Becoming a parent for the first time is a transformational experience. Our roles, relationships and priorities are quickly rearranged when our first child enters the world. Having the support of family and friends is important during this time, and in Centre County, help is also available through the Nurse-Family Partnership program.
Nurse-Family Partnership is a national, evidence-based program that provides a free, personal registered nurse for first – time pregnant mothers. The nurse visits with the family, and listening carefully, provides education and support, according to the family’s needs. The goals of Nurse – Family Partnership are a healthy pregnancy, healthy child development and a positive life course development. During visits, nurses bring information on topics that the family chooses, which are discussed in a comfortable, conversational style. Visits can be in – person, or through telehealth.
“One of my favorite things about working in this program is that is it client-driven, allowing me to bring the information a woman wants,” shares Tammy Hughes, RN, CLC who has worked in the program for 17 years. “One visit she may want to talk about breastfeeding; another about what life will be like after the baby comes.” In addition to education, nurses also assess the mother’s health including blood pressure checks and listening to the baby’s heartbeat.
Fortunately, the program doesn’t end with the baby’s delivery, as parents often have many questions during the postpartum period. Nursing visits can continue until age two, providing support through various stages of development, on a schedule of the family’s choosing. Early in the baby’s life, visits might include weighing the baby or answering questions about feeding and sleep. Later, topics often include child development, ideas for play activities or understanding toddler behavior. Alise Christie, BSN, RN, CLC notes “It is a privilege to be alongside families on this journey through pregnancy to toddlerhood and witness the transformation. When a child is born, so is a parent.”
While NFP was developed to target mothers, the program welcomes fathers, partners, family members and close friends, to participate. “I believe one thing that makes our program strong is the relationship we develop with families,” says, Patricia Doty, MSN, RN. “We get to know each other very well during the two and half years we visit.”
A cornerstone of Nurse-Family Partnership is the extensive research conducted on the model over the last three decades. Randomized, controlled studies have shown consistent positive effects in improved prenatal health, fewer childhood injuries and improved school readiness. In addition to demonstrated benefits, Nurse-Family Partnership has also been shown to be a cost-saving program in analyses by the Rand Corporation and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. Nurse-Family Partnership has served more than 37,000 families in 50 counties in Pennsylvania since 1999 and currently serves clients in 42 states. UPMC Home Healthcare of Central PA, a not-for-profit provider of home healthcare, hospice, and community- based services, has been proud to provide the Nurse-Family Partnership program in Centre County since 2004. Additional information can be obtained at https://www.nursefamilypartnership.org/locations/pennsylvania/, http://www.homenursingagency.com, www.nursefamilypartnership.org, or at 800-445-6262.