Phoebe NFP nurses develop strong bonds with first-time moms

Feb. 21—ALBANY — When Jenaye Green found out she was pregnant in November 2021, she was shocked, anxious and more than a little worried.

"I just sat there and pondered for about 24 hours," she said.

As a first-time mom without a stable career, Green was concerned she didn't have the knowledge or resources she would need to raise a healthy and happy baby. Thankfully, she learned about Phoebe's Nurse-Family Partnership from a cousin who had taken advantage of the program. Once Green discovered she qualified, she signed up and was matched with Tiara Noel, one of four specially-trained NFP nurses at Phoebe. Noel became — and remains — a lifeline for Green.

"I probably would have had a horrible labor and delivery because I wouldn't have known what to do," Green said. "I probably would've had post-partem anxiety. I would've depended on Google to figure out what to do. Without their resources, I wouldn't have been able to be the mother that I am."

Noel helped guide Green through her pregnancy, ensuring she got the proper prenatal care and was prepared for the delivery and her new life as a mother.

"I had an all-natural birth with no medication," Green said. "She gave me everything I needed to get through my delivery. Thanks to her, I was prepared. I wrote out a whole birthing plan, and I knew what was going to happen."

On July 14, 2022, Jenaye gave birth to her beautiful daughter, Jai. But that wasn't the end of her relationship with Noel. NFP nurses stick with mothers in the program for two years after their babies are born, meeting with them weekly for six weeks and then every other week after that, though moms who need more support will get it.

Noel prepared Green for breastfeeding. She made sure Jai got proper treatment when she developed eczema. And she was there for the new family when Jai was hospitalized with respiratory syncytial virus.

"Tiara stepped in and helped me out a whole lot, because I was very afraid," Green said. "She reassured me the whole time that everything was okay. She even brought me some snacks and baby clothes because we had to go straight to the hospital from the doctor's office, so I didn't have anything I needed."

Phoebe's NFP nurses have developed that kind of strong bond with more than 40 first-time moms since the program began in August 2021, and Phoebe officials say the hospital hopes to expand the program to serve 75 women.

"Our nurses are a resource and a support system for so long that, honestly, they become like family members," Phoebe NFP Supervisor RN Karen Hills said. "The dads and grandparents get to know them. The families can call us whenever they need something. They're linked so closely, and that's the kind of relationship we want with them."

Nurse-Family Partnership is a national community health program that empowers first-time moms to transform their lives and create better futures for themselves and their babies. The nonprofit organization works with partners in more than 40 states. Phoebe's is one of just two NFP programs in Georgia. Multiple studies have shown participation in the program decreases the chances of preterm deliveries, improves health outcomes, reduces child abuse and neglect, and helps avoid behavioral and intellectual problems through childhood.

"Our goal is to improve the lives of families, especially families who are considered at high risk for health disparities," Hills said. "Our support reduces those disparities and helps achieve better health and social outcomes."

The program even helps mothers become more financially secure. Green's nurse partner helped her apply for jobs and for benefits through Medicaid and Georgia's Women, Infant and Children program.

"She helped me with my finances," Green said. "She motivated me to continue to apply for jobs that would work with my baby's schedule. I have a budget plan now."

She also has a good job as a family sales coordinator for a cemetery.

To qualify for Phoebe's NFP, women must be pregnant with their first child at no more than 28 weeks gestation and be eligible for WIC. Mothers-to-be can learn more about the NFP by calling Phoebe's Network of Trust at (229) 312-4620. They can also apply for the program and learn about other resources that support new moms and babies at Phoebe's first Maternity Expo.

Phoebe and the Nurse-Family Partnership are teaming up with CareSource to put on the expo Saturday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Albany State University West Campus.

"There are so many resources in our community for expectant parents," Hills said. "We're pooling them together in one location so parents can see what's available to them. We'll share health advice and have education about breastfeeding and child care services, resources to prevent domestic violence, housing assistance, and even gifts and giveaways for dads. Everything will be in one place."

Green encouraged new parents and parents-to-be to attend the expo to learn about resources that can help them and their babies and said she she hopes any women who qualify for the NFP will sign up.

"I've referred several people to the program," she said. "It's really needed, and it's really appreciated. Those women are in love with it."

Thanks largely to the support she got through Phoebe's NFP, Green said the initial apprehension she felt about motherhood, is long gone.

"Jai is a very sweet, funny baby," the new mom said. "She has a big personality, and she wakes up laughing and playing. It's great to watch her grow. She's a happy baby, and I'm a happy mom."