Prenatal Plus – Helping At-Risk Women Navigate Pregnancy
Juanita was determined that her unborn child would enter the world healthy so, when she discovered she was pregnant, she made the difficult decision to stop taking the medications used to control her mental health disorder. It was not long before the symptoms of her mental health disorder began to re-emerge.
While her family and the baby’s father were concerned about her increasing symptoms, they had little understanding of her mental disorder or the dangers both Juanita and her unborn baby faced and they felt helpless.
That is when the team – a nurse, therapist and nutritionist – with the Prenatal Plus program stepped in to help Juanita find ways to manage the symptoms of her mental disorder without medication, ensure that she and her unborn baby remained healthy, and help her family understand how they could support her.
The Center for Family Services therapist immediately saw that Juanita was having difficulty managing her increasing mental health disorder symptoms as well as her growing concerns about her unborn baby and her ability to parent. The Prenatal Plus therapist met with Juanita and her family and together they worked out ways to help Juanita cope with her mental health issues. They also discussed how her family could be supportive after the baby was born and to ensure the baby’s father would have the opportunity to be involved in the baby’s life. The therapist linked Juanita with the agency’s psychiatrist so she could resume her medication after the baby’s birth, and the nurse and nutritionist worked with her on ensuring that she maintained her physical health during pregnancy.
Despite the challenges Juanita faced, with the ongoing support of the Prenatal Plus team, her baby was born healthy, her family has a better understanding of her mental health challenges, and the baby’s father is part of her life. Most importantly, the team helped Juanita gain confidence in her parenting abilities and she was able to bond with her new baby, setting a foundation for a life-long, loving parent-child relationship.
This home-based program, serving at-risk pregnant women, is funded by the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County. It provides a team of professionals, including a mental health therapist, nurse and nutritionist to help at risk pregnant women have full term healthy babies. The team provides support during the pregnancy and follows up after the birth to ensure the health and well-being of mother and child. They also provide referrals to other community resources as needed. There are no income guidelines to receive the Prenatal Plus services.
The Prenatal Plus program serves some 150 pregnant women with mental health services annually.