The coronavirus may be keeping people at home, but it has not stopped nurses from providing prenatal and postnatal care to first-time mothers in need. Nurses with the Nurse Family Partnership of Central Alabama continue to see their patients, albeit in different ways than they have in the past.
The program, which has been in the Birmingham area for almost three years, is an agency that connects nurses who support pregnant mothers having their first baby. The nurses provide weekly or biweekly home visits during pregnancy and throughout the first two years of the child’s life. It is run by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing and the Jefferson County Department of Health.
While the nurses are not able to see their patients in person, they are using FaceTime, Zoom, texting and phone calls to keep up with appointments.
“The crisis has caused mothers to reconnect with their nurse if they had been missing appointments in the past. In many cases, those mothers have come back to us,” said Candace Knight, Ph.D., an obstetric nurse at the UAB School of Nursing and the director of the program. “The moms seem to be really positive about connecting this way. They want to protect themselves, their babies and us, in the same way that we want to protect them.”
Aside from making sure the mothers and babies are safe, the nurses are also ensuring that they have enough to eat, have the supplies they need, and are prepared to continue to provide for themselves and their families.
“We are focusing on connecting our moms with resources for food. Our nurses have been delivering diapers and formula when needed,” Knight explained. “If the mother has been laid off, we are making sure they are plugged in and receiving unemployment benefits and have resources to find other jobs.”
The Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, SafeCare and the Children’s Policy Council have helped the Nurse-Family Partnership provide formula to the mothers and babies.
Lactation consultants are also reaching out to new mothers via FaceTime to make sure they have the information they need to successfully breastfeed.
While the nurses are eager to visit their patients in person, Knight says the overall morale from both mothers and nurses has been positive.
“They want to get back out there and actually see their moms and babies, but it has been a blessing that we can still provide care and connect with our moms,” Knight said. “Everyone is glad to be able to take care of our moms and their babies.”