Project Nurture supports and empowers pregnant women struggling with addiction
Yuri (pronounced U-D) Sanchez was struggling to find stability in her life, when she learned she was six weeks pregnant. “I was ashamed,” she says. “I had an unhealthy relationship, no family and an addiction that had me in and out of recovery.”
After an initial appointment with the staff at Legacy’s Project Nurture, Yuri learned of the many resources available to support her desire to have a healthy pregnancy, to parent and continue her path to recovery without fear of judgement. “It was like a waterfall – you begin to hear that you can be a loving, caring, nurturing and responsible parent,” she says. “They made me feel like I can do this – it’s hard – but they empowered me.”
Project Nurture integrates maternity care with addiction treatment for pregnant women with substance use disorders during pregnancy and through the first year after the baby is born. An interprofessional team provides integrated services in a supportive environment focused on harm reduction, education, support and respect. Services include maternity/medical care from a certified nurse midwife, substance use treatment from a certified drug and alcohol counselor, peer support and doula care from peer recovery counselors, and intensive case management and counseling from a social worker.
Julie Bennette and Telia Anderson, peer recovery counselors and doulas at Legacy Medical Group (LMG)–Midwifery’s Project Nurture, help women struggling with addiction feel supported and heard. Because they offer insights from their personal journey with addiction and recovery, their clients see firsthand there is hope for a brighter future. “To help empower other women and teach them the skills to navigate services is what has kept me drawn to Project Nurture. Project Nurture helps women by giving them their power back,” Telia says.
“It is a sisterhood – hearing Julie and Telia share their experiences made me feel comfortable,” Yuri says. “Their journey is what gives me hope – if they’re doing this awesome stuff to help women, I could do that too.”
With the help of the Project Nurture team, Yuri learned how to get a domestic violence restraining order. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy and is preparing to go back to school. “I know I’m worth more – I got that from Project Nurture,” she says. Julie notes, “My job is one of the most important jobs in the world. This is a place of support – where you are going to get uplifted – you’re going to learn new things – and we will empower you.”
LMG–Midwifery on the Legacy Emanuel Medical Center campus in partnership LifeWorks NW, is one of three sites in Portland to pilot Project Nurture. Beginning in 2014, with support from Health Share of Oregon, the Legacy site has cared for more than 200 women. When compared to other pregnant women with substance use disorders, women who receive care through Project Nurture are less likely to have a preterm birth or a cesarean. They are more likely to access treatment including medication assisted treatment and contraception, and, when they’ve completed the program, 93% of women have custody of their babies.
Legacy Health is proud to be a Project Nurture partner and advocated the program be duplicated across the state. Other Health Share supported sites include CODA/OHSU and Providence Family Medicine in Milwaukie.
For more information, watch this Project Nurture video.