In Petersburg, Virginia, there’s an innovative new program bringing care directly to the homes of new mothers and pregnant mothers-to-be.
The road to motherhood is not always a smooth one. This is something Tanesha Ulmer, 26, knows all too well. She’s currently pregnant with her third child — the second was stillborn — and she was recently diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia.
For Petersburg mothers like Tanesha and even those with far less complicated pregnancies, the Healthy Start/Loving Steps program is a big step forward in prenatal care, according to The Progress-Index. The program, established earlier this year by the Virginia Department of Health, brings mothers in a small number of communities the essential care they need right to their door.
A Crucial Time to Get Health Care
Prenatal care is of course vital to the health of babies and their mothers. According to the Office of Women’s Health (OWH), “Babies of mothers who do not get care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.”
Part of prenatal care is prenatal visits to the doctor. The OWH recommends that expectant mothers visit the doctor once a month for the first 28 weeks, twice a month for weeks 28 – 36, and then weekly until the baby is born. During prenatal visits, doctors perform examinations and check in on the baby’s progress. This can help detect potential problems early on in a pregnancy and reduce risk.
Moreover, the growth of a baby as a fetus has long-term implications that last well beyond their early months. The Economist notes that the first 1000 days — nine months in the womb and two years out of it – are the most important to any child’s development.
Thus, the birth of your child shouldn’t signal the end of your visits to the doctor. The World Health Organization recommends that mothers and their new babies should see a doctor at least four times within the first six weeks of birth.
Healthy Start/Loving Steps
To address the issue of prenatal care, Healthy Start/Loving Steps helps mothers, between 20 and 40 years of age during and in the two years following their pregnancy, receive the care they and their babies need. The program works to increase accessibility of healthcare and health information by screening and addressing potential risks, either social, economic, or even poor nutrition, while also fighting to lower infant mortality rates, especially among African-American women.
Through the testing provided by Healthy Start/Loving Steps, Tanesha was able to identify her sickle cell disease early in her most recent pregnancy. And thanks to the support of the healthcare professionals and other women participating in Healthy Start/Loving Steps, Tanesha also successfully recovered from postpartum depression after her first child was born and post-traumatic stress after the second died in the womb.
Unfortunately, the community that Healthy Start/Loving Steps reaches currently encompasses only two towns and one county, as the Virginia Department of Health specifies. And the qualifying requirements are rather high, so grants could be slow if not entirely stopped from reaching other areas in Virginia in need of prenatal and pediatric care, to say nothing of the rest of the country.
How SingleCare Can Help
No mother should have to worry whether gaps in, or even lack of, health insurance will affect the life of her child. For people who want to take advantage of Virginia’s prenatal care services, there is an affordable solution.
SingleCare offers pay-as-you-go healthcare that allows members to directly access the doctors and specialists they need, when they need them. There are no monthly fees and members benefit from an average savings of 48%.
SingleCare’s network of health professionals includes top-notch obstetricians and gynecologists, who are working hard to care for members’ health needs throughout and following their pregnancies. Make sure you and your baby are getting the attention you need every step of the way with SingleCare.
(Main image credit: EmiliaU/Thinkstock)