There are various barriers that can prevent a woman from accessing quality prenatal care and information. Our program partners around the United States are trusted resources in their local communities where women can seek affordable and accessible care. Shaniqua’s story showcases the commitment both mothers and our program partners have to overcoming obstacles on the path to health.
Shaniqua was halfway through her pregnancy when she relocated from Chicago to a small town in Iowa. Looking for new care providers, she scrolled through the local clinic options on Google. Her neighbor had mentioned a local organization, the American Home Finding Association (AHFA), and when it popped up during her search, she decided to make an appointment.
The AHFA has been in service for 100 years. Beginning as an adoption agency, they have since branched out to almost forty different departments servicing women and children across six counties in Iowa. Jamie, a nurse working for AHFA, said the organization provides various maternal child health programs. “We do a lot of pre-dietary education. We see a mom postpartum with her new baby, and then we follow children from ages one through five providing nutrition services and dietician counseling. We test their leads, their hemoglobins, and we do a lot of dental education. Just a lot of family services,” she explained.
It was Jamie who Shaniqua met with for her initial prenatal appointment. Moving mid-pregnancy had caused Shaniqua to get out of some regular routines, including taking multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS), commonly known as prenatal vitamins, as she had during her previous three pregnancies. As a result, she expected that her iron levels might be low, and the tests confirmed her mother’s intuition was right. “I was scared at first,” she said. But, during that first appointment Shaniqua received a bottle of Vitamin Angels’ MMS. “I started taking my prenatals right away. [And was] taking them every day, as I should,” Shaniqua commented.
“Most of my moms who have had babies before know what a prenatal vitamin is,” Jamie said. “[They] know that they … should be taking it most of the time. But most of my moms I would say, don’t know why they should be taking it.” While the mothers Jamie sees typically want the best for themselves and their children, they sometimes lack knowledge of specific vitamins and minerals. “We tell them that folic acid helps to prevent, for example, Spina Bifida… we use that term a lot, just because it’s so highly recognized. No one wants that necessarily to be their baby. Everyone wants a healthy baby. And just to make sure that they know that the prenatal vitamin is for their baby also. It’s not just for their wellbeing. It’s for their baby’s health,” she added.
Shaniqua regularly took Vitamin Angels’ MMS, and at the time of the interview, was less than a month away from delivering her baby. She shared, “Everything is back to normal with my iron and blood levels!” “You know, it’s a lot… It’s pretty crazy the pains I have been having, on and off, but …my family is excited. Kids are excited…I just want to hold her.”
The charismatic mom said that she hopes all of her children get a good education and “go on with their life, [but] don’t forget about mom. And always, you know, enjoy their life.” While she enjoyed dreaming of what the future holds for her family, she was determined to accomplish her own goals, too. “I wanna go back to school because I want to be a nurse. If not that, I wanted to go into business management, I wanna open up my own business. I got a lot of plans. And, I will still have time for my kids.”
AHFA’s caring team works hard to provide support that goes beyond just administering tests and filling out forms. Jamie said, “I hope that when our moms come through, we are able to help them, and we make sure that they leave feeling like good moms. That they feel like they have a better means to provide for their children in whatever aspect of their lives they’re trying to provide.”
Since AHFA started receiving MMS from Vitamin Angels in 2015, “we have definitely seen a change,” shared Katie, their Health Services Director. Now, clients like Shaniqua have access to an additional, free resource. “We want our clients to start the prenatal vitamins as soon as possible…So they’re available to whomever may need them.”
Vitamin Angels collaborates with program partners in every U.S. state to make high-quality MMS and nutrition education available to pregnant women in low-resource settings. Last year, we reached over 500,000 women and their babies in the U.S.!
Find out how you can support mothers and babies in the U.S. and around the world.