New Beginnings gives infants the right start
Supporting Island families -
Sarah McKenna of Sherwood brought her infant daughter Emma home from the hospital on January 3. It was her first child and she had some questions about what to expect about vaccination and breastfeeding.
Until newborns arrive with an instruction manual, there’s the New Beginnings program -- which helped more than 1,300 new moms like McKenna on Prince Edward Island last year.
“It was so nice to learn those supports were there," said McKenna, 30. "They called and came to visit the next morning."
Offered through Health PEI’s public health nursing division, New Beginnings supports new families from hospital discharge through the first eight weeks. This is when questions arise such as “is my baby getting enough milk?”, “how often should my baby be waking/sleeping?”, and “what can I expect about my own health following the birth of my baby?”
“Families often don’t anticipate what questions or challenges they will have until they are home with their new baby,” said Diane Boswall, maternal child clinical specialist with public health nursing. “It’s important for families to have support at home in their own surroundings.”
New Beginnings was introduced to give the province consistent, updated practices and policies for new Island families. It was based on a similar program in British Columbia.
“We recognized we needed to update our evidence-based tools for sharing of important health information from the hospital to community for continuity of care, and for assessment and follow-up in the community” Boswall explained.
Research shows that home visits help the safe transition from hospital to home. As a result, through New Beginnings about 35 public health nurses are available across the province to provide ongoing support – through phone calls and follow-up in the home.
The nurses visit families on the mother-baby units at the Prince County and Queen Elizabeth hospitals on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Then the nurses follow up with a phone call one to two days after mom and baby leave the hospital to find out if the baby is feeding well, among other things.
Families can have a public health nurse visit their home to complete a health assessment for both mother and baby. Health promotion, education, and follow-up are provided as needed as well as referrals to other programs and services.
Public Health Nurses across the province are available to support families as they embark on their "New Beginning." Sarah is one of them.
“I had researched so much beforehand," she said, "but it helped to talk to a real person.”
For more information on New Beginnings visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-pei/public-health-nursing.