Almost a year into operation, Hartford HealthCare’s Healthy Beginnings program has made some changes designed to increase access for new parents.

Healthy Beginnings is part of Windham Hospital’s Women’s Health Center. It provides information and support directly to new moms, and includes home visits and connecting the women to resources that they might not even know about. The program is open to any mom who receives care at the Windham Women’s Health Center, no matter where they give birth.

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What is the Healthy Beginnings mission?

The goal of the program is to help establish healthy behaviors and community connections while fostering a feeling of connectedness during the postpartum period that can be lonely for a new mom. In its first 10 months, it saw 24 mothers and babies.

“Our number one goal is to empower women, educate them, and get them the services they need,” said Community Health nurse Michele Brezniak. “The community connections we help them create last a lifetime. It takes a village like they say, and we’re here to be your village.”

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Making contact early

When it was launched, the program didn’t start until after the baby was born. What they discovered, Brezniak said, was that those connections needed to be made during pregnancy. Once the baby was born, the new mom or parents were too preoccupied and tired.

“Now, contact is made during a prenatal visit at the Women’s Health Center,” Brezniak said. “Myself and our social worker go to one of their appointments and go over everything and make sure they are connected to all the services before they have the baby. This way they have time to get everything done.”

Since the change was made two weeks ago, the program has already enrolled five mothers-to-be, and Brezniak has a stack of papers on her desk to process.

“Now, they will have relationships with services before they have the baby,” she said. “They will go into parenthood fully supported. After the birth, we follow up to make sure they are still connected and figure out if they need anything more.

How Healthy Beginnings can help

Services covered in Health Beginnings include:

  • Healthy eating before and after birth.
  • The importance of sleep.
  • Postpartum depression.
  • Breastfeeding.
  • Poison prevention.
  • Water safety.
  • Finances.
  • Health insurance.
  • Housing.
  • Heating assistance.
  • Food assistance.
  • Diaper assistance.