program. Staff provide life-saving information about safe sleep practices and car seat safety, which is especially impactful in the refugee communities. “Time and time again I hear ladies say ‘thank you, this is so helpful’ or ‘I never knew the information before’ and due to the information, they are practicing safe sleep and educating child care providers about its importance, as well,” says Roberts.
Thanks to the generosity of parishes and community groups who donate new baby items to Catholic Charities, PMI participants are provided some essentials for the baby including diapers, wipes, clothing, infant seats, Pack ‘n Plays and strollers. “Currently, we are in need of new or gently used baby girl clothes up to size 2T,” adds Roberts.
If needed, the program case manager connects the pregnant woman to services offered at one of Catholic Charities’ Family Support Centers including food pantry, clothing closet, direct financial assistance and financial education. They are also made aware of a number of community resources available to them post-delivery. In addition, for those who choose not to parent their baby, the PMI program works in partnership with Catholic Charities’ Adoption program.
The PMI program serves approximately 50 women each year. “We enjoy being able to walk with these women during this important time,” says Roberts. “We are able to care, not only for the health and well-being of the pregnant women we serve, but for their babies, as well.”
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