Help For First-Time Moms

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Pregnancy and childbirth are two experiences that can lead to many questions for parents, especially for first-timers. Some moms ask their own mothers.  Others seek help from friends.  But there's a program in Central Pennsylvania giving some first-time moms their own visiting nurse to help see them through.

We got the chance to meet 5-month-old Travion, who seems like he really wants to start crawling.  Notice his hip hair-do?  His mom, 22-year-old Cheyenne Arnold of Mifflinburg, is studying cosmetology and hopes to open her own salon someday.  She first heard about Nurse-Family Partnership at her doctor's office, when she found out she was pregnant.

"One midwife asked me if I knew about the program. I had no idea what it was. She handed me a pamphlet," Cheyenne remembers.

Nurse-Family Partnership is a program that connects visiting registered nurses with first-time expectant mothers, defined as low-income or at-risk by their doctors, or in some cases, other agencies.  The idea is to give the moms a relationship they can count on, not to mention medically-backed advice available anytime.

"It's a first-time mom (program).  Our youngest mom was 13, our oldest was 42," said Chris Hayes, Cheyenne's nurse.

She has been with her since early in her pregnancy, visiting weekly or bi-weekly depending on her needs.   She put together a binder full of information with chapters for each stage of pregnancy and baby development.   Cheyenne says it's been a life-saver, because she's had a lot of questions along the way.

"Like, the breastfeeding, if it hurt or how long it would take. And what I could do to stay healthy, to eat," Cheyenne said.

Chris will continue the regular visits until Travion is 2-years old, watching for all of his milestones, and helping Cheyenne develop all the skills she'll need as her baby grows.

"Cheyenne is a great mom. And Travion is a wonderful baby. So it's lots of fun to come and visit and see all the new things he's learning," Chris told us.

Nurse-Family Partnership is a nationwide program available through various community organizations.  In this case, it's offered through Columbia-Montour Home Health & Hospice Services, which merged into Geisinger Health System two years ago.