As we near the end of 2018, I am pleased to announce a very exciting change we are implementing to the way we do business. When I founded Better Beginnings in the spring of 2013, my main goal was to help other moms and families after they had a baby. My own experience of the postpartum time was challenging, and I recognized a gap in care for families, as so much emphasis and attention is paid to prenatal care and childbirth itself, but very little formal care is provided in the days and weeks following birth. As Better Beginnings took off–and has continued to grow–we recognize the importance of postpartum care for all families, but the reality of our hourly fees making our services inaccessible to many. This, combined with increasing awareness of the racial disparities in maternal and infant wellbeing and a desire to do what we can to alleviate that, has led us to create our 6% Program.
The 6% Program is a new initiative where we will donate 6% of all our client fees paid to provide pro bono or deeply discounted services to those who cannot otherwise retain our services. This will enable us to support families who are experiencing poverty, families who live in an otherwise marginalized community, or families who find themselves in dire situations. One such example is a family we served last winter: Susan* had just had a cesarean birth and was about 4 days postpartum when her social worker contacted us. Susan had a five year old daughter at home, no friends or family nearby that was able to help in a significant way, and Susan’s husband Ray* was in fourth stage colon cancer. He had to undergo intense chemotherapy every third week, which required hospitalization and meant major fatigue and sickness every evening and every week following “chemo week”. This meant that Susan was left to care for him completely whenever he was home, had to get him to and from the hospital, had to get their daughter to and from school, care for her daughter at home, care for her newborn breastfeeding son, and…oh yeah, care for herself following major abdominal surgery. For us to go into that home meant a lot for Susan. Our help meant this exhausted and overwhelmed mom got to rest, enjoy her new baby, have laundry done and dinner made, and got to process everything going on with a listening ear and a caring heart. Her social worker knew she was going to need more help than she had in place, and so she reached out to us to ask us to provide services at low cost to Susan and Ray. This is an example of a family we feel to whom our 6% Program can truly make a difference. We know there are many families who need what we can offer: in-home physical, emotional, and informational support catered to the unique needs following childbirth. We hope our 6% Program can help us reach more families.
Why 6%? Six is an important number in the postpartum world: six weeks is a turning point for infant development and parent development (usually 6 weeks is the hardest/most fussy time for babies, and the time when new parents are at their most challenging spot). Six weeks is also about the time it takes for a new breastfeeding mom to establish her milk supply, and about the time when breastfeeding becomes significantly easier. Six months is also halfway through the first year of a baby’s life, so can be a big milestone for parents: “We’ve made it halfway! This little one is still growing and we are still thriving!”
In this age of the fast, the busy, the distracted, and the over-committed, we believe in the slow. We believe in the tender. We believe in the attentive, and we believe in the commitment. As trained professionals who continually seek more knowledge to support families in their postpartum time, we offer a calm, experienced, professional presence unlike anything else. And we believe all families deserve this sort of care after they have a baby. It’s as simple as that.
While we acknowledge the limitations of our 6% program, we also know that this is one step, a first step, in changing our culture. With each family we will serve through this program, we believe a better beginning will happen. With culturally sensitive and compassionate support, we believe more Twin Cities families will benefit. Thank you, deeply, from the bottom of our hearts, for supporting our work to support women, babies, and families in the unique postpartum time. Thank you for contributing to better beginnings for families like yours, with different challenges. You are doing much good, through us, and we are so, so appreciative. Happy holidays and a happy new year to you and all of yours.