EAST HANTS: Young mothers in East Hants now have another outlet.
The East Hants Family Resource Centre is preparing to offer a pre-natal program for young women, 25 and under, who are expecting a child.
The Family Resource Centre, along with help from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Public Health Services and the East Hants Adult Learning Association, will offer the program from April 3, to June 5.
Cathy MacDonald, the program coordinator, said Public Health saw an apparent need for the program in East Hants.
“In the past few years, public health officials have seen a growing number of young mothers in East Hants,” she said. “In East Hants in 2010, 22 new moms, about half were 25 and under, so really with those kinds of rates there’s kind of high. Those aren’t as far as Stewiacke, but we will go as far as Stewiacke.”
These young mothers may not be taking care of themselves properly. MacDonald said this program will teach young mothers pre-natal care.
“Not only were they seeing that there were a number of young mothers, but they were seeing in many instances, they weren’t accessing medical appointments,” explained MacDonald. “In rural East Hants, some of these mothers weren’t going to the doctor until they were six months pregnant.”
As an incentive, free pre-natal vitamins will be offered for the young mothers who participate. There will also be an attendance incentive of a car seat.
“The IWK has a car seat grant that they gave to us and we had enough to buy 12 car seats.
These are 0-65 pound car seats, you won’t need another one,” said MacDonald.
The program has been in the planning stages since June, 201, when a steering committee was struck to discuss the need.
Members of the steering committee include guidance counsellors from the local high schools, Kids Action Plan in Hants North, local Doula Wanda Cox, the department of Community Services, and the Colchester East Hants Library.
“We’ve got such a huge and diverse group of supporters it’s unreal,” said MacDonald.
All of those resources are joining forces to ensure young mothers have all of the support they need to keep themselves—and their babies—safe.
“Part of what we wanted to do is say, ‘okay, you need to take care of yourself and you need to take care of your baby, we need to have the best experience for you that we possibly can,’ and once baby is here, ‘how can we take care of baby, and what are your community supports,’ said MacDonald. “That’s the whole package of what we’re trying to present to them.”
But, the program isn’t just reaching out to young mothers, each expectant mother can bring a support person with them to also get the education they need.
“So they can come with their boyfriend, sister, husband, whomever,” said MacDonald. “That support person can come and learn along with them.
“They don’t have to have a support person, they can be there on their own.”
Not only is this program looking to educate young mothers, but also aims to reach out to the community as well.
“Part of it too is letting the community know that young moms do have challenges that they really are looking for help and support and it’s an education for the community at large as well,” said MacDonald. “It can be anything from donating knitted booties to groceries cards so that the moms can go out and try some of the nutrition that we’re talking about, so gift cards and that kind of things.”
To pre-register for the program or to see how you can help, call 883-4349 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.