Forging a trusting relationship with VNA’s Parenting Support services
Visiting Nurse Association’s (VNA’s) Parenting Support services offer four voluntary home visitation programs for mothers and children. This is Belle’s story.
Providing a network of support
Belle, an 18-year-old high school student, enrolled in VNA’s Love & Learn program during the third trimester of her first pregnancy. She lived with her boyfriend, who was the soon-to-be father, and his family.
Belle actively participated in telehealth visits with both her VNA nurse and parent coach. The nurse provided education about having a healthy pregnancy, fetal development, physical and emotional changes during pregnancy, the labor and birth experience, the importance of keeping her prenatal and medical appointments, and COVID-19 safety.
During her pregnancy, Belle met with VNA’s lactation consultant to prepare for breastfeeding. She gave birth to a full-term, healthy baby boy named Carl. When Belle shared that she was having challenges with breastfeeding, the VNA lactation consultant provided telehealth and in-person visits to assist and encourage her. She successfully breastfed Carl for almost three months.
Belle was eager to learn about her pregnancy and how to care for her baby through the Love & Learn program’s Growing Great Kids™ parenting curriculum and additional information shared by her parent coach and nurse. She expressed interest in learning strategies to positively impact her son’s development and interact with him. With their encouragement, Belle and Carl practiced tummy time, spent time reading together and enjoyed other development-focused activities. After each of Carl’s developmental screenings, she was so proud to see that he was achieving all his milestones.
Working through challenges
When Carl was just over a year old, Belle contacted her nurse about some gastrointestinal issues he was experiencing. Her nurse urged her to contact the baby’s pediatrician, who directed Belle to take him to the emergency room. Tests revealed that Carl developed a rare intestinal condition that required immediate surgery. Belle was incredibly thankful that her VNA nurse listened to her concerns and encouraged her to seek care.
Belle loved being a parent, but it was difficult to manage while being a high school student and working full time. She studied hard to pass her classes but was concerned she wouldn’t graduate on time. Although her school provided a computer with Wi-Fi, the signal was not strong enough in Belle’s neighborhood. She often felt disconnected and missed online classes.
Belle recognized that passing her classes and receiving her high school diploma meant the ability to provide a better life for her son. When Belle learned that she would not graduate, she went through a period of depression, stating she felt overwhelmed and like she could not keep going. Her nurse assessed her safety, and Belle denied any thoughts or plans for self-harm. Her nurse called Belle’s healthcare provider, and they worked together to secure a therapist.
Belle found therapy helpful in dealing with her depression, and after discussing options with her nurse and parent coach, she decided to continue to take the classes she needed to graduate. She attended summer school, passed her classes and graduated at the end of the summer.
A path forward
After graduation, Belle secured a higher-paying job with better hours. She was offered on-the-job training for a certification that would give her skills in a field with lots of opportunities. During her last visit with her nurse and parent coach, Belle expressed feeling happy and proud of her accomplishments and thanked them. Although she has a busy life, Belle wants to stay in the Love & Learn program to continue learning about her son’s development.
“Belle is determined, she knows what she wants and will work hard to accomplish her goals,” said Belle’s nurse and parent coach. “She faced many challenges in completing her high school education, but she persisted because she knew it was important to better provide for Carl. She is a dedicated mom who is very connected to her son.”
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