Open Arms Clinic gains national attention

ANTIGONISH: St. Martha’s Regional Hospital’s Open Arms Clinic, in the Children’s and Women’s Health Unit, has gained some national exposure.

Lisa MacDonald and Colleen Boyd, two of the nurses involved, presented the work of the clinic, “Ahead of the Birth: Planning Post-Partum Discharge Prenatally,” at the Canadian Association of Perinatal and Women’s Health Nurses National Conference in Halifax recently. The co-chair of the conference commented how well received their presentation was by all those in attendance.

The Open Arms Clinic at St. Martha’s is somewhat unique in Nova Scotia. Rather than wait until the mother is delivering, the clinic works to ensure supports are in place long beforehand. The clinic tries to see all women who plan to deliver at St. Martha’s early in their pregnancy. The first session is usually a one-on-one and can be an hour long. The nurses and mother-to-be exchange information in preparation of the birth. Especially for a new mother, a first pregnancy is a time of huge changes. The nurses provide pre-natal information, assess and take note of any client needs, and can refer the mother-to-be to support services as needed.

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They strive to provide pregnancy, safety, delivery and lactation information. The nurses involved are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants. It is a team approach. Mid-wife services, mental health services, public health nurses, social services, family physicians, family and children’s support programs are all part of the team involved at the clinic.

By meeting with the women long before delivery, the mother-to-be can be better prepared for delivery and the life changes and challenges a new baby brings. Support service for her are already in place, leading to much more positive outcomes and healthier babies and mothers. Support from the clinic does not end with delivery. They see mothers and babies afterward to provide support with breast feeding, growth issues, etc.

The St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation was glad to help fund Lisa and Colleen’s attendance at the conference so they could not only showcase the wonderful work being done at St. Martha’s but learn from other innovative programs across the country.