Support and Resources for Young Expectant First-time Moms

Home Visiting NH

Being an expectant first-time mom is an exciting and often overwhelming experience. For young women emerging from their teen years who are pregnant for the first time, it can also be pretty frightening. Having someone to talk to who supports them, identifies resources and finds answers to questions can make a huge difference when it comes to having a secure and healthy pregnancy and preparing for motherhood.

Just ask Katie, who was young, homeless and pregnant when she was referred to Home Visiting New Hampshire (HVNH) a couple of years ago. HVNH is a program for women under 21 who are pregnant for the first time. In Belknap and southern Grafton counties, HVNH is coordinated by Lakes Region Community Services’ Family Resource Center of Central New Hampshire.

The goal of HVNH is not only to support healthy pregnancies and good birth outcomes, but also to support a young family in reaching goals in life beyond the birth of the child. The program provides health education, support and guidance. Over the course of the first few visits, Katie began talking about her goals for her pregnancy and her vision for her life moving forward.

Katie’s Family Support Specialist supported her every step along the way. Katie established a medical home and kept her appointments. She registered for WIC and took prenatal classes. She completed “homework” on maternal bonding, successfully secured employment, rented a home, purchased a car and had a healthy pregnancy. Katie’s Family Support Specialist even worked with her through the challenges of discovering that her infant had a rare milk allergy and finding the right doctors to treat her baby’s condition.

“There are so many resources in the community available to young, expecting new moms,” said Family Support Specialist Katherine Peringer. “Whether they want to quit smoking, find the right medical care, need financial help, or just want to learn some parenting basics, HVNH can connect them with whatever they are looking for.” Information on a myriad of topics including developmental milestones, nutrition, breast feeding, early childhood programs, substance abuse & addiction issues and more are available to expectant mothers.

Young women in the program typically receive several visits from their Family Support Specialist in collaboration with prenatal nurse visits before their baby is born. After the birth, the Family Support Specialist makes ongoing weekly visits and nurse visits within the first couple weeks after the baby is home.  An Early Supports & Services Educator will also visit on an as needed basis to ensure the baby’s development is on track. The Family Support Specialist visits mom and baby until the baby’s first birthday, spending quality time with the family to promote healthy development and nurturing interaction.

Referrals to the HVNH program can come from a variety of sources including school nurses, physicians, law enforcement, churches and other community organizations. For more information about HVNH, contact the Family Resource Center at 581-1560.