Good help for young mothers

Marion County is fortunate to have a number of programs and services available to offer pregnant women and young mothers, says Sondra Mayfield, Marion County Healthy Start home visitor.

“Compared to other rural counties, we are blessed in Marion County to offer as much as we do to young mothers,” Mayfield said.

As Healthy Start home visitor, Mayfield visits pregnant women and new mothers all over the county. It is her job to let them know the services and programs Marion County has to offer them

Marion County promotes numerous services and helpful resources, including Parents as Teachers Program, Main Street Ministries and the Pregnancy Care Center in Newton.

A Playgroup for children from birth to 3 years of age meets weekly to allow young children to learn how to play with others, and Tamara Blake, the educator, also teaches new moms fun learning games and activities to play with their children at home.

“It is a great time for new moms to get together,” Mayfield said. “When you are home with the children every day, sometimes you get lonely for adult conversation.”

Hillsboro has Mothers of Preschoolers, a program for pre-school children that has a large attendance. This program also works with mothers to help them with fun things to do at home.

Another program Mayfield often uses-and considers a great asset to the county-is the Early Childhood Intervention program under the directorship of Debbi Darrow.

“She is great to work with,” Mayfield said. “When we call a referral, she is on the phone that day.”

The program screens and tests young children to identify potential problem areas for children before they reach school age.

“The Pregnancy Care Center in Newton is a great resource,” she said. “It is close enough to send women, and they offer a variety of services and help with counseling and adoption considerations.”

Mayfield credits Marion County Heath Nurse Jan Moffitt for allowing her to build the healthy start programs and to bring in new material and programs as she learns about them from other counties.

Once Mayfield receives a reference from a doctor, the hospital or a friend, she will call the woman for an appointment. She said she’s even been known to stop pregnant women on the street and ask their names.

“Then I go out with some literature and just visit to see how the county can help,” Mayfield said. “Some moms-to-be have lots of family support and don’t really need our services, but there are others whose family lives far away, or the support just isn’t there.”

“Then, when I see a need-if we have the resources-I try to get them all together.”

When Mayfield finds there are older siblings, she says she makes sure to take a small gift for them.

“I always, always take something for the older children. We don’t want them to feel left out,” she said.

Last year, Mayfield, who started her position in the spring, saw 125 pregnant and new mothers. This year she has already made 58 visits.

The best part of her job, Mayfield said, is being with women through their pregnancy, and then right after the birth of their child.

“Whether she is 16 or 40, the new mom is so proud of her new baby,” Mayfield said. “For just a single moment, they are a different person. It is wonderful to be a part of that with them.”

And Mayfield said she loves trying to match needs with supplies. To her, finding the right resource for the right situation can be like a solving a puzzle.

Mayfield said the women not only use the resources offered, but share their resources as well.

“We have had women come in with boxes of diapers their baby has outgrown,” she said. “Instead of exchanging them, they bring them here for us to share with someone else. They are giving back into the program that helped them.”

Mayfield said the worst part of her job is making a visit and leaving the home knowing the new mother or mother-to-be doesn’t have a lot of support in place from family or friends.

“Sometimes a single mom is here alone without a lot of money, and it can be very rough.”

This brings up one concern of Mayfield’s.

“Sometimes I wonder if all the services we offer make things almost too easy,” she said. “It isn’t easy being a parent, and I wonder if we make it look altogether too easy and fun.”

She said there are young moms all over the country who don’t stop with one child, but often have another soon after the first.

“But I do love my job, meeting the people, the children, and I enjoy the people I work with,” Mayfield said. “They are the best.”

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