When Mickenzie found out she was pregnant, she was excited - but nervous. Living on her own in DC, two hours from her family in Richmond, she wasn’t sure where to start. All she knew for sure was that she wanted a natural childbirth.
As soon as Mickenzie discovered Community of Hope’s Family Health and Birth Center, she knew she’d found the support system she needed. Our prenatal navigator, Jaleesa Hopkins, made sure she was getting the resources needed for a health pregnancy. She connected her to prenatal care, including appointments with a midwife and group classes with other pregnant moms-to-be. “I learned so much about breastfeeding,” she reports. “I’m glad we talked about it, because when my son was born, we did have trouble in the beginning with breastfeeding. But having those classes, I knew what to do.”
As her birth drew nearer, Mickenzie got an additional source of emotional and health support: a Community of Hope doula, Nichol Haley. Nichol met with Mickenzie in the final weeks before her due date to talk about what to expect in labor and how to manage the pain – naturally or with medication. Mickenzie made the bold decision to have a natural birth with no medication. "She knew it would hurt," Nichol says, "but I told her not to worry: her family would be right there with her, and so would I."
When Mickenzie went into labor, Nichol met her at the hospital. The room filled quickly – with her fiancée Michael, Nichol, and her family from Richmond. Nichol got to work, applying pressure to Mickenzie’s back, helping her walk around the room to manage the pain. “She helped me feel so much better,” Mickenzie remembers. “Michael didn’t really know what to do!”
“A doula also tries to make sure the whole family is comfortable,” Nichol explains. “Sometimes if the dad is anxious, then he can’t help Mom be comfortable. Sometimes you have to whisper in his ear to go hold Mom’s hand.”
So, in a room full of supportive family, Mickenzie gave birth to a beautiful boy, Michael Jr.
“I couldn't have asked for a better group of midwives to help me through my pregnancy,” Mickenzie says. "They helped me through every doubt and worry in my mind, which gave me confidence and allowed me to really enjoy the birth of my son. Despite the pain involved, February 1st was truly the best day of my life!”
“I didn’t think I’d be able to do it,” Mickenzie remembers. Nichol smiled and said, “I knew you could!”
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this month, we honor all of the amazing moms at Community of Hope. And we send a ‘Happy first Mother’s Day’ wish to Mickenzie. Congratulations!
As Newsweek recently reported infants in Washington, DC’s poorest communities are ten times more likely die than their richer neighbors. We are pleased to work hard to address this challenge in two DC neighborhoods. In the Carver Terrace neighborhood of Ward 5, our prenatal patient navigation and doula support programs, provided through the National Capital Strong Start program, have helped hundreds of at-risk mothers birth healthy babies. Starting in late summer 2015, because of support from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, we will provide similar patient navigation, group care, doulas and other key supports to women surrounding our Ward 8 health center.