“Every pregnant girl wants to be a good mom,” Marion County Healthy Start coordinator Sondra Mayfield said.
But it isn’t often that first-time mothers know all about their baby’s health and safety. So Mayfield works with expectant and new mothers to give them the knowledge they need and refer them to helpful services. Healthy Start is a program run by Marion County Health Department.
“Essentially, I find out what they need and point them in the right direction,” she said.
Topics of the Healthy Start program include nutrition, breastfeeding, car seats, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children – also known as WIC. Mayfield makes at least one prenatal and one post-birth visit with each participant, but she can meet with them weekly if needed.
Julie Pagenkopf of Lincolnville learned about Healthy Start by word-of-mouth, particularly from her mother-in-law, Marcia Pagenkopf of Lost Springs. She got involved in the program when she was six or seven months pregnant with now nearly 4-month-old Marlie.
“As much as a strong-willed, hard-working mom hates to admit it, sometimes that extra help is what you need,” Pagenkopf said. “I want the best for my daughter.”
The topic of her last visit was baby teeth.
“She’s teething right now, so that’s perfect timing,” Pagenkopf said.
She said she appreciates knowing more about Marlie’s health and development, and she would recommend Healthy Start to any first-time mother.
“I don’t think I would be managing as well as I am as a new mom without (Mayfield’s) advice,” she said.
Any woman who is pregnant or a new mother is eligible to participate in Healthy Start, and the program is free. For more information, contact Mayfield at Marion County Health Department at (620) 382-2550.