Help for Young Moms
Though I don’t remember the exact dates or times, at some points during my first six months of motherhood, I needed to ask for help. Granted, I had great support from my husband when he could get away from work, and my own mom, siblings, aunts and uncles were just a phone call and half a day’s drive away in case of emergencies of the physical or emotional kind. Nevertheless, I remember facing afternoons when I felt alone and overwhelmed by the tremendous responsibility of taking care of a precious, delicate infant.
Specifically, I remember moments of fear and doubt. Moments of needing someone to talk to, someone who would understand and empathize with what I was feeling.
It was in one of these moments that I first met Nicole English, program coordinator of Save Our Babies and Pathways for Young Moms at the Metropolitan Tulsa Urban League. I called her to simply ask about her support groups for new moms. I found out that they offer so much more.
English emphasizes that her primary mission is improving the health and quality of life of pregnant women and new mothers with infants. Save Our Babies and Pathways for Young Moms further that mission by providing classes, activities and events to help moms, especially first-time and teenage moms, improve their parenting skills while taking good care of their own physical, mental and emotional health.
As a mom of three sons, Kensington (9), Kyle (12), and Kurt (17), English was drawn to the hands-on, face-to-face support that Save Our Babies has offered to moms needing someone to talk to since the program’s inception in 1991.
“I understand how a mom feels,” English said. “Just to vent can be a gift in itself.”
Many of the young moms English works with have experienced unplanned pregnancies and feel completely unprepared for raising a child. English tells those moms, “You have something to offer, but you have to be willing to get the help you need.”
English and Charissa Tottress, the Save Our Babies case manager, provide that help every step of the way. During pregnancy, they talk with mothers in group settings about healthy nutrition, exercise and the importance of early and frequent prenatal care. They also talk about preventing future unplanned pregnancies and STDs.
To help fight the incidence of infant mortality and other negative birth outcomes, English and Tottress talk with moms about folic acid supplementation, and they bring in community experts to promote drug and alcohol abuse prevention and smoking cessation.
Then there’s the fun stuff. English creates and delivers gift baskets of baby care supplies to families in the delivery rooms of local hospitals. Moms get together to learn handy new skills such as baby massage techniques, knitting and cooking. There is even an end-of-the-year celebration. This year’s celebration featured motivational speakers Kim Jackson from KTUL News Channel 8 and James Murrell.
About 150 to 200 women participate in Save Our Babies and Pathways for Young Moms each year, and English wants that number to grow. English is also looking for moms who “have a heart for helping people” and want to contribute to the program as mentors and supporters. Certainly, not every mom will need every service that Save Our Babies and Pathways for Young Moms provides, yet there is something for all moms there—even if it’s simply friendly companionship and an ear to listen.
For more information on Save Our Babies and Pathways for Young Moms at the Metropolitan Tulsa Urban League (240 E. Apache), call 918.584.0001 or visit www.mtul.org.