For moms-to-be, the health of their unborn child is undoubtedly top of mind. When social and financial challenges come into play, worries intensify as the thought of the everyday struggles associated with an expanding family becomes harsh reality.
Building Blocks for Better Babies (BBBB) is a service offered through the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program in Windsor and Essex County that provides expectant moms enduring such hardships with a comforting measure of peace of mind.
The program was developed by Ellen Bachtold, one of the present-day dietitians with the program, together with Mary Louise Drake. Dr. Drake was the original sponsoring faculty member in nursing; the Faculty of Nursing continues to support the program.
“BBBB is a comprehensive, community-based program that supports pregnant women who face conditions that may compromise their health and the development of their babies,” says retired nursing professor and BBBB administrator Deborah Dayus. “Since 1996, the program is designed to provide nutrition support and health education to pregnant women who face challenging circumstances that put their health and the health of their infants at risk.”
Such circumstances include prenatal moms who are:
- Enduring financial hardship resulting in food shortage
- New immigrants experiencing social and cultural change
- Struggling with anxiety or depression
- Struggling with substance abuse
- Lacking social supports
- Lacking post-secondary education
- Single parents
- Under 20 years of age
- Experiencing domestic violence
Along with Dr. Dayus, registered dietitians Ellen Bachtold and Karen Harrop are the backbone of the BBBB program that is experiencing challenges of its own. Funding has not kept pace with inflation and operating costs; BBBB has operated with the same budget for over 20 years.
“We’re appreciative of the funding that we’ve received and feel fortunate to have great relationships with outstanding project partners who supply us with things such as vitamins and fresh food to be distributed to expectant moms,” Dayus says.
Dayus recalls conducting “porch visits” during the pandemic where the team prepared and dropped off care baskets and at a distance, briefly chatted with expectant moms. Without the generosity of program partners, BBBB could not provide the support on such a tight budget.
BBBB offers education including healthy eating, nutritious meals on a budget, and feeding your baby. It also offers prenatal and breastfeeding classes in collaboration with the Windsor Essex County Health Unit.
The program services approximately 50 registered prenatal moms and their families per week and currently runs Tuesday in Windsor, Wednesday in Leamington, and Thursday virtually.
For more information on BBBB, or if you qualify and need support, visit https://www.uwindsor.ca/nursing/better-babies/.
To support Building Blocks for Better Babies, visit www.UWindsor.ca/SupportNursing and specify BBBB as the donation target. All gifts will receive a charitable tax receipt.