By Kristine Sorensen

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When a woman is pregnant, there’s a lot of attention on how she’s doing from doctors, friends and family, but once the baby is born, the focus goes to the baby, and the mom is sometimes on her own to figure it out.

A local program called Nurture PA is helping moms when they need support — right after they leave the hospital and for several years if they want, and it’s all through texting.

Nurture PA is supporting more than 400 moms across the region with volunteer mentors who communicate with the moms through texting. Now, the program is growing exponentially by offering it to moms at Magee Women’s Hospital, which delivers 10,000 babies a year.

kidsburgh nurture pa Kidsburgh: Moms Supporting New Moms

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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Baby Scarlett Josephine Mangas is only a couple hours old, but already, her mom, Lauralynn, is thinking about what it will be like when they go home to Ben Avon. She’s signing up for the mentoring program after a visit from Nurture PA in her hospital room at Mercy Hospital.

Merett Southall already used the service when she had her children, and now she’s a mentor for other moms.

“There’s a lot of moms that don’t have the support you may think they have,” Southall says. “It takes a village,” and she knows she was one of the people who needed extra support.

Merett’s mom and grandmothers had already passed away, and her in-laws are out of town, so she relied on the support of her Nurture PA mentor, all through texting, when she had her third and fourth children.

She liked the words of support, information on baby milestones and quick answers to any questions. She says with four kids, texting is a perfect way to communicate.

“I understand firsthand how insanely hectic and overwhelming things can feel,” Southall says. “When you’re sitting alone with your kids, and the house is a mess and the kids are screaming, “Mom, Mom, Mom,” it’s nice to know that someone is just a text away.”

Mentors never meet the moms. It’s all anonymous, making it easier for a new mom to ask anything without feeling judged.

Nurture PA trains the mentors to look for signs of postpardum depression and recommend where to get help. Kate Brennan, Director of Operations for Nurture PA, says, “That’s a primary issue we want to address with our program because we have that intimate relationship and frequent communication. We have insights that frequently get overlooked.”

Fifty percent of the women approached in the hospital sign up for Nurture PA, and it’s now expanding to UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital – one of the busiest hospitals in the country for delivering babies. Maribeth McLaughlin, vice president of Operations at Magee, says, “We’re trying to meet the needs of today’s generation.”

In the end, it’s moms helping moms to make a healthier community. Southall knows that as a mentor and a user of the program. “If they the have tools, resources and confidence they need,” she says of new moms, “not only do they benefit but so does their relationship with their baby, immediately and long term.”

If you’d like to volunteer as a mentor for the Nurture PA program, it only takes about one hour a week. There’s a training so you’re prepared on what to do and how to help, and they need more mentors as they expand to Magee.

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