Meet Sharika

Sep 12, 2016  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

Sharika PasterSharika Paster is a second-time mom, but this time around she’s better equipped to eat healthy, breastfeed and more.

What’s made the difference? Sharika is enrolled in Healthy Start, a free and voluntary program that provides personalized services to make sure participants have a healthy pregnancy, baby and family.

Hear from Sharika herself about the Healthy Start benefits she has received:

Every Baby. Every Day. The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition and the Healthy Start program provide women and their families with the support and education they need to make sure every baby has a healthy start.

Safety over comfort

Sep 7, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

After a long busy day, dinner, and a nice warm shower, we all cannot wait to snuggle into our beds. We find our favorite pajamas to put on, the ones that hugs our bodies and cuddles us during the night. We lie down for a peaceful night’s rest.

Babies too, anticipate bedtime. They spend their days exploring the new world that they are now apart of, and after a new day’s adventure, nothing is more soothing for a baby than a good night of sleep. Unfortunately, many babies die from Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUIDs) due to complications during their sleep.

In 2014, twenty-four babies died from SUID in the Northeast Florida region alone. Duval county, which also accounted for the most births, had the highest infant mortality rate in the region. 8.8 deaths per 1000 live births, according to the annual FIMR findings.

SUIDs often times occur because of suffocation. Having too many items in your baby’s crib, co-sleeping, laying your baby on an extra soft surface or allowing your baby to sleep on their stomachs are just some factors that play a role is SUID.

But one factor that plays a huge role, and often times goes unthought-of, is the nightwear a baby wears to sleep. When deciding what pajamas to put your newborn in for the night, comfort should only be half of your concern; safety should be the other.

It’s important to dress babies in clothing that isn’t too loose. Dressing your baby in loose fitting nightwear increases their chances of suffocating during the night. Onesies are the best option for sleep. It is important to avoid clothing that can rise up towards your baby’s face, such as loose fitting shirts or sleep blankets equipped with connected hoods. Sleepwear made of cotton is always a better choice, because it is both soft and breathable, which helps controls your baby’s body temperature throughout the night.

It is also important to note the temperature of the room in which your baby is sleeping. If the temperature in the room is below 75°, add an extra layer to your baby, such as a shirt underneath their onesie or a hat and mittens to keep warm. If it is warm inside of the room, be sure to remove a few layers as overheating can lead to suffocation as well.


What can Healthy Start do for you?

  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

DaisyAre you pregnant or a new parent? Healthy Start is a free, voluntary program that provides personalized services to make sure you have a healthy pregnancy, baby and family!

Some of the Healthy Start benefits include:

  • Support: Individualized from a dedicated care coordinator
  • Parenting: Information for moms and dads
  • Smoking: Help quitting
  • Breastfeeding: Education and encouragement to help you succeed
  • Childbirth: Information to help you prepare
  • And More!

Enroll today to get all the perks! You can access Healthy Start services by talking to your OB provider during your prenatal care visits; enrolling during the birth registration process at your delivery hospital or center; or by calling us today to complete a self-referral. Call us today at 904.723.5422.

Infant Mortality Awareness Month 2016

Sep 1, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

Every year, many babies die from preventable causes and from a lack of health services. To shine a light on this issue, September has been honored as National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Many babies do not live to see their first birthday, but with the proper education and practices, together we can ensure that every baby has a healthy start.NIMAM_Logo_2016

This September the Healthy Start Coalition is celebrating EVERY BABY EVERY DAY.

On September 24, the Coalition will host the third annual Baby Buggy Walk in the Park at 10am at Friendship Fountain (1015 Museum Cir). The event will bring together families, staff and members of the community to participate in a two-mile walk, a health fair, reading corner, giveaways, a post-walk family celebration, a costume-and stroller-decorating contest and much more.

Throughout the month of September, our blog will feature guest posts, a behind the scenes look at the Coalition and other insights to encourage pregnant, postpartum women and their families to participate in healthy activities.

Be sure to follow us on our social media outlets, and join in on the conversation using the hashtag #EveryBabyEveryDay




It’s a tough job, and only a mother can do it!

Aug 2, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

A Mother’s Journey through Breastfeeding: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Written By: Samantha Thompson


Samantha and Baby Bryce

      When I was asked to write about my experiences with breastfeeding, I was honestly very excited!  I feel extremely accomplished in my seven-month journey and definitely have some stories to tell.  But when I sat down at my computer, I drew a blank.  Not a blank as in “I have nothing to say,” but a blank as in “where do I start?”  So I decided to just start writing and see where it leads me.

     Any parent can probably write an entire book telling stories of parenthood, but I only have a few paragraphs. So, I’m going to focus on three aspects of nursing my son: the good, the bad and the ugly.  Let’s start, though, with the ugly and work up to the good. If you can get through the ugly and the bad of breastfeeding, a.k.a the first few months, you are good to go.

breastfeeding week 4

Samantha and husband, Tory

     The ugliest part of breastfeeding for me was the pain. …LOTS of pain.  I took a nursing class a few weeks before my due date, as many mommies-to-be will or should do.  It was great information. I was informed about the science of breastfeeding, the techniques of breastfeeding, the benefits of breastfeeding and more. I was certain that I was well on my way to becoming the best breastfeeder in the world. What they left out in the class, was the emotional and physical toll nursing has on a new momma.  I had terribly cracked and bloody nipples for the first two months of nursing.  Every time my son latched, it was excruciatingly painful. I thought many times about giving up and struggled with the notion that I was somehow failing my little boy. I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t doing anything wrong so I contacted a lactation expert. After talking with the expert, I found out that my pain was completely normal.  There are, though, many different remedies for the physical pain, as explained to me by the expert. The things that saved me were lots of nipple butter, a nipple shield and ibuprofen.  At about the third month, I didn’t need any of those things! For the emotional struggle or baby blues, I found a lot of relief in talking to other mommas, whether they breastfed or not.  It’s super important to have an army of support around you!

       The bad part of breastfeeding, and the toughest for me, was the constant work and effort that is required initially. Everything was new to me! Newborns need to eat every hour or so and because breast milk is mainly water, it digests super quickly. Think about that for a second… that means that I was sitting with my newborn every other hour for at least 20 minutes per side all day every day…including nights. Although I enjoyed the timing bonding with my newborn, it was very tough for me to adjust. The nights were the worst for me. I’m very grumpy on minimal sleep, so says my husband. During this time, it is very handy to have an army of support. You have to have help! While you cannot give your boob to your significant other to feed the baby, there are things that they can do to support you. They can clean, cook dinner, wake up with you for the extra company or rub your feet when you become overly stressed.   Don’t be scared or feel less powerful by asking for a little help. Even if it’s just for someone to watch over your little one while you take a shower!

breastfeeding week 2

Samantha & Baby Bryce

Now that we’ve waded through the yucky stuff, let me say, breastfeeding is the most empowering thing I have ever done as a woman and mother. The benefits are honestly countless!  Every year there is more and more research that supports breastfeeding for the first six months of life (any amount is AMAZING!).  Not only are you feeding your baby with the most nutritious milk possible, you are also building their immune system.  Because the milk is organic, it actually changes to fit what your child needs.  As you nurse, your body picks up on any bacteria and viruses in your baby and creates pathogens to protect and fight against illness, all on its own! Breast milk has also been found to help prevent allergies. From my personal experience, my eight-month-old, whom I nursed for seven months, has only ever had pink eye once. No other fevers, funks or sickness!

breastfeeding week 1

Baby Bryce, 8 months old

Breastfeeding is not only tremendous for the little one, it’s also wonderful for the mother! Nursing mothers are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Remember those baby blues from earlier?  After I got the hang of nursing, those quickly went away! Feeding my little dude became stress relieving and relaxing. On top of that, breastfeeding helps momma lose some, if not all of the baby weight. I gained about 80-85 pounds in my pregnancy. Eight months later, I only have 15 more pounds to lose to break even! But the most rewarding part, for me, is the bond that my little one and I now share. Deciding to breastfeed has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

There are many, many, more benefits of breastfeeding; I can’t possibly fit them all! Remember, you are a beautiful and wonderful mother, and whether you decide to breastfeed or not, you are going to be great! You can do this! Happy Worldwide Breastfeeding Week! #BreastMilkIsTheBestMilk