Welcome Baby paves the way to accessible postpartum support
By: Isabella Holmes for The Dirt
The glaring gaps in reproductive health care in the U.S. are palpable, and disproportionately impact lower income and marginalized groups. Welcome Baby is a new program that objects to this lack of care and uses their funding to make postpartum care free and accessible to all birthing parents in Yolo County.
Welcome Baby provides free postpartum care, including an in-home visit with a registered nurse, and up to two more visits with a Family Support Specialist. The program is available to Yolo County residents with public health care (MediCal, Partnership, MCAP) or residents who are uninsured. Welcome Baby will never ask for immigration status.
Hartman is the Systems Integration and Implementation Officer at First 5 Yolo. Welcome Baby is a collaboration between First 5 Yolo, CommuniCare, and Yolo County Children’s Alliance.
The in-home visit—which happens within the first two weeks of returning from the hospital— is comprehensive to say the least. Families can expect detailed clinical assessments of both parent and baby, mental health assessments, breastfeeding support and referrals, and health education.
“The postpartum period is already such a vulnerable time,” Hartman said. ”And when the isolation and stress that came with the Pandemic was added, the need for more accessible care was clear.”
There’s a major focus on supporting mental health. The Welcome Baby program was created during the Pandemic, when the number of parents experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety was climbing.
“There were very serious negative effects of the pandemic on pregnant persons that really led to a decline in maternal health,” Hartman said. “Postpartum depression and anxiety were rising, health related issues such as preterm birth were increasing, and people were delaying their prenatal care.”
First 5 used American Rescue Plan relief aid to fund this project. A special aspect of Welcome Baby is the connection to community resources. Integrating health and social services allows Welcome Baby s to provide truly holistic care for families.
“If the family has certain needs, nurses can assess for that and connect them to community support,” Hartman said. “If the family is experiencing barriers to transportation, food, stable housing, etc., Welcome Baby links them to other community resources that can help.”
Within 30 days of the nurse visit, they are set up with a support system for their individualized needs. If a parent feels they are showing signs of postpartum depression, they get help connecting with behavioral health resources.
“Parents are really in need of postpartum support and care,” Hartman said. “Getting in early and immediately providing connection to the family is critical to the long-term health of both the birthing parent and the baby.”
To connect with Welcome Baby for services, leave a confidential voicemail at 916-403-2905 or fill out this form.