By Monica Figueroa King, CEO, Broward Healthy Start Coalition
Our children are our future and our community is healthy when our children are healthy. This begins with the health of women who become pregnant and men who become fathers. Our Maternal Child Health system supported by the Broward Healthy Start Coalition and its partners is committed to promoting health and well-being to achieve successful pregnancies and a healthy start in life.
Having a healthy pregnancy begins before a woman even becomes pregnant. It starts in childhood and adolescence. This means eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep and exercise, and learning about living a healthy lifestyle. It means getting tested for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections, not smoking or vaping, and not using drugs or alcohol.
Healthy Eating – East Breakfast, Eat Fruits, Vegetables, Drink Water
Sleep Well – Make a routine and stick with it
Exercise – Physical activity every day for at least 30 minutes
Medical Care – Get your annual well check, get tested
No Drugs – No Vaping, No Smoking, No Drinking, No Substances
Once a woman becomes pregnant, it is important to attend prenatal visits, eat healthy foods and snacks, reduce stress, and have a support system.
It’s important that pregnant women carry their babies to full term. We want those babies to have a Healthy Start in Life in order to have a Healthy Life. Babies who are born too early (before 37 weeks) are at increased risk to die within the first year of their life and if they survive that first year are vulnerable to developing other conditions, such as cerebral palsy and heart conditions. In Broward County, Black babies are 1.5 times more likely to be born premature than White babies. The March of Dimes The Maternal Child Health system works to ensure that pregnant women have access to quality prenatal care and education.
After a baby is born, parenting support is provided to the mother and father as well as other family members. Women are encouraged to wait at least 18 months before getting pregnant again to reduce the stress on her body.
There are many opportunities to get involved in the Maternal Child Health system of care. If you are pregnant or a new parent, you can attend one of our Showers2Empower, held throughout the year. You can receive breastfeeding support through our Breastfeeding Coalition. We also offer opportunities for testing for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections and we help parents bond with their new babies and reduce postpartum stress and depression. You can learn car seat safety, drowning prevention, and safe sleep practices.
The CONNECT program administered by the Broward Healthy Start Coalition helps to connect pregnant women and parents to resources and services in the community. This is an important time in a family’s life and we can help our babies get a healthy start in life by taking care of ourselves before, during, and after pregnancy. For Connect, please call 954-567-7174.
Together we can create a healthier Broward County for our children and generations to come.
If you would like more information or would like to get involved, please contact the Broward Healthy Start Coalition at (954) 563-7583.
Broward Healthy Start Coalition, Inc. is the leader in Maternal and Child Health policy and programming in Broward County. The primary goals of Broward Healthy Start Coalition are to reduce fetal and infant mortality and morbidity, reduce the number of low birth weight and preterm births and improve maternal and child health developmental outcomes. For more information, please go to http://www.browardhsc.org/.