After pregnancy, it’s important for a woman to take care of herself.
The health of a woman’s pregnancy ends with a postpartum visit to her doctor four to six weeks after delivery. Every woman, every pregnancy, and every delivery is different; therefore, every recovery is different. The purpose fo the visit is to assess her physical recovery, see how she is doing emotionally, address breastfeeding concerns, ensure she is taking a multivitamin with folate and address her future contraceptive needs.
The postpartum check-up is a good time to determine if a woman can resume all normal activities, such as exercise, sexual intercourse, or work outside the home. It is also the best time to get any health conditions discovered during pregnancy, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, treated and under control. The postpartum visit is the first step to ensuring women are healthy BETWEEN pregnancies.
It is important for a woman to give her body time to recover after birth and time to adjust to being a mother of a newborn before becoming pregnant again. After delivery it is time for a woman to make a decision about birth control. It is best to wait at least one year between pregnancies to have another baby.
For more than a decade, Karen Smithson served as project director for Hold Out the Lifeline, a community-based initiative that engaged local churches in efforts to reduce black infant mortality. One of the signature programs of this initiative was Project Moses. Karen and her mother organized church women who crafted bassinets and provided education to needy families on the importance of safe sleep practices for newborns. Sleep-related deaths are the leading cause of preventable infant mortality and disproportionately affect the black community in Jacksonville. Hundreds of bassinets were distributed each year through this program and sleep-related deaths decreased during its implementation.
The Karen Y. Smithson Memorial Fund – Cribs for Kids has been established through Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies of North Florida, Inc. to honor Karen’s memory and life’s work. Proceeds from the fund will be used to purchase cribs and provide education to needy families who reside in Health Zone 1 in Jacksonville, Florida through the national Cribs for Kids program.
Donations can be sent to The Karen Y. Smithson Memorial Fund – Cribs for Kids, c/o Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies of North Florida, Inc., 5991 Chester Avenue, Suite 107, Jacksonville, FL 32217. Contributions are tax-deductible. For more information, visit www.healthybabiesjacksonville.org.
Find out more about Karen’s work here.
Hasani Davis and Dereamius Townsend-Foster are members of the first class of 4Me Teen Health Project Teen Ambassadors. They graduated the 4Me teen education series and completed a six-month Teen Leadership Council at their sites. They have spent the last year participating in regional activities, skillbuilding and developing into peer educators. They share their role in preventing infant mortality:
Dereamius: My role as a Teen Ambassador is to influence my peers in a positive way. I serve as a role model to all and help bring attention to social problems such as unsafe sex. #2- I chose to be apart of this program to better myself as an individual to give back to my community.
Dereamius and Hasani will join four other Teen Ambassadors today for their graduation celebration. The Ambassadors have attended Florida Children’s Week in Tallahassee, participated in clean-ups across the region, walked in the 2014 March for Babies, worked on updating a teen resource guide and more since last September.
Hasani: An ambassador leader is a person who is responsible and that takes courage. A lot of teenagers everyday are catching diseases and dying because they are not using condoms. As a teen ambassador leader, I choose not to engage in sex until marriage.
Rev. Alton Coles is a long-time member of the Healthy Start Coalition Board of Directors and currently holds the position of Vice Chair. He represents the AME Ministers Alliance. He shares his role in preventing infant mortality:
Rev. Coles identifies his care for the health of all people and desire to educate on improved lifestyles and behaviors as his reason for involvement with the Coalition’s Board of Directors. He has been involved with numerous Coalition and other health initiatives throughout the region.
Rev. Coles participated in a local Community Research Advisory Board and worked with the Mayo Clinic on an initiative to increase African American participation in cancer research. He also helped bring a Vitamin D screening and education event to the Magnolia and Azalea projects.
Beyond his officer position, he was the long-time chair of the Coalition’s Florida KidCare Steering Committee, focused on guiding outreach activities and spreading the word about the children’s health insurance program.
But Rev. Coles sees the Coalition’s greatest success as being more inclusive of men and dads in the goals of Healthy Start. Rev. Coles has advocated for establishing and growing the Coalition’s Responsible Fatherhood program and including fathers and father figures as a key component of Coalition services.
The community came together on September 13 to bring awareness to infant mortality at the inaugural Jacksonville Baby Buggy Walk in the Park.
The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition hosted the city’s first annual walk along with cities across the country in honor of National Infant Mortality Awareness month. The event emphasizes the important role of parents and the community as a whole in preventing infant deaths and promoting health birth outcomes, particularly in minority communities.
Event-goers participated in a health festival and 2.2 mile fitness walk at the Magnolia Project, a federal Healthy Start program in the Jacksonville urban core aimed at improving the health of women prior to pregnancy. The free family event provided an opportunity for families to come together for exercise and fun activities, receive valuable health information and screenings and enjoy a fun day in the park.
Moms and dads were pushing babies in their buggies and community members walked in honor of babies that died and to celebrate the babies that made it to their first birthday. After the walk, attendees had an opportunity to speak with various vendors whose focus was on healthy lifestyle and eating. Children who attended were able to listen to a story from a local storyteller from the public library, get their face painted and play arts/crafts. To wrap up the day, participants had the opportunity to participate in a Zumba demonstration.
The Baby Buggy Walk is a unique event that was developed in 2012 by Baltimore Healthy Start, Inc. with a goal of empowering women of the reproductive age and mothers to take care of their health and the health of their children through education with a theme of fitness, fun, and family.
The Coalition would like to give a big thanks to our generous sponsors and donors; community leaders, volunteers and everyone who came out and made the event a success! A special thanks from the support of our local legislators for speaking on the importance of the event. Speakers included Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Senator Audrey Gibson and Representative Mia Jones.