November 2002

Mercy Hospital, Devils Lake, North Dakota

Baby and I Program

Since 1998, approximately 80 percent of new mothers at Mercy Hospital have graduated from the Baby and I program. Mercy developed this mother/infant support program to reduce the number of newborns readmitted to the hospital due to failure to thrive. During the first year of the program Mercy Hospital saw a 31 percent decrease in readmitted newborns.

The program begins when mothers-to-be receive prenatal care. Registered nurses provide educational classes and basic information on topics such as breastfeeding, nutrition, infant care, financial budgeting and family bonding. Sometimes, a nurse such as Mary Anne Fetterly, RN, the director of the program, is the only support network for young mothers, and she even serves as a labor coach.

After giving birth, the mothers can attend weekly classes at Mercy to learn about coping strategies, child development and being better parents. These classes provide educational information and a strong support network for new mothers. Program graduates often continue to meet after their classes have officially ended.