Displaying items by tag: serving clients

What Value Does Diversity Bring a Pregnancy Help Organization?

by Cherilyn Holloway, Pro-Black Pro-LifeDiversityVariety

Is diversity about more than variety? What value does diversity bring to a pregnancy help organization? Greater diversity on your team will lead to more clients choosing life and will result in your organization targeting actual needs, not perceived needs.

Know Your Demographics

Knowing your demographics is key to fostering the type of diversity needed in an organization. Who’s in your community? Never assume to know who makes up your service area, especially based just on what you see or hear, because this can contribute to a gap between the actual and the perceived. Invest time to find nuanced demographic information that ensures your organization will be made up of an accurate representation of those you are serving. Spend time learning about the different dynamics in your community. 

A diverse community reflects a diversity of thought and experiences. To achieve this, pregnancy help organizations need to examine their culture. This includes how political discussions around the issue of race, political candidates, and other difficult issues are handled. Conversations regarding religious denominations, pastors, and churches can create a negative work environment for someone who aligns with your organization on the value of life but may have a difference of opinion on issues unrelated to the core mission. Ask how your organization is mindful of those who may not be in the dominant culture. Your heart is welcoming, but is your environment?  How could the organization welcome individuals who may not be from the dominant culture? How might it be chasing them away?

Adding Diversity

If you are not seeing a lot of diversity in your staff and volunteers, reach into your community to find out why. Be open to hearing what policies may be deterring guests. Ask how you could change your advertising to better reach a broader demographic. This dialogue is not always fun when you’re addressing and reconciling these issues. Sometimes these conversations reveal staff or volunteers who are not in alignment with the idea of diversification.  

What Will Change?

What will change as these steps are taken? We will create spaces that are more inviting to the clients we serve and that foster deeper connections with them. Our connection with the community will improve as we diversity in our team. These longer-term, improved connections in the community lead to more clients choosing life and help create an organization equipped to meet the actual needs around us.


Practical Tip: Take a look at your staff and volunteer list and a demographic report on your organization's service area. Does your team reflect the community or does your organization need to diversify?

Cherilyn Holloway will be presenting a workshop at the 2022 Heartbeat International Annual Conference called Why Diversify? If you want to learn more about this topic, join us in Jacksonville March 30-April 1, 2022!

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Paternity Tests – If Not Now, When?

by Jim & Jessica Braz

Pregnancy help organizations like yours often encounter unmarried clients. In fact, 40% of all births in the USA involve unmarried mothers, and the percentage is even higher for women under age 30.

The following, adapted from the book Baby Out of Wedlock: Co-Parenting Basics From Pregnancy to Custody by Jim and Jessica Braz, may be helpful for staff and volunteers who are working with unmarried parents who have questions about paternity tests.

If you are working with a pregnant woman, she may not be sure who the father is if they have multiple partners.Picture9

If you are talking to the father, he probably wants to ask, "are you sure I'm the father?"

Men need to keep in mind that the woman is not telling them this news unless she is pretty darn sure they are the father, and the last thing she wants to hear at this most stressful moment is that he doesn't believe her or that he thinks she must have had multiple partners recently.

However, women should remember that while they may be 100% certain who the father is, the man does not have that same degree of certainty because he does not know for sure who else she has been with besides him.

Jessica was insulted at first when she was asked for a paternity test three months after her son was born. Her lawyer was right to explain that the father just wanted to be 100% sure, as sure as Jess was.

Raising a child is a lifetime commitment. Both parents deserve to be 100% certain who the father of the child is. Certainty is a good thing for all parties involved, including the child.

Fortunately, it is easy enough to test for paternity once the child is born. Family lawyers should insist on this test, and the courts will always order the test if either party requests it. In most jurisdictions, a paternity test is a standard operating procedure. 

Fathers (or children) can quietly test for paternity with an off-the-shelf test from companies like 23 and Me or Ancestory.com these days, so the truth will come out eventually. But if either parent wants to enforce parenting rights or child support payments, then a more official test will be required by a court-approved facility.

Testing for parentage before birth used to require extracting amniotic fluid from the mother's belly. It is not a riskless process, and while it may be appropriate in some extreme circumstances, it is probably not the right move for most.

In recent years, medical advances have made prenatal paternity tests possible using the mother's blood and the father's saliva; however, they vary widely in quality and costs. Most can wait until the child is born to test for paternity.

Fathers should try their best not to dispute her when they hear the words, "I'm pregnant, and you are the father." And mothers, try not to be defensive if he asks, "are you sure it's mine?" Neither parent should spend their time and energy arguing about a paternity test during the pregnancy. A proper test will happen if either parent wants it to happen soon after the birth. There will be plenty of things to disagree about over the years; no need to make paternity tests one of them.

Picture10By Jim & Jessica Braz, adapted from their award-winning book, . For more information, including free one-on-consulting, please visit www.BabyOutofWedlock.com or email Jim & Jessica at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Author Bios: Years before Jim and Jessica Braz married, they each had a child born out of wedlock with other partners. They wrote Baby Out of Wedlock to answer basic, but common questions about this situation, thereby reducing legal bills and leading to healthier co-parenting relationships.

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When the Call Begins to Change You

by Lisa PinneyMoreChallenging

I want to tell you a story of a woman I once knew. This woman left her position at a small Christian school to begin working at an inpatient dual diagnosed D&A rehab. She knew she was called to work with the broken. The folks she met daily were very broken. Day after day she listened to heavy stories of things that had happened to the clients. At the same time, she saw lives restored. This particular rehab had high employee turnover as well. Some of the employees burned out, some relapsed, some moved on to other careers because the work was too heavy.

Around the 2-year mark, the woman noticed a few changes in herself but shrugged them off. She chalked it up to a recent promotion she had received, and the fact she was no longer working with teens.  Afterall, she was called to work with the broken and she wanted to be faithful to God. Things also began to change in her personal life compounding her discouragement and disillusionment. There came a point where she could no longer put on her proverbial mask for the world.  She didn’t know where to turn. She was the strong one. The one everyone else came to for help. Now, she needed help and didn’t know where to turn. So, she did the only thing she could do. She shut down inside and just went through the motions of each day. The women whose compassion blessed so many, needed a little TLC, self-compassion and counseling.

Here were some of the changes she recalls from working at the rehab. I categorized them into 3 areas where her life had changed.


  • A belief that she did not have the support of leadership.
  • A suspicion that her subordinates were waiting for her to fail, quit or get fired.
  • A sense of isolation because of the first two.


  • She self-medicated by shopping, watching TV, and some wine to help her sleep at night.
  • She felt numb during the week. She didn’t know that numbing can happen as a way to cope with constant stress.
  • She had frequent bouts of crying on the weekends.
  • She spent more time in bed “resting” because she was always tired. When she looked back, she recalls it more accurately as, a form of escape.
  • A loss in her desire to be around family and friends after work.
  • A general loss of interest.
  • Racing Thoughts. Subconsciously, it was all in an effort to not fail in “the call.” She now knows her identity was wrapped up in her call and not Christ.


  • A loss of joy
  • She frequently missed church due to fatigue.
  • She used to love to worship God but noticed herself standing silently during worship on the Sundays she did attend church.
  • She was no longer able to be blessed when she read her Bible because she had a hard time focusing on anything other than her job. Remember her racing thoughts?

She eventually left her job (her call) for another career after less than 3 years. That woman was me!

Since then, I’ve learned a lot.

First and foremost, I learned God cares about me! I learned my identity cannot be in what I do for Him. I came to realize that I moved into my call before I was healed enough from past hurts. None the less God used it.

I was hustling for my worth on a subconscious level. This hustling I speak of stemmed from my unmet desires and emotional needs that were crying out for attention. Here’s the thing, when we hustle for our worth, we conform, perform, subconsciously promote ourselves and vie for position. I did all of the above to feel like I was enough, to feel significant, to have some sense of achievement. I needed to prove the words of my biological father wrong when he said "you’ll never amount to anything.”

I’ve since moved back into my true call and it doesn’t consume or define me. Today, I am a faith and life coach helping those with emotional pain or need to make a transition in their lives. God used everything I experienced to help others.  If you can relate to my story, don’t deny your need. Jesus Christ paid an extremely high price for your life and wellbeing.

Use this short assessment to see if your call is changing you. Be brutally honest with yourself or ask a trusted friend if they have noticed any changes in your life.

Is my world is becoming smaller?

  • Am I less interested in activities that I used to enjoy?
  • Am I more fatigued or exhausted?
  • Am I less involved with friends and family?

Am I denying or medicating my stress and the emotional pain it causes by:

  • Drinking more?
  • Taking extra or stronger anxiety medications?
  • Sleeping more?
  • Watching TV more?
  • Mindlessly scrolling social media looking for something to make you feel alive?

Am I more:

  • Sad?
  • Frustrated?
  • Numb?

Am I less:

  • Agreeable?
  • Engaged?
  • Empathic?

Don’t let your call become your identity. Reach out to me, I can help. I have a deck of cards and a journal to use as a ministry tool or for yourself. Cut Cards and The Cut Through Tough Emotions Journal help you navigate through tough emotions to be able to connect deeply with the Father in prayer. 

Lisa Pinney
Pittsburgh Transformation Center

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What is Faith?

Servants of ExcellenceFaithHebrews

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Let’s be honest and admit, working in a pregnancy help ministry doesn’t simply ask for faith, it demands faith. We see broken, wounded and hurting people every day. Many times, we never get to see the results of our interaction with a client. Instead, she walks out the door and we have no idea whether she saw our concern for her, our desire to help her and our willingness to walk with her through her journey.

And we don’t hear from her again.

Faith. We’ve got to have faith.

As the writer of Hebrews says, faith is real when we believe, even when we can’t see.

Faith is watching her walk out the door with no hint of her decision and saying, “God is at work. I know He is.”

Faith is when she tells us her baby is no more and we comfort her, believing God will use even this moment to draw her to Himself.

Faith is watching her go back to an abusive situation and remembering, her story is still being written.

Faith is seeing a baby born into a desperate and dysfunctional home and saying, “She has a chance, and with God, all things are possible.

Each day, we walk in the door with faith. Without apology, we believe there is never a situation where God is shaken from His throne, there is never a time when He cannot move in someone’s life, there is never a situation too desperate for his intervention.

We know this. When one of us stumbles, we encourage. When one of us struggles to believe, we build up. We grab each other by the hand and press on, because . . . faith.

The “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 honors those whose faith led to incredible victories. But it also honors those who lost everything because when faith was needed, they would not be moved.

So it is with each of us. We stand strong. Our faith is immovable—just like those in the Hall of Faith-- because regardless of what we see, we choose to believe.

by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

Walking with Moms in Need


This year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking Catholic churches in the US to intensify their focus on the needs of women facing pregnancies in challenging circumstances. All U.S. bishops are encouraged to invite their parishes to join the nationwide effort from March 25, 2020 to March 25, 2021 entitled “Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service.”

Individual parishes are asked to complete an inventory of the resources currently available in their local area, assess the results and identify gaps, and plan and implement a parish response based on their findings.

During the inventory process, (May-September of 2020) parishes are being encouraged develop relationships with their local pregnancy help center. With well over 17,000 Catholic parishes in the United States, and over 2,700 pregnancy help centers, there is great opportunity for collaboration. The intent of this effort is not to turn parishes into pregnancy centers, but to have parishes better connect women in need to the local resources, and to encourage parish support of local pregnancy help efforts.

Once a bishop invites his parishes to join the Year of Service, parish teams would begin to survey local resources, especially pregnancy help centers. Pregnancy help centers are welcome to proactively contact the Catholic parishes in their area to share the wonderful help they are already providing to mothers in need.

To find out more about Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service, visit www.walkingwithmoms.com. To connect with the local Respect Life contact for the diocese in your region, click here.

Empowering Clients to Make Healthy Decisions

by Christa Brown BSN, RN, Medical Specialist/APR CoordinatorEmpoweringClients

Should she/he…                                

  • Move in?
  • Get tested?
  • Leave the relationship?
  • Quit the job?
  • Continue the pregnancy?
  • Hang out with some old friends?

Clients we serve are often in the midst of making relationship, pregnancy, sexual, career, health, and a variety of other major life choices. We are given the honor and privilege of assisting them in this process. 

We want the best outcomes for the women and men we are called to serve. But how do we successfully assist them navigate these life-altering decisions when sometimes there is no clear right or wrong? How do we allow them to choose without imposing our will on them? How do we help them succeed?

Often we see the situations they face in only black and white, good and bad. But the choices they are making might not always be answered that way. And the backgrounds of clients, the present circumstances and their future goals in life are all different. The better thought process might be, “what is the wise thing to do?”

  • Not - what is everyone else doing?
  • Not - what can they get away with?
  • Not –what did they do last time?
  • Not – what’s wise for their friends?
  • Not – what are others saying they should do?

Many clients have had some conditional love such as, “If you make the decision I want you to, I’ll care about you”, but very little unconditional love. Friends and family with other agendas can create doubt in the patient's choices. Even a very positive decision can feel completely wrong and clients might waiver either for a moment or for an extended length of time. As they struggle to get footing, it’s important we are not yet another voice causing them confusion. Pushing the decision we want might cause clients to agree in the moment, but it will likely not remain a long-term decision.

The big question becomes –

“In light of past experience, current circumstances, future hopes & dreams, what’s the wise thing to do?”

Looking at past experiences can bring clarity to current decisions. But it can be easy to be deceived into thinking that doing the same thing will achieve different results. We all believe we can manage outcomes. We tell ourselves, “I know last time didn’t go well, but this time is different.” Decisions made in the past have created the realities of today.

It’s also important to look at current circumstances to understand how they are affecting decisions. It’s not uncommon to want the easier way or immediate satisfaction. It’s just human nature to avoid thinking of the many outcomes that one decision might bring.

And thirdly, the vision for tomorrow can guide today’s decisions. It’s important for clients to see clearly their hopes and dreams and understand how today’s decisions affect them. It’s almost always a bad idea to trade something desired now for something wanted in the future. Friends and family might not have the same ambitions, so decisions might not be understood or supported. It’s a good exercise to brainstorm those hopes and dreams and even write them down, so they can remain in focus.  

Here are some steps that can be used to help process decisions:

  1. Clearly outline the issue. “The decision I need to make is...”
  2. Outline all the options.
  3. Consider the risks and benefits of each.
  4. Slow down. Don’t make the decision under pressure or in haste.
  5. Gather information needed about all options.
  6. Create an action plan for the decision.
  7. Make a long-term commitment to this choice.

As these decisions are processed, clients might not be consistent. When the trajectory has been set for quite some time and suddenly a different plan is made, the line sometimes doesn’t stay straight. Clients sometimes take two steps forward and three steps back. But then a few more steps. It’s important that we show our pride in them for each accomplishment. We might be the only ones cheering them on. But it’s equally important to let them know they can always be honest about those steps backwards. We cannot help them if they never return. Even if they make decisions they know we might not agree with, clients need ongoing support offered without judgment and condemnation. That can be the most difficult part of working in a center - maybe one of the hardest things we will ever do. But it’s what God calls us to, and it’s what will make the difference – loving them unconditionally.

Assisting clients to navigate very complicated waters can be both challenging and rewarding. With education and support, most clients are well capable of making good, healthy decisions. We can be the voice of support and love that helps them make the best choices possible. One good move forward today can affect all of the future.

“Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” Psalms 107:43 NKJV

Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic ([Rev. ed.].). New York: Free Press.

Covey, S. (2014). The 7 habits of highly effective teens: The ultimate teenage success guide. New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster.

The LOVE Approach https://www.heartbeatservices.org/resources/resources-by-topic/volunteer-training/the-love-approach-3rd-edition-training-manual

Stanley, A. (2014). Ask It. The Question That Will Revolutionize How You Make Decisions. Danvers, MA: Multnomah Books.

Defining Domestic Abuse for the Health of Future Generations

by Stacey Womack, Executive Director of Abuse Recovery Ministry & ServicesNotSatire

“He’s never hit me or been physical. It only happened once.”

Most people so narrowly define domestic violence and abuse that they decide what they are experiencing isn’t abuse at all. It doesn’t help that society tends to view it the same way.

It’s a challenging topic indeed. Abuse Recovery Ministry & Services (ARMS) has been working with victims and survivors of domestic violence for over twenty years, and we can tell you with resounding confidence that physical abuse, while dangerous, scary, and illegal, is not the form of abuse those we serve say is the worst. Emotional abuse has the most difficult and longest lasting effects, with verbal abuse a close second.

Domestic abuse isn’t about any one particular behavior. It is a pattern of behaviors used to gain and maintain power and control in an intimate relationship. It is never a one-time event, and it always includes multiple forms of abuse. In fact, you never experience physical abuse without experiencing other forms first. Forms of domestic abuse include: physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, property, financial, spiritual, and animal. Many abusers never escalate to stereotypical types of physical abuse if they can control their partners through other ways.

Physical abuse isn’t just about physical harm. It can include posturing to intimidate or blocking a door. Verbal abuse isn’t just yelling, swearing, and name calling. It includes more subtle things like the silent treatment to punish, sarcasm, or being critical. Sexual abuse isn’t just about rape, although this happens often in intimate partner violence, but it also includes sexual putdowns and pouting to get their way. Emotional abuse leaves a person feeling confused. They begin to question their own sanity. They lose sight of who they are and their value in God. ARMS has several resources on our website www.armsonline.org including a list of types of abuse and an evaluation to determine the health of a relationship.

Domestic abuse is a learned behavior that is passed on from one generation to the next. Men exposed to physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or domestic violence as children are almost four times more likely than other men to perpetrate domestic violence as adults.

Men and women have shared with us how they vowed they would never repeat the abusive behaviors they grew up with (the abuse or the acceptance of it), yet when conflicts arise, they find themselves reverting back to what they know. This is normal, but it is essential to equip those in abusive relationships to recognize the abuse, admit that it was wrong and hurtful, and seek help. This is how cycles of abuse end.

Parents are the number one influencers on a child’s life. Even if only one parent is willing to get help out of domestic abuse, it can become a catalyst for change for an entire family. Children cannot bring change to their home environments, but their parents can. Through the courage of their parents, the next generation can learn a healthier way to be in relationships move forward in life.

For practical tools to serve clients who are potential victims of domestic violence, check out Stacey Womack's new recorded webinar, What You Need to Know About Domestic Abuse, Click here to order.

4 Years After I Answered Tiffany's 'Tough Call,' She Sent Me This Message

20160818 164045
Tiffany and her son, Jonathen, in 2016.
by Carrie Beliles, International Program Specialist

Last week, I received a Facebook message in the middle of the night. Most Facebook messages in the middle of the night are no big deal, but for me, this specific message was.

Why? Because God knew this message was exactly what I needed to hear at that specific moment.

I needed to wake up, to be shaken out of where I was mentally and reminded of a principle God taught me four years ago.

It is not about me. It is all about Him.

Let’s go back to four years ago, when I found myself the newly appointed executive director of a pregnancy help center in Germany. While I didn’t speak German, the center actually served a unique, English-speaking clientele. Our abortion-vulnerable clients consisted entirely of women connected to the largest U.S. military base outside of the United States.

And, I took on this role by accident. No kidding, by “accident.” Totally under-qualified, I had never worked in the pro-life world. I’d never been trained or even so much as volunteered at a pregnancy center.

I did however, have a background in the fight against human trafficking, where I worked directly with victims, so I understood there are hurting people all over the world who needed to be shown compassion. My only real qualification was God had been teaching me to love others and meet them where they were.

More importantly, I was also hurting. Having just walked through a recent trial in my own life, my marriage had weathered several years as a military wife, complete with constant separations that are part of the job description. Add to that, I was pregnant with my fourth of now five children.

Because of these—what I considered—disqualifying factors, I assumed I wasn’t ready to minister to others. After all, shouldn’t I fix myself first, then move on to help others? That’s how I was thinking, but of course, I was wrong.

Learning to Handle the “Tough Questions”

As the newly installed executive director, my board sent me to the 2012 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in Los Angeles, hopeful that a one-week training would help start me on the right foot.

In a city famous for its movie stars, dreams and miracles, I was slightly overwhelmed with the actual size of the conference. Heartbeat, I learned, is an international organization uniting over 2,000 affiliates working toward a common life-saving goal. Just walking the halls and meeting others who were doing this amazing work all over the world was an inspiration.

Though I was encouraged, I felt out of my league. Every one else at the conference seemed to be a much better director, board member or volunteer than I could hope to be. All week long, I kept thinking they all must know what they are doing. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.

The last day of conference, I attended a session titled “Answering Tough Calls” with Bri Laycock, the director of Heartbeat’s 24-7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line. Having served with Option Line since shortly after its formation in 2003, Bri was confident and it seemed she was able to answer everything thrown her way. She was professional, ready and prepared—everything I felt I wasn’t.

At the end of the workshop, there was a Q-and-A session. An attendee raised her hand and posed a situation she recently faced. I sat back and listened, thinking, “I have no clue what I would do in that situation.”

The client, it turned out, was pregnant in the midst of a marriage that was falling apart due to infidelity. Multiple families were involved, and the baby this woman was carrying would be of a different race from the client’s husband and her other children. There was no hiding the breech of trust.

I was overwhelmed just picturing the scenario. The consensus approach from the class, and from Bri, was, “Keep her on the phone, keep the connection open, and take it one day at a time.” I remember thinking how glad I was to not be dealing with that situation.

Two weeks later. Tiffany called the hotline.

I had just closed up the center, picked up my daughter from kindergarten and was on the autobahn heading home after a long day when the phone rang.

One Day at a Time

Tiffany’s first question was whether we perform abortions and, if so, when could she make the earliest appointment. As I listened, mother-to-mother to someone desperate with fear, I offered to meet up and talk. When someone, like Tiffany, needs to talk, they just need someone to listen. I could do that.

A mother of three young boys, a married family friend had taken advantage of Tiffany while her husband was deployed in the Middle East. Now, she was pregnant. My heart sank as I realized I knew the wife whose husband was the father of Tiffany’s baby.

My thoughts went back to that session at the Heartbeat International Annual Conference. I’d only been back a couple of weeks, so the conversation—and that fleeting sense of relief that, at least I wasn’t dealing with this situation—was still fresh in my mind.

I asked myself, “What would Bri do in this situation? How would she handle this ‘Tough Question?” How on earth could I help to “fix” this?

That’s when Bri’s answer at the workshop crystalized in my mind: Keep her on the phone. Keep the connection open. Take it one day at a time.

As I got to know Tiffany and listened to her story, God began to teach me to take one step at a time, one day at a time. I wasn’t going to “fix” Tiffany’s situation. There was no formula. There were very few words of wisdom I could offer.

I only had the love of Christ, which I have seen and experienced in my own life, and which I could draw upon to share with someone who was hurting, alone and scared. Extending love was all Tiffany needed at that moment. Looking back, I’m sure that, had I tried to impart counseling methods or a fixed scenario, I may have missed an opportunity to actually love her.

The Miracle of Love

This life of love starts right where we are. I didn’t have years of training or relevant experience; it was a core principle that came to light in the “Tough Questions” workshop that set me on course. Stay on the line. Keep the connection open. Take it a day at a time.

Often, we count ourselves out even before we give ourselves the chance to see how God works through us. Whether it’s our perceived gap in our qualifications, preparation or “life-togetherness,” we need to remember that it’s God who works through us, and He’s the one who qualifies the unqualified.

Hitting my Facebook message folder four years after we first met, Tiffany’s note jarred me out of the same thought pattern to which I—and I’m guessing, you—tend to default.

Tiffany is now a homeschooling mother of five young boys. She’s going back to school to pursue a degree in crisis counseling. She reached out to let me know that, because of the way God worked through our relationship, she wants to do the same for others.

What a powerful reminder of the God who supplies our every need “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” I know He has supplied mine. What a blessing to know He’s done the same for Tiffany.

You can read Tiffany’s story here

When am I Due? Why Should I be Concerned?

Healthy Pregnancy/Healthy Baby Series: Part 1

By Helen Risse RN MSN

baby-bumpIf you work with pregnant women, you have a great opportunity to improve birth outcomes. When a new client visits your pregnancy help organization, this may be the only contact you have with her.

What should she be sure to know before she leaves you? Does she know her due date? Will you be telling her based on the first day of her last menstrual period?

It is important to define due date and term pregnancy. Remind your new mother that her due date is really a due time that looks at two weeks before to two weeks after that date as being "term". Many people still think of pregnancy in terms of nine months. Explain that pregnancy is defined as 40 weeks or 10 lunar months.

At the end of 2013, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) redefined the meaning of "term".

  • Early term: Between 37 weeks, 0 days and 38 weeks, 6 days.
  • Full term: Between 39 weeks, 0 days and 40 weeks, 6 days.
  • Later term: Between 41 weeks, 0 days and 41 weeks, 6 days.
  • Post term: Between 42 weeks, 0 days and beyond.

Research has noted that the brain of a baby at 35 weeks, 0 days grows in size by two-thirds in the following four weeks.

Research has noted that although the weight of a baby may look normal, babies born before 39 weeks are sleepier babies. These babies do not latch and suckle as well as babies born at 39 weeks 0 days. They have more problems with higher bilirubin levels. These concerns can lead to serious consequences. The choice of an elective delivery date must factor in these findings.

Women should also be taught the signs of preterm labor. Teach women about contractions. Explain what they may feel and describe those symptoms that should put them on alert.

Describe contractions as feeling like:

  • Menstrual cramps
  • Low, dull backache
  • Pelvic pressure—feeling that the baby is pushing down
  • Heavy feeling in your pelvis (pelvic congestion)
  • Stomach cramps—with or without diarrhea
  • The abdomen may tighten or get firm then relax or soften

Describe vaginal discharge or bleeding:

  • An increase or change in your normal vaginal discharge
  • Red, brown or pink discharge or spotting

Describe water breaks:

  • Gush of fluid from vagina
  • Slow trickle of fluid from vagina-(panties feel wet and you don't know why)

General feeling that something is not right.

What should she do if she thinks she may be having preterm labor? Below are some guidelines you may discuss with your Medical Director to develop a policy/procedure for your center.

  • Empty bladder
  • Drink 1-2 glasses of water or juice (no caffeine, sugar, or sports drinks)
  • Lie down on your side and time the contractions from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next. Write down when the contractions start.

If the contractions are coming more than every 15 minutes or 4-6 in an hour, call your doctor.

It is important to stay well hydrated. Dehydration can often cause a woman to experience contractions.
Women should know the risks that increase concerns for preterm labor. Women who are at greatest risk for preterm labor are those who have had a previous preterm birth, as well as those who are pregnant with multiples, and those with certain abnormalities of their uterus or cervix.

Other risk factors include smoking, drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs, domestic violence, including physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or lack of support.

Additional risks factors related to her health include infections, including urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, diabetes, high blood pressure, second trimester bleeding from the vagina, being underweight before pregnancy, obesity, and a short time period between pregnancies.

When asked if there is anything that can be done to prevent preterm labor, tell a woman to:

  • See her doctor early and regularly during pregnancy,
  • Eat nutritious meals and snacks,
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water, juice or milk every day, and
  • Avoid cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and medications not prescribed by her doctor.

If you have one visit from a pregnant woman and pass on this information, you may contribute to an improved outcome. Every extra day her baby is in a healthy intrauterine environment is positive for the development of her baby, which in turn can be a big help to a new mother.


Spong CY. Defining "Term" Pregnancy: Recommendations From the Defining "Term" Pregnancy Workgroup. JAMA. 2013;309(23):2445-2446. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.62

ACOG Clinical Guidelines: Definition of term pregnancy. Committee Opinion No. 579. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2013;122:1139–40.35
Go the Full 40 Campaign tool Kit :http://www.health4mom.org/pregnancy/healthy_pregnancyo

The last weeks of pregnancy count: July 5th, 2012l Kit: http://newsmomsneed.marchofdimes.com/?tag=brain-development


From haven to harbor – This just in from Joplin, Missouri

by Betty McDowell, Director of Affiliate Services

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Catastrophe hit Joplin, Missouri, on Sunday, May 25th, as severe tornadoes devastated significant portions of the Joplin community. The pictures of devastation are heart wrenching with 30% of the city gone and another 40% damaged. The reports of loss of life and damage have been difficult to comprehend.

The story is still unfolding for Joplin and its residents. But the story of the local pregnancy help center is remarkable.

For several years, our affiliate in Joplin, Life Choices, has operated one of the best models in the country involving STD testing and treatment. Years ago, they saw the vision for impacting this college town by expanding their medical services to include STD services. Pregnancy help centers from all over the country have sought to understand how Joplin successfully draws students in for STD testing and treatment and shares God’s plan for their sexuality – a message that of course is counter to the prevailing culture.  Life Choices, as The Body of Christ at work, has been influencing the culture with some success. They truly have been a haven for those devastated by the culture of abortion and lack of sexual integrity.

All of that was before the tornado hit.

Scrambling to connect with Life Choices folks, we now understand that ten volunteers and staff have lost everything but their lives. Many of the churches that supported the ministry are now rubble and many of their individual donors lost everything. The leaders of the ministry told us that as many staff as possible came to the center Monday morning (the ministry/center was untouched) and began finding as many material resources as possible to start handing out to people in the community. They quickly became a hub for material services.

With the local hospital destroyed by the tornado, Life Choices opened its doors to the medical community to set up essential medical care in the ministry offices. Currently there are several doctors providing a variety of services to the community because Life Choices quickly recognized that they were well positioned to serve the community in the aftermath of the devastation. Once a haven from the storms of life, they have stretched themselves to serve as a safe harbor for assistance of all types as they bring life back to their community.

While the center staff at Life Choices is currently overwhelmed and suffering, they have recognized that this is their finest hour to influence the community and the culture. They have stayed strong in believing, practicing, and teaching God’s plan for salvation and sexuality in a culture that does not want to hear it but is now looking to them as a beacon of hope.

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