Nurse Family Partnership launched in Detroit to help low income mothers

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Sadly, the infant and maternal rate is higher in Detroit than in other cities in our state and across the country. But a new collaboration is looking got bring those numbers down by launching a home visiting program that pairs nurses with first time mothers. 

"When I first found out I was having a baby I felt very lost, I didn't know what to do," Shar Fuquay said.  

Most women have felt just like Shar Fuquay after learning they are they are pregnant with their first child.
it can be exciting, but there are also many questions about the unknown.

I was going through a period in my life where I was having this baby I am nervous and scared, but what does this look like for me," Fuquay said.

Sadly, studies show 13 out of every thousand babies born in Detroit die before their first birthday, that's almost twice the rate in the rest of the state.

The issue of infant mortality is also linked to maternal mortality. African American women - regardless of their socio-economic status are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy related complications compared to a white woman.

"I know what it is like to need support and to need someone to give you guidance talk about your health concerns where you can get resources, where and who you can talk to, I didn't have that," Chy Johnson said.

Knowing the need, Chy Johnson, who is from Starfish Family Services - is working with nurse family partnership to launch an expanded program in Detroit to help provide those resources and bring the mortality rates down.

Specially trained nurses regularly visit first time low income moms in Detroit - starting in early pregnancy and continuing through the child's 2nd birthday.

Melissa Klein is a supervising nurse with NFP.  

"The first thing we do is develop a therapeutic and trusting relationship with mom," Klein said. 

From there they provide prenatal support, regularly visiting during the pregnancy. Once the baby is born, they help with everything from breastfeeding to putting your child to bed.

"Establishing routines, so a young woman has yet to really establish that in her life so we try to help her recognize the importance of that and we'll work on that visit by visit and building up a routine with her and the importance of building that with her baby so they can sync up and find that peace," Klein said. 

"Help me latch my baby on because he was not eating he was literally feeding him through a syringe so she was able to meet me where I was at to help me feed my child. No matter where you come from or whatever experiences you have in life you need help as a mother," Fuquay said. 

Shar is one of the success stories - she is now a mother of two young healthy children. She was so inspired by her nurse she became a mid-wife and has even started her own nonprofit.

For Chy, whose children are now grown, she knows the statistics aren't going to change overnight, but she's hopeful, since Detroit moms have somewhere else to turn.

"I lived it, in living that I want to make sure there are resources to moms that are like me," she said. 

The program starts September 23. It's a free program, you just have to qualify. For more information call 1-833-NFP-BABY.