Life Stages: Maternal Health

MHP Salud’s Community Health Workers (CHWs) support pregnant women by providing education on the health benefits of breastfeeding along with assistance for mothers currently breastfeeding.

Community Health Workers and Maternal Health

Throughout our thirty-five-year history, MHP Salud’s Life Stages initiative has helped empower pregnant women across the nation. Pregnancy is an important time for women and their children, and intervention on existing health risks as well as taking preventative measures to avoid complications is critical. Access to quality preconception, prenatal, and other women’s health services can improve pregnancy-related health outcomes.

MHP Salud’s Community Health Workers (CHWs) also support pregnant women by providing education on the health benefits of breastfeeding along with assistance for breastfeeding mothers. For many lower-income Latino and Hispanic mothers, there are various social, cultural, and economic factors that make successful breastfeeding challenging. These factors can include the halting of breastfeeding because of a mother’s need to return to work or school, not having privacy or support from family and misinformation around the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding.1

A CHW’s knowledge of the culture and understanding of these mothers’ situations gives them the insight and empathy they need to address these factors head-on. With this advantage, they can provide education around breastfeeding and dispel common misconceptions to mothers, fathers, and the community at large.

Our initiative works with local businesses to help them understand the importance of breastfeeding and sign a pledge of support for breastfeeding employees.

Breastfeeding was initiated by over 95% of our program participants across all our maternal health initiatives.

Addressing Barriers to Breastfeeding with CHW-led Maternal Health Initiatives

CHWs in our Maternal Health Initiatives are trained as Breastfeeding Counselors to provide personalized one on one and group education sessions to expecting and new mothers. The education helps dispel some common cultural misconceptions like the idea that mixing formula and breast milk provides the most nutritional value (commonly referred to as “los dos cosas” in Spanish-speaking communities). These sessions also included strategies mothers could utilize, like pumping, to continue providing breastmilk to their children even if they had to return to work. Additionally. CHWs provided information to fathers on how they could be supportive during the breastfeeding process.

One of the major assets of our Maternal Health initiative is the ability to mobilize the community at large to support breastfeeding. In one instance, CHWs worked with 13 local businesses to help them understand the importance of breastfeeding and sign a pledge of support.

The activities in this initiative are designed to overlap across personal, interpersonal, and community level relationships to increase the community’s capacity to support breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has been initiated by over 95% of our program participants across all our maternal health initiatives.

Want more information on this initiative? Please contact us at info@mhpsalud.org

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About MHP Salud 

MHP Salud has over thirty years of experience implementing CHW programs and training organizations looking to start and/or strengthen their own CHW programs. For more information about MHP Salud, our services, and how we can help you, please email us at info@mhpsalud.org

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