It can be one of the most exciting times in a woman's life, but for low-income new moms, it can also be the scariest.
"We focus a lot on the social, the emotional, the physical challenges and questions that come with the territory of being a first-time mom," said Ashely Kinker.
Kinker is a nurse with the Nurse-Family Partnership program. The idea began more than 20 years ago when a pediatrician noticed unprepared moms having unhealthy babies. The effects of poor healthcare during pregnancy translated into behavioral problems, problems in school and an increase in criminal activity. So, founder Dr. David Olds, found a way to pair those vulnerable moms with their own nurse.
The NFP in Marion County is the first in the state and is the only program in the country supported by Goodwill Industries.
"We want to improve pregnancy outcomes, improve health and development of the child and increase the economic self-sufficiency of the family," explained Lisa Crane, the Nurse Coordinator and an employee of Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana.
Studies of women who use NFP show long-term benefits including fewer hospital visits for children, fewer incidents of behavioral problems and a reduction in child abuse and neglect.
"There is a dramatic decrease for the child and the bother in incarceration rates and in juvenile justice system interventions," Crane said.
Goodwill Industries studied the need for NFP in Central Indiana and found the infant mortality rate in Marion County to be 20% higher than the state average. There are an estimated 3,000 women who qualify for the program by being first-time mothers, Medicaid eligible and residents of Marion County.
Kinker said she hopes more moms will ask about getting the kind of care that can make the difference for a happy mom and a healthy baby.
"I would want [new moms] to know that there is support out there, that she doesn’t have to be alone going through this," Kinker said.