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Birth Matters Virginia: Augusta County Chapter

Staunton, VA

Amount Requested: $1,955 for Augusta Healthy Baby/Healthy Community

Mission: Our mission is to improve birth outcomes and reduce social and economic costs, through access to education, dissemination of evidence, and the sharing of personal narrative.

Constituents Served: All  women are eligible for services. As a state group, we served over 435 participants in 35 events. Our Augusta County chapter, which is the focus of this proposal, hosted 10 peer support events for 75 participants.  The participants were of childbearing age, mostly between 25 and 35.

Program Overview: Augusta Healthy Baby/Healthy Community, a new program of Birth Matters Virginia, aims to improve health education and birth outcomes for young, low literacy, low income pregnant mothers in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County who are at high risk for preterm birth, infant mortality, and have few available pregnancy related educational resources. Healthy Baby/Healthy Community is a free, prenatal education program that will meet once per month to address 6 core components including: nutrition, postpartum depression, breastfeeding, safe exercise, preparation for birth, and even, simply, how to ask questions in a medical setting.  Our goal is to serve 50 unduplicated women including 5 women under 20 years old by June 2017. To encourage attendance, participants are provided with baby care incentives, such as diapers and wipes, for attending each component.  Additionally, each woman who walks in the door will walk out with, at minimum, a book called, Baby Basics, a journal, and a pack of 10 diapers. Birth Matters will also offer pre-screened childcare providers to encourage attendance.

The local preterm birth rate, smoking rate, literacy rate, infant mortality, and teen pregnancy rate are all higher than the Virginia average.  Waynesboro & Staunton have a higher than average preterm birth rate of 12.24 and 12.17, respectively.  In Staunton, 15.68% of pregnant women smoke, the majority of whom consume 10 cigarettes per day.  Also smoking 10 cigarettes per day, are the majority of the 22.73% smoking pregnant women in Waynesboro.  The Virginia Employment Commission reports that 15.3% of the population doesn’t graduate from high school.  Waynesboro reports a teen pregnancy rate of 23.3, while the teen pregnancy rate in Staunton is 21.2. Additionally, Waynesboro has an infant mortality rate of 11.9, almost double the targeted rate of Healthy People 2020.

All women want a healthy baby and we can give them the tools.  Prosocial support, respectful maternity care, and health literacy helps babies stay in utero until they are full term. It also provides a network of compassionate support during the sometimes unforseen difficulties of the postpartum period. When women are encouraged to take charge of their own health and grow a healthy baby, they learn how to advocate for themselves as well as  their children. Babies born sick costs society at least $26 billion or $51,600 per premature baby per year (Institute of Medicine 2007).  Healthy babies and healthy moms are the seeds to grow a healthy community in Augusta County.

Current Operating Budget: $10,833

Program Budget: $2,955

Funding Already Committed for Program: $1,300 (We have secured a free, central location in Fishersville, as well as pre-screened babysitter.  We also have the personnel support provided by Birth Matters Virginia.)

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