We smile, but as pregnant healthcare workers we are not okay.

“According to the World Health Organization, the health and well-bring of a mother and child during pregnancy and at birth largely determines the future health and wellness of the entire family.”

As a neonatal nurse working during the pandemic on the maternity units (NICU, Labor & Delivery and Postpartum), I’ve been witness to COVID positive maternity and neonatal patients, multiple rapid-response and code blue cases. And as the founder of Unique Footprints, an online pregnancy and new mom program I feel that there is so much more we can do to help pregnant healthcare workers improve the health of both the mother and child during this pandemic. (Learn how you can help gift a scholarship and our matching program x3. Our goal is to help 1,000 pregnant healthcare workers this year. Do you already know that you want to donate – click here to help a pregnant healthcare worker today).

From a recent study, “The COVID‐19 pandemic will likely continue to negatively impact human health for years to come, especially among individuals experiencing pandemic‐related stress during sensitive periods of the life course, including pregnancy and early development. The COVID‐19 pandemic is currently disrupting maternity care and affecting well‐being among pregnant women, thereby increasing the risk of poor future health for both mother and child.”

There is a vastly growing field of fetal development and fetal psychology and we know that stress in utero leads to higher rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, ADHD and anxiety.

The in utero environment tells baby what life is like outside and so baby is constantly receiving messages on how to best prepare for life outside of the womb. So think about that for a moment, if the mother is experiencing stress whether it’s chronic stress or just typical daily stress baby is still receiving those messages and because baby is so resilient he’s taking in that information and deciding I need to be prepared for a stressful world. Well what if we could give baby different messages, messages where baby is safe, where baby can encounter stress and then quickly calm its body and brain what a happy baby that would be. There are so many mindfulness studies now that shows when the mother practices a daily mindfulness practice there are positive effects in the body and mind for both the mother and baby. We see statistics of higher self-esteem, higher self-acceptance, higher success rates, higher academic achievements, lower maternal depression rate, and lower anxiety and depression rates in both baby and mother.

A lot of moms ask how we know this information is true and how we know that mindfulness is a helpful intervention. Here’s a quick de-brief, in our DNA if we look at the chromosome, if you remember from your science ed class, the chromosome kind of looks like an X, and in that chromosome is our DNA, now at the ends of the chromosomes are protective caps called Telomeres, and these protective caps keep our DNA from having damage. And as we get older those protective caps gets smaller and shorter, and that’s why we have so many age related diseases, and it’s the general wearing out process of our physical body, however we now know that stress more than age shortens the length of those protective caps. But there is good news, in utero the mother can actively grow longer protective caps or Telomeres, for her child. It is the number one time for telomere growth, throughout the lifespan. So yes mothers can add a little bit of length to their own telomeres by practicing mindfulness and that’s helpful but mothers can give their baby such a huge impact and such a head start with stronger and heather DNA just by having a daily mindfulness practice, says Katharine Ottone (Unique Footprints Licensed Professional Counselor).

About Unique Footprints:

We’re Moms, Nurses, Dietitians, Counselors, Lactation Consultants, Infant Sleep Coaches and Prenatal Yoga Therapists on a mission to bring health and happiness to pregnant moms and our little ones. The idea for Unique Footprints was created in the Labor & Delivery room when I was helping “catch babies” and performing neonatal resuscitation. I realized there was so much more we could do to improve birth outcomes by filling the gap expecting families are faced with today.

Expecting mothers are creating their baby’s unique footprints and can truly benefit from a skill development program that’s unlike anything out there in the maternity market. UF participant, Shuchi S. says, “I got to know about the Unique Footprints program from my hospital’s website when I registered for my delivery. I am so glad that I decided to enroll in the program! This is my first pregnancy and I really have no experience with prenatal stuff and newborn care. I’m a physical therapist and always wanted an evidence based prenatal program rather than random YouTube videos. I realized that there’s so much more to pregnancy and caring for the newborn than what’s mentioned in our medical textbooks. Unique Footprints has wonderful practical information that will help you throughout your pregnancy and postpartum. I absolutely LOVE the prenatal yoga sessions and mindfulness programs. I’ve been practicing them and it’s helping me to cope with my pregnancy anxiety much better. I also love that it is self-paced (so I don’t have to remember everything at once!). Jenny is so wonderful and answers any questions I have. It’s great because she’s a nurse and a mom- so I know I’m getting authentic information from someone so experienced. I really think every pregnant woman will benefit so much from this program!”

Help us get to our goal of 1,000 scholarships. 

Unique Footprints is starting a giving campaign to help pregnant healthcare workers. For every 1 scholarship purchased, Unique Footprints will match x3 to gift 4 scholarships for the price of 1 participant. In other words, for every $79.99 donated, 4 scholarships will be gifted to pregnant healthcare workers.

We’d love to hear: If you donate, leave a comment and let us know! And if you’re pregnant or know a pregnant healthcare worker leave a comment below to be included in our scholarship giveaway.

 

Authors:

Jenny Morrow is a mom, neonatal nurse, lactation consultant, childbirth educator, yoga instructor and founder of Unique Footprints (an online pregnancy and new mom resource). The idea for Unique Footprints was created in the Labor & Delivery room when Jenny was helping “catch babies.” She believes every life is a miracle and just as each newborn’s footprint is unique to them, each pregnancy journey is equally unique. You can read more about Jenny here.

Katharine Ottone is the Unique Footprints Counselor, is a “Mom-Approved Therapist” from DFW Child Magazine. She’s a Licensed Professional Counselor, holds a Master’s degree from Texas Christian University, am on fellowship with their Ph.D. Counseling and Counselor Education Program, and serve as Adjust Faculty for their Master’s Program. For just under a decade, she has worked with children and families at Fort Worth landmarks Cook Children’s Medical Center Psychiatry Unit, ACH Child and Family Services, The Art Station and TCU. She is an expert on solution-focused brief therapy for prenatal woman, children, families, developmental trauma and mindfulness. You can learn more about Katharine here. 

Unique Footprints is the ultimate online pregnancy program that teaches you everything you need to know for your entire pregnancy to prepare for your baby Just as your newborn’s footprint is unique to them, your pregnancy journey is equally unique. Our holistic approached, evidence-based program supports you by teaching skills that will last far beyond the birth of your baby.
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