Motherhood is a major life event for any woman. From pregnancy and delivery to those first months with the new baby, it is a time of major changes and challenges, and the transition can be even more difficult without the necessary emotional, medical and financial support. Founded in 1991, Nurses for Newborns (NFN) provides in-home nurse visits, health care assistance, education and connections to resources for new mothers, fathers and other caregivers.
The nonprofit’s mission is to ensure that babies and their mothers are happy, healthy and thriving. Expectant and new mothers can be referred to NFN by local hospitals, clinics and social service agencies, or they can contact the office on their own. The organization works to help anyone who needs support, according to CEO Melinda Monroe. “We don’t just help in situations where the baby is ill or facing other direct challenges,” she explains. “Sometimes, referrals are made out of concern for mom.” Women may be referred because of medical complications such as hypertension or depression, or they may come to the organization for other help. “We see a lot of women who are dealing with isolation,” Monroe adds. “They don’t have a natural, familial support system, and we help address those needs.”
NFN’s highly trained nurses, community health workers and licensed clinical social workers support the complex needs of families. Women are encouraged to seek support as early as possible. “Pregnancy is a critical time for the health of the baby,” Monroe says. “Support also is key to combating maternal mortality. It’s important to make sure mom is as healthy as possible.” NFN helps connect expectant mothers with prenatal health care, screens for physical and mental health concerns, offers guidance about breastfeeding, and helps with planning for delivery. Families also are given information to help them prepare for the first few days after the baby arrives home.
After delivery, the program offers home visits from nurses who specialize in mother-baby health. They perform health assessments, prepare a plan of action with the baby’s caregiver, and support the parents for up to two years after the child’s birth. The support for mothers doesn’t stop either. Health screenings continue, and nurses can help the family access resources when needed. “Delivery or a C-section is draining even without a newborn around, but we often see that mom becomes immersed in the care of her baby and forgets to think about herself,” Monroe notes. “To help with recovery, we make sure her health is being attended to while helping her feel confident in her new role.”
NFN supports families in 20 counties in Missouri. Currently, several communities have a wait list for services. Such a demand makes the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser, A Night for Newborns, even more important this year. “The funds directly help us ensure that all families referred to us can receive services,” Monroe says. “The event supports nursing work where it’s needed most.” The gala will be held Feb. 29 at The Sheldon. David and Thelma Steward are honorary event chairs, and the Steward Family Foundation and World Wide Technology are presenting sponsors. Monroe says it will be a lively evening of auctions, music and dancing.
Nurses for Newborns provides a safety net for families to prevent infant mortality, child abuse and neglect by providing in-home nursing visits. Its annual ‘A Night for Newborns’ auction and gala will be held Feb. 29 at The Sheldon. Pictured on the cover: Sharron Prather; Jennifer Crowell, R.N., BSN; Teri Murray, Ph.D., PHNA-BC, R.N., FAAN; Ken Worland; Linda Dougherty. For more information, call 314.544.3433 or visit nursesfornewborns.org.
Cover design by Julie Streiler | Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography
Pictured at top: Gwen Stubblefield, R.N., MSN, and board president Linda Dougherty
Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography