A healthy baby starts with you

By Meggan Gray - bio | email

VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - Two years ago, Coastal Family Health Center rolled out its Mom and Baby mobile unit.  Ever since, it's been traveling across Jackson, Harrison and Hancock Counties to treat uninsured moms-to-be, like Megan Hood.

"It's kind of hard when you don't have insurance and you're looking for someone to take care of you," Hood said.

After having gestational diabetes and delivering her first child prematurely, Hood isn't taking any chances.  The Mom and Baby unit allows her to get the testing she needs to catch any problems early.

"If you have any concerns or anything, they would make an appointment for you and Ms. Regina just tells you to come on in."

Regina Simpson is a nurse practitioner who travels with the unit. She said making sure a mom gets prenatal care is vital to her child's long-term health.

"They start having a bond with the medical community even before the baby is born," Simpson explained.  "And so they're also more likely to follow up with immunizations for the baby in the first year after delivery."

Dr. Persharon Dixon, Director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Children's Health Project, couldn't agree more.

"That first year of life is just so very important.  You know those babies will have anywhere between 10 and 12 appointments with their pediatrician in the first year of life."

But the key to making the most out of those appointments is starting even before the baby is born.  And Dr. Persharon Dixon said moms who use the mobile unit get a head start, because they've already formed a relationship with Coastal Family Health, which continues to see babies after they're born.

Dr. Dixon said, "It's the way care should be.  Through this method, we're able to provide the prenatal care for the moms, and then extend that into the pediatric services that Coastal Family Health provides."

The Mom and Baby unit will be at a community health fair at the Donal Snyder Center in Biloxi Saturday, August 29th, from 9am - 2pm.  The event is called "Enhancing Survival After Pregnancy," and it's free.

It's a great opportunity for all parents to learn what they need to do to keep their babies healthy in that first year of life, such as sleeping them on their backs, learning CPR, getting immunizations, and much more.

If you go, you can also learn how to help your community become child-friendly certified.  To learn more, visit Excel by 5.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.