Displaying items by tag: maternity housing

The Transformative Power of Consistency in Maternity Homes

playgroupby Valerie Harkins, Director of the Maternity Housing Coalition of Heartbeat International

In the sacred work of nurturing life and fostering growth, maternity homes stand as sanctuaries of hope and transformation. These homes, often serving women who have faced significant challenges and adverse childhood experiences (ACES), must embody the essence of consistency. As Christian leaders and caregivers, we understand that consistency is not merely a practice but a profound expression of God’s love and faithfulness. This article explores the critical importance of consistency in maternity homes, highlighting its benefits for brain development, stress reduction, and team cohesion.

The Role of Consistency in Brain Development

God has designed the human brain to be incredibly adaptive, capable of healing and growing even after significant trauma. For residents of maternity homes, many of whom have endured ACES, a consistent environment can be a catalyst for this healing. Consistency helps in the development of new neuropathways, essential for improving executive functioning, regulating anxiety, and reducing negative reactionary behavior. Executive functioning encompasses crucial skills such as planning, decision-making, and self-control. A stable, predictable environment allows the brain to practice and strengthen these skills regularly. Over time, this repetition fosters the creation of new neuropathways, essentially rewiring the brain to operate more effectively and efficiently. Anxiety regulation is another critical benefit. Unpredictable environments can trigger the brain’s fear response, leading to heightened anxiety. Consistent routines provide a sense of safety and predictability, calming the brain’s fear center and reducing overall anxiety levels. This stability is especially vital for individuals with ACES, whose baseline anxiety levels may already be elevated due to past traumas. Moreover, consistency helps mitigate negative reactionary behaviors. When residents know what to expect, their need to react defensively diminishes. Predictable routines reduce stress, allowing residents to respond more thoughtfully rather than impulsively. This shift from reaction to response is a crucial step in emotional and psychological healing.

The Impact of Consistency on Staff and Team Dynamics

A consistent schedule and daily structure do not only benefit the residents but also significantly impact the staff and overall team dynamics. For staff members, a predictable routine reduces stress and burnout. When caregivers know what to expect each day, they can prepare adequately, manage their time better, and focus more on providing quality care rather than constantly adapting to unexpected changes. This predictability extends to the entire team, fostering a culture of reliability and trust. Consistent routines ensure that everyone is on the same page, reducing miscommunications and misunderstandings. This unified approach enhances teamwork and collaboration, creating a more harmonious and efficient working environment. Moreover, consistency in operations allows staff to model stability for the residents. By demonstrating reliable and steady behavior, staff members become role models for the residents, teaching them the value of consistency through their actions. This modeling is a powerful tool in the residents’ learning and healing process, reinforcing the principles of stability and reliability.

The Science of Creating New Neuropathways

Creating new neuropathways in the brain, a process known as neuroplasticity, is central to the healing journey of residents in maternity homes. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. This capability is especially pertinent for individuals with ACES, as it allows for the reprogramming of brain functions that may have been disrupted by trauma. Consistency plays a vital role in this process. Repeated behaviors and experiences strengthen specific neural pathways, making them more efficient and robust. In a consistent environment, positive behaviors and routines are reinforced, facilitating the development of new, healthier neural connections. This neurological transformation is akin to a spiritual renewal, where old, harmful patterns are replaced with new, life-giving habits.

A Christian Perspective on Consistency

In our Christian faith, we are called to reflect the steadfast love of God in all that we do. Psalm 136:1 reminds us, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” This enduring love is a model for the consistency we strive to embody in our maternity homes. By providing a stable and predictable environment, we are mirroring God’s unwavering faithfulness, offering a safe haven where healing and growth can flourish.

In conclusion, consistency in maternity homes is not merely a practical strategy; it is a divine invitation. It supports brain development, reduces anxiety, and fosters positive behaviors in residents. For staff, it creates a stress-free, cohesive, and communicative environment. As we embrace consistency, we are participating in God’s transformative work, helping to create new neuropathways of hope and healing in the lives of those we serve. Let us be steadfast in our commitment to this holy calling, knowing that through our efforts, we are reflecting the unchanging love of our Creator.

Addressing Fatigue and Isolation in the Soul of the Maternity Housing Leader

by Valerie Harkins, Director of Maternity Housing Coalition for Heartbeat Internationalpexels tima miroshnichenko 5717261

As leaders in maternity housing, we often find ourselves giving so much of our time, energy, and love to our residents along with their own tiny residents (their children) in need. While this is a worthy and fulfilling calling, it can also take a toll on our well-being. Fatigue and feelings of isolation creep into our souls without our noticing while we are fast at work with our hands to the plow.

Take this note in your heart and tuck it away for a later date: God is faithful to provide His strength and His comfort in our time of need, but not necessarily an end to the difficulties or even the opposition pressing upon us. He is the miraculous God who does far beyond what our imaginations can even think to ask. While our souls may cry out for deliverance from the lion’s den, He is the wise God who instead gives peace that surpasses understanding while inside the den. How glorious and perfect, a solution that gently silences the powers of darkness at work around us that boast of their own strength while also creating a demonstration of His own nature before unbelievers. This creates an “altar moment” for all surrounding the den and watching you in the midst of a trial. It is an opportunity for all to be awed by Jesus, the One whom even the lions obey.

The life raft for your soul, is the deep remembrance that you are not alone. Never. God is always by your side, ready to provide strength and comfort. In Psalm 46:1 it says, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Lean on Him and seek His guidance in moments of weariness. He’s proven Himself over and over throughout the Bible, throughout global history, and throughout your very own life. 

A little practical support for you while you’re in the den:

  • Avoiding burnout is essential for us to continue serving effectively. Make sure to carve out time for rest, relaxation, and movement.
  • Prioritize tasks and delegate when possible.
  • Set healthy boundaries: Remember that saying "no" to some things allows you to say "yes" to what truly matters.

It is crucial to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Connect with other leaders in similar roles for support and advice.

Heartbeat Affiliates: If you haven’t already joined be sure to submit a request to join our private facebook group Maternity Housing Coalition - Affiliates Group. Remember, it's okay to ask for help when needed, or even just when it’s wanted. Every housing affiliate has access to a cost-free maternity housing consultation per month. Hop on the schedule here.

May you find renewed strength and encouragement in your journey as a maternity housing leader. Remember, you are making a difference in the lives of many. Keep shining your light bright!

Maternity Housing Coalition Partnership

by Valerie Harkins, Director of Maternity Housing CoalitionMaternity Housing Coalition & Option Line

The Maternity Housing Coalition (MHC) is excited to announce three features available to Heartbeat International affiliates.

1. Announcing our new housing locator tool!

a. This tool is free to all affiliates.
b. An online application is built into the tool. With the application feature, affiliated homes receive an email with a snapshot of the potential client's information including her name, gestation, current location, and if she currently has a safe place to stay.
c. Affiliate homes are matched with a woman based on the intake information entered. When you reach out to connect with this young woman, you are already prepared with the information you need to have a successful and fruitful conversation.

2. Option Line is partnered with MHC!

a. Option Line is available 24/7, including holidays, to assist women applying for maternity housing.

3. Maternity Homes can Forward Calls to Option Line!

a. Maternity home affiliates can forward calls to Option Line after hours as a complementary benefit of affiliation. When your office is closed, even during meetings or events, Option Line is here to assist women attempting to contact your maternity home.
b. Option Line is bilingual! This gives you peace of mind knowing that even Spanish-speaking callers are being served.
c. Click here to learn how to take advantage of this benefit.

Next Step: Click here to register to be added to the housing locator tool today! We aim to create a robust directory of maternity homes where you can list your services so women can be connected and served even faster. With our partnership with Option Line, we will reach even more!


For questions please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Slip, Trip, and Fall: Five Safety Tips for Maternity Homes

by Mary Peterson, Housing Specialist IntheWakeNYof Heartbeat International

Fall is here! With this great season, we think about football, pumpkin spice, and…baby safety?!?! Yep, in addition to being the time of shifting weather and changing leaves, September is recognized as Baby Safety Month.

In the spirit of recognizing the role of having a safe environment, here are a few safety tips that impact a group living environment, especially with newborns:

1. Wash your hands. When you read about promoting health, especially in group environments, handwashing is ALWAYS mentioned as the key starting place. Whether it’s singing silly songs, giving the stink eye, or side-by-side modeling the behavior, figure out a way to create a culture of clean hands. (Note: Stink eye, while a technique used by moms everywhere, should be used only in special circumstances.)  If pretty-smelling soap promotes the distraction of germs, it’s worth the investment!

2. Use products according to directions and the child’s age, weight, and developmental needs.  That’s the big one given by the promoters of Baby Safety Month so I thought I should feature it!  At maternity homes, we are pretty good at “making do”—but when it comes to the well-being of our little ones, I like the motto, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

3. Be attentive to sleep safety! It’s a tough one to convince sleep-deprived mamas and nearly impossible to regulate, I know! But having safe practices around sleep will give peace of mind and hopefully, better sleep to everyone involved. Maybe we could share creative ways to talk about safe sleeping in our Facebook group?!?

4. Be attentive. Watching moms engage deeply with their child(ren) is one of the joys of maternity home life. Whether engaging playfully, meeting the baby’s needs, or watching for safety hazards, homes should be a source of encouragement for the mother’s active participation in the life of her child. The habit of managing distractions—especially with gadgets constantly at our fingertips—is a great life lesson!

5. Prevent slips, trips, and falls. These everyday hazards are a common threat to kids—and adults!—of the house. Pregnant women may not easily see the underfoot and falling objects that can be dangerous to infants on the ground or in cribs. Be aware of cords, ice, and other hazards.  Teach the adults of the house (staff, volunteers, and residents) to turn on “risk assessment” eyes as they observe the environment!

Let’s raise a pumpkin spice latte to the safety of our homes! May they be places of well-being and protection!