Pregnancy Support Program Receives Local Grant
The IRC has been awarded $5,000 from the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund to ensure that newly resettled refugees are supported through pregnancy and birth. The grant will benefit IRC’s Pregnancy Support Program which provides linguistically and culturally appropriate education, support, and referrals to ensure that refugee women’s first birth experience in the U.S. is a healthy one. Begun in 2008, the Pregnancy Support Program has grown as the number of expectant refugees has increased, from 22 in 2008 to 74 in 2011.
Upon arrival in Baltimore, refugees face a new set of challenges as they try to navigate the US healthcare system and access services. In particular, pregnant refugee women encounter a number of challenges when trying to access reproductive healthcare, such as language barriers and a lack of awareness or understanding of the medical services that are available to them. Traditionally, many refugee women would have been supported through their pregnancy by their mothers or other female family members, and most find themselves in the U.S. without those traditional support networks, facing a very different birth experience--imagine experiencing labor while connected to sophisticated monitoring equipment, when your last baby was delivered in your rural home by a village elder.
To address these challenges, IRC’s Public Health staff meets with each woman to create a healthy pregnancy plan, ensure that she is accessing regular prenatal care with a culturally competent provider, and help each family prepare for the arrival of the new baby by securing supplies and by connecting them with the necessary support services. Based on the assessment, women receive prenatal care coordination and education, including assistance with securing health insurance, selecting an obstetrician and delivery hospital, scheduling medical appointments, enrolling in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and accessing low cost/no cost community resources and services, such as birthing center tours, baby clothes, cribs and car seats. Prenatal education is initiated through the individual client assessments, and is reinforced through a pregnancy workshop series facilitated in partnership with Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing Birth Companions Program.