It takes a Village: Empowering new moms with the support they need to thrive

By Max Slutsky
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Being a new mom can be wonderful. It can also be an overwhelming life transition. For moms from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or those managing language and cultural barriers, this new stage of life may be compounded with anxiety, stress, and loneliness.

That’s why UJA-Federation is funding Caring for New Mothers and Infants.

The initiative, run by UJA partner the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, helps expectant and new moms — many of them Russian-speaking — find resources, support groups, and hands-on help with things like breastfeeding and infant development.

After its debut this past January at the Women’s Center at the Marks JCH in Brooklyn, the program immediately exceeded its goal of 40 participants. Sixty new and expectant mothers are now accessing a range of critical services in a one-stop community hub.

Deanna, one of the program’s first participants, has attended almost every workshop offered by the program.

“The New Moms Program at JCH came at just the right time for me, and having a built-in infrastructure focused on new mom support is so impactful,” Deanna reported. “The program was a chance to realize that my experience is a shared experience, empowering me in my decision-making as a new mom and allowing me to be more open with sharing my experiences.”

New mothers also receive in-home evaluations for lactation consults, early intervention, mental health, and other critical services.

“New mothers are calmer and more at ease in their own homes,” said Laurey Sherman, one of Marks JCH’s mental health therapists. “I come into their homes, normalize their experiences, and support them in adjusting to their new lives and roles so they can be present for themselves and their new family.”

Caring for New Mothers and Infants is not limited to Russian-speaking women, but by virtue of the location in southern Brooklyn, it draws mostly Russian-speaking women from varying economic backgrounds. What they all share is a need for postpartum support so they can be the best version of themselves, not only for their sakes, but for their children’s.

“The expecting and new moms program has been amazing, and I’ve gained so much useful knowledge that I will carry forward when my baby is born,” said Irena, one of the expectant mothers participating in the program. “I’m less nervous about having my first child, and I’m now connected with an array of professionals and other expecting moms in a supportive and warm environment.”

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