by Dr. Michael Steven

As an OB/GYN physician, I have the unique privilege of participating in major life moments for women and their families – the birth of their baby, and for some, their babies.  For many of my patients, these moments are full of excitement and great anticipation.  For others, not so much. Young women who struggle with difficult and challenging circumstances, such as homelessness, unemployment, and even addiction see pregnancy in a very different light.  In spite of these difficult circumstances, many have a natural desire to be better, they just don’t know where to start, and they don’t even know what questions to ask.  Several of these women lack the support and guidance in their life that can often can be found with family and close friends, a trusted person who can help them navigate and access the resources available to them. Bright and intelligent young women who06 Dr. Michael Stevens are capable of being great parents are falling through the cracks because of this void in their lives.  When they show up in my office, I realize there is so much more they need to help them through pregnancy and into parenthood.  Help that goes beyond the things I will be sharing with them. These are large and complex issues many young women are attempting to cope and deal with, such as unemployment, lack of reliable transportation, many haven’t finished high school and perhaps live in tenuous situations.  It’s a vicious cycle of addiction and poor life choices, throw in an unplanned pregnancy and their situation quickly snowballs into hopelessness.

I believe that with a little nudge many of these women facing difficult and challenging circumstances could improve their situation and get on a path to be a good parent.  I believe this because I see it happen for the women who participate in the Nurse Family Partnership program.  This program provides a nurse to connect one on one with first time mothers who are within the first 28 weeks of their pregnancy. The nurse continues to meet regularly with the mom until the baby turns 2 years old, thereby becoming a trusted resource for mom and baby.  Imagine having someone to call with questions or to provide help finding information and guidance with navigating community resources which can be a complicated process. There is so much going on in those first formative years, helping these vulnerable moms find the understanding and courage to commit to a healthier life for both herself and her baby is an investment in their future and the future of this community.  It is my pleasure to serve as a member of the community advisory board and an advocate for this program.  Life can be pretty complicated and each unique situation can present significant hurdles to overcome – it is important to know that there are programs and people who care about you and your baby.  Give them a call, they can help.  724-9712

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Lucretia Free